I have a BA in English from Michigan State University and a MA in Broadcast and Cinematic Arts from Central Michigan University. I also completed 4 years of doctoral studies in American Culture Studies (an inter-disciplinary field that encompasses Film, American History, Sociology, and English) at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio.
I have taught courses both online and in traditional classroom settings. Those courses included Film, American Culture Studies, Speech Communication (which includes Public Speaking), and Popular Culture. Currently, I am an instructor for the Art Institutes. I have been with them for 7 years. In addition to my current teaching duties, I also give lectures in Art History.
My research interests include Medical Sociology, Comparative Religion, Video Games, and Narratology.
I am passionate about teaching because I think learning is important. Education is important. I like to see students learning, because I know how good it feels when you learn something for the first time, or when you finally make a breakthrough in something you have been working hard to achieve. Your mind opens. Your world expands. New horizons await. Learning does that. Education does that. Now, more than ever, you need to make opportunities for yourself, to grow, to advance, to achieve. I am honored to help students start down a path toward making those opportunities happen.
I am qualified to tutor a broad range of subjects, but I most excited about helping students improve their overall abilities in all facets of English (including Literature), Art, and Social Studies. That does not mean you need to be majoring in those areas. If you are taking a course in one of those areas, whatever your major might be, I want to help you.
My approach to teaching is in guiding students toward realizations. I enjoy interacting with students, creating a dialog, helping them come to their own conclusions, rather than simply giving them the conclusions. My style is informal, but focused. Learning should be engaging, not boring. Some of the best professors I had over the years were in courses outside my majors. Even though I had little interest in the subject matter, they made the material engaging, and I learned a lot.
Outside of academic pursuits, I do a lot of weight-lifting, and I enjoy being outdoors. I do study popular culture, so my hobbies and research interests are the same. I am a gamer. I also collect books of all kinds (and comic books), and I do a lot of writing. Also, huge Doctor Who fan.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Michigan State University - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: Central Michigan University - Masters, Broadcast and Cinematic Arts
Video Games, Literature, Film, Weight-Lifting, Creative Writing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My approach to teaching is in guiding students toward realizations. I enjoy interacting with students, creating a dialogue, and helping them come to their own conclusions, rather than simply giving them the conclusions. My style is informal, but focused. Learning should be engaging, not boring. Some of the best professors I had over the years were in courses outside my majors. Even though I had little interest in the subject matter, they made the material engaging, and I learned a lot. I value the development and application of critical thinking in the classroom and in day-to-day life. Thinking critically is a skill that requires practice. It can be practiced across all subjects and in everyday conversation. The classroom is the ideal place to make your critical thinking skills stronger, so I foster environments conducive to helping students think critically. For example, if you dislike History, ask yourself why? You do not like writing? Why? "Why" can be a powerful word, because it makes you think. Get to the root of why you dislike something, so that you understand your own motivations and feelings, because then you can begin looking at those understandings and feelings objectively. Then, you can begin challenging yourself. The more you challenge yourself, the more you will learn. You may still dislike History, but if you can get a handle on why you dislike it, then you can try to find ways to make it engaging. I believe in helping students find the path to that kind of understanding. What you learn in the classroom, no matter the subject matter, you should be able to apply that knowledge to your life. I firmly believe that no matter what you are studying, it is relevant to you. The question is, can an instructor make it relevant to you? Can the instructor help you see how it is relevant to you? For example, reading Shakespeare's Hamlet may seem daunting and leave you wondering, why is this important to me, this play-text written in the 17th century? Bring the discussion down to the human qualities. Have you lost a father? How would you feel if your father died, then your mother soon after re-married, to your uncle? Have you been in love, then had that person you loved reject you? How did that feel? What are the emotions that the characters are going through? You might not be able to identify with a Danish Prince or an upper-class young lady in love with that prince, but you can identify with the emotions they feel. There is always a way to connect with your subject matter. I enjoy helping students find those connections. Instructors learn from students, too. Indeed, I believe that learning is a collaborative process. The best experiences I had in classrooms were with instructors who were open to being challenged, just as they challenged me. Engaging students through the practice of critical thinking, helping them make connections with their subject matter, and bringing all of that together, as part of the instructor-student relationship, that is the most rewarding aspect of teaching, because it helps me learn, too. It generates insights. In helping students use critical thinking and find ways to engage with subject matter, I am making my own connections. Every student comes from a different background, different experiences, and they all bring their own strengths and weaknesses to the classroom. That is to be valued, because every new student is a new opportunity for new perspectives.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session with a student, I will take the time to find out what the student is majoring in, what courses he or she is currently taking, and what his or her ultimate goals are. These are things that will help establish the academic context for the tutoring. I will also ask the student what problems he or she is having with a given subject area and why. In short, I want to establish the grounds for a productive dialog.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
First, I can help a student become an independent learner by asking questions. Help them clarify their own thinking, their own ideas, and goals. Second, a student should be given the intellectual tools to find their own answers. I guide them in the use of those tools.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I can help a student stay motivated by keeping him or her engaged. An engaged student is a motivated student. I keep students engaged by helping them see why their studies are relevant. It also helps if I am not boring, because a boring instructor (a monotonous instructor) can turn students off.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First, I would review the skill or concept myself. Second, get down to first principles. In other words, look at the skill or concept systematically. Break it down. Third, go over each step or each level of the skill or concept with the student. Third, try to help the student master the skill or concept one step at a time. Fourth, constantly review each step, as we proceed, so that the student sees how each step contributes to the next and, ultimately, to the complete skill or concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Initially, begin with the assigned readings that are at stake. Look over those readings. Then, plan to review certain sections with the student (arranged in advance of the tutoring session). Take those sections a little bit at a time, working with the student on comprehending the individual parts, the words, the complete thoughts, etc. Eventually, work toward the whole, but only after taking our time with the parts. The key is not to overwhelm the student.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
My successful strategies always start with making sure I understand what the student is studying and why. I also like to begin with what the student thinks his or her strengths and weaknesses are, a sort of self-assessment. I need to know where the student is going, if I am going to take him or her there. With the foundation for the academic context established, I then proceed to address the specifics of the situation. That means asking questions of the student and helping the student figure out what questions to ask. Understanding what questions to ask is an important part of interpreting an issue. From there, break things down, systematically, communicating with the student, keeping them engaged.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
In preparation for meeting with the student, I would first make sure I am familiar with the material to be discussed. Then, I would come up with questions for the student, to assess his or her understanding of that material. The responses would determine the next step. Sometimes, asking the student to summarize in one complete, clear sentence, a character, or a work of art, or an idea, or create a thesis for exploring some topic related to the assigned materials can help.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
It begins with getting to know the student a bit. I need to understand what interests them. From there, I can relate the subject or material to them, and make it relevant to them. For example, maybe a student is having a hard time studying History. Perhaps that student plays video games, as a hobby. I would then bring up a video game that is set in the historical period under consideration. That could help the student understand how learning more about that historical period will help him or her get more out of his or her experience playing the game. The same approach can be used with other kinds of popular culture and other subjects. Their personal experiences can also serve the same purpose. The point is to take what students enjoy or know and relate it to the subject matter they are struggling with. Make it relevant to them. That will make the material more engaging.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I build a student's confidence by consistent encouragement and helping them see their strengths, even in the face of their weaknesses. They need to see what they are doing right. Feedback provided is always encouraging as well as constructive. "You came up with a great thesis and your introduction is strong. Now, let's look a little closer at how you have constructed your paragraphs." That would be a positive way of indicating what is being done well and what still needs work.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs in the initial meeting. During that meeting, I take the time to get the know the student a bit. I assess the student's needs by asking questions about his or her course work, background, and expectations for his or her education, in the long term, and the tutoring, in the short term. It is important to understand the student's needs early on, so that I have a better idea of how to direct the tutoring. The student's goals are the real objective.