As a tutor it's my duty to bring the student away from the traditional lecture-style method of teaching, with a teacher as an authority and with the student as a consumer of information and knowledge. Instead, it's my job to help the student discover his or her own potential as a learner and acquire the skills to tackle any problem, whether within or outside his or her field of study, whether in the classroom or in the real world. I strive to help my students become life long critical thinkers, who move beyond the arbitrary boundaries of specialized disciplines but instead be renaissance men and women, to succeed in every aspect of their life.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Benedictine University - Bachelors, Biology, General
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
High School English
High School Physics
High School Writing
What is your teaching philosophy?
My duty as a teacher or tutor is to give students the skills needed to understand information, internalize it, and utilize it. It's not my job to be an authority figure. Rather, I work with students to help them become proactive, critical thinkers. It's my hope that as a tutor, students will be able to use the skills I have helped them acquire to be able to gain confidence in their own abilities as a thinker, student, and lifelong learner.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would assess the student's strengths and abilities, as well as their academic weaknesses, understand their interests, and the way they perceive the world around them. I believe no student has a "clean slate" when it comes to learning, and that often the way they integrate material into their understanding is altered by their preconceived notions. By understanding the preconceptions they have of different topics and fields of studies, whether correct or not, I can begin to develop a plan for how to better help the student connect to their material, to apply their knowledge and understanding critically. I would review the material with the student, and start forming together a concept map for how the student believes a certain process works or how the information makes sense to him or her. From there I would ask the student to re-explain the information to me, and create similar problems to see how the student is beginning to apply the information, or if the student has correctly mastered and utilized the information he or she has learned.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My help comes in the way of poking and prodding a student's mind to move beyond mere memorization of material to understanding, application, and analysis of different, newer material. The goal is for the student to learn how to understand and use what they know, not just spit it back. This means I'll need to pose a lot of example problems, ones that aren't always in the book. But I'm also highly interested in bringing the student away from just the textbook, to connect their understanding to real world issues and problems, for which the student may feel more responsibility for the knowledge and become more eager to learn, not for the sake of passing a test, but for the sake of their own edification.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I like to remind students what they're looking forward to doing in life. I often draw upon different real world examples that a person may come across, and begin to help the student realize that academics is merely a study of the phenomena of the world around us. The theories we study in classes and are tested on are not merely theories, but ways we can interact with each other and the world. I feel that without this reminder students often become lost and lose hope in their ability to learn and therefore their confidence and motivation.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I'd break down the concept or skill into a simple diagram on a piece of paper and have them draw a map of how they understand the certain concept to work and its potential implications. From there I'll analyze to see whether the student is just having trouble understanding material or is having difficulty applying the concept to new situations and problem sets. Once I understand where the student is running into trouble I'll focus more so on that area, and then later assess whether the student is beginning to formulate the correct understanding.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Assuming this is a textbook, I'll ask students to review chapter or section summaries to get a good idea of what the passages are discussing or trying to describe to the student. I'll then remind the student that text is a form of communication between the writer and the reader, and even though the writer may do their best to make the reading easier for the reader, it is always on the job of the student to ask their own questions while reading. Getting an idea of where a section of a passage is going helps the student to understand the larger idea and underlying concepts the section should describe. I will encourage students to ask questions and relate back to other concepts they are more familiar with (touch-stone concepts). From there I will read with the student, paragraph by paragraph, and discuss with the student what the paragraph said, and pose some more questions. The idea is to get students to create new problems for themselves by which they can begin applying bits and pieces of an overall section they would otherwise have difficulty understanding as a whole. After the student and I have finished reading through a section I will pose more questions to see whether the student is beginning to head in the right direction, and whether or not he or she is comprehending the text.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The strategies I've found to be most useful and successful is building a personal connection with students. It's easier to work with the student than try to make the student fit into a mold; every student has different background experiences and modes of understanding, and these all change the way a student creates their own understanding. By connecting with the student in terms of understanding their interests and strengths and weaknesses I can then begin to tailor the lessons in that direction. For example if a student enjoys seeing the big picture and filling in the small details as he or she learns, I'll always make it a point to relate the topic he or she is learning to real world experiences. This seems to work best with students, especially ones that struggle with trying to move into new subjects they are not entirely familiar with.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Beyond relating the subject back to a real-world example, I'll always make sure it is the student who is answering the questions. Despite playing devil's advocate and pushing and poking the student's mind to work in the right direction, I will remind the student that it is always him or her who is doing the answering, with little to no prompting. I'll have the student begin asking him or herself, and then answering those questions with what they know and remind the student of the progress he or she has made.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Have the student draw concept maps, prompt questions, have students ask their own questions, and see where students are struggling. Having not only the answer but also the rationale behind the answer is a very powerful tool to see how a student is or is not arriving at the right answer or how the student does or does not understand the material correctly.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I find what works best is to remind the student that it is his or her mind, not me as a tutor or a teacher or the authority on some subject, who is arriving at the right answers and who is critically thinking. Though comparisons aren't always the most encouraging way, I believe that after every session the student will have made some sort of progress, whether in their understanding of a topic or the way he or she learns. I always make it a point to show the student that kind of progress and remind the student that in every academic field and in every area of study, nobody is delivered the information; every person needs to discover and understand the subject for him or herself and it is up to the student to make that knowledge their own, to become a master of it, and to be able to outdo the student they were yesterday.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Again, concept maps and formative evaluations are important. I find it useful to pose different levels of depth and intricacy for questions I ask the student. I'd start with basic questions involving the basis of the concept regarding the material itself, and then begin working up to their understanding of the material and how it is applied. From there I can see what "stage" of understanding a student has more trouble in and change the course of the discussion to supplement the needs of the student in that specific area.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I always keep in mind it is the student who needs to learn and that it's never a good thing to leave a topic behind, unfinished and not understood in its entirety. I'll always begin and end the session with an informal evaluation of the student's comprehension of the material, how they interpret the material, and what they can use that material for. It gives me a good idea of the progress a student has made and where a student is in need of more help, which I will then emphasize in the next lesson.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I generally bring a computer to show examples, pieces of paper to draw out diagrams on, and the text so the student and I can read the same material.