Hi there! My name is Jess and it's my pleasure to be considered for your tutoring needs. My background is in forensic anthropology, world and U.S. history, human evolution, cultural anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and religious studies. My teaching philosophy is pretty simple: communicate your passion for the subject and make it relatable to the student's own interests and passions. I've found these approaches to be really effective in my years as a teaching assistant, student success coach, and educator. By working one-on-one with students and identifying their strengths and passions, my mission as a Varsity Tutor is to make sure that learning a new subject (or going over an old one) can be engaging, interesting, and empowering. I look forward to working with you - until then, best regards and keep learning!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Arizona State University - Bachelors, Anthropology
Graduate Degree: Arizona State University - Masters, Religious Studies
Painting, playing music, writing, calligraphy, curanderismo, martial arts, reading, graphic novels, science fiction, gardening, herbalism, hiking, flintknapping, carving, cooking
Anatomy & Physiology
Ancient and Medieval Heritage
College Level American History
High School Level American History
Latin America History
The Modern World
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is pretty simple: share your passion for the subject and make the subject relevant to the student's own life and experience. I believe students can tell when your heart isn't in your subject, and their level of enthusiasm tends to match or mirror yours. Sharing your passion automatically gives the lesson more energy, to which the students respond, and making it relevant to their experience (e.g., "am I ever going to use this outside of school?") makes the subject more interesting, applicable, and engaging.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Sit down, have a talk, and get to know them! Developing a rapport with your students is essential to making them feel comfortable, supported, and confident when learning a new subject or covering an old one. As part of the "getting to know you" session, I'd also cover the basic information or structure of the course, subject matter, etc. - both as a quick introduction and to gauge their level of knowledge, interest, see if they have any questions right off the bat, etc.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Give them assignments that encourage independent, critical thinking and how the lesson's subject applies to their daily life and experience. Encouraging reflection, experimentation, introspection, curiosity, and finding and developing their passions help foster independent learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Positive reinforcement, constructive criticism, and tying the subject matter to the students’ own interests and passions are good ways to help keep students motivated. Keeping it interesting is the best way to keep it motivating!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Shake up the learning approach; if traditional lecture or book focus isn't working, find a way to teach the subject visually, kinesthetically, or audibly, for example. Again - tying the subject to the student's interests and passions, as well as encouraging critical thinking, curiosity, and introspection, helps students approach problems from different angles and perspectives.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I go over the material thoroughly and repetitively (while avoiding making it monotonous) with the student - first reading through the material with them, then explaining it in a more relatable or accessible manner, and finally by having the student put the content in their own words. This helps to gauge their level of understanding, their progress, and see in which areas they're having difficulty.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Developing a rapport and ascertaining the student's areas of interest and passions. What drives them? What motivates them? What makes them feel confident, fulfilled, inspired? I draw on these areas and try to find common ground with my own experience and with the subject matter in order to make it accessible and engaging for the student.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
First, see if there's a better way to teach it - if a lecture's not working, then try a physical activity, word game, puzzle, etc. Second, and perhaps more important, make the subject relatable and applicable to the student's own interests. If the subject can be connected to something the student cares about deeply, then the subject is easier to care about.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I like to use written or oral responses; while practice quizzes or tests are a good way to gauge the students’ ability to respond to a standardized test, the only way to gauge whether they truly understand a subject is to have them explain the material in their own words. How do they understand it? How would they explain it to another student? How do they see it impacting their life or the lives of others? These questions get at the heart of student comprehension.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Positive reinforcement and constructive criticism on assessments or tests is a good way to help build confidence, but I've found the best way is to provide students with opportunities to show me what they know on their own terms. Creative projects that draw on the students’ own interests, passions, and strengths are great ways for them to use their imagination while sharing what they've learned and what they understand. The absolute best way I've found to build students’ confidence, though, is to give them an opportunity to teach ME something new. Whether they got that information from studying, personal experience or life events, or other instructors, there's nothing more satisfying than learning something new about your subject from your student and seeing their face light up and their confidence visibly grow when you tell them so.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Mainly by talking to the students, developing that rapport and having an honest, open conversation with them as a person (rather than a subordinate). When students feel comfortable talking to you, they trust you enough to confess what they're having trouble with and what they feel confident with; too often, students want to give the impression that they're following just fine, even if they're not. Keeping things honest, open, and real helps them shed that tendency and discuss their needs more openly. Of course, evaluating their assessments and exams is a useful tool, as well, but I think communication is honestly the most effective way.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
The tutoring has to fit the students’ learning style; otherwise, the information won't be accessible, relatable, or comprehensible to them and it won't sink in. I like to keep at least a portion of my lesson in a traditional lecture format, just so we can cover the basic information, but the rest of the lesson usually involves some forms of activities or projects that target different learning centers of the brain and encourage different thought and creativity processes. One way or the other, the student will tell or show YOU how they learn best.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It really depends on the subject matter. However, I always use at least one book, some digital information (like a PowerPoint or video/audio material), and some physical object to demonstrate the lesson material. If I were to talk about the bones of the skull, for example, I'd bring my anatomical skull replica to physically point out where the bones are; if we were covering archaeology, I'd bring some archaeological artifacts I've collected over the years to make the information concrete and accessible. If we were talking about sound waves, I'd bring a musical instrument to show how you can actually hear the wave's frequency (especially when two strings are out of tune, e.g.). The idea is to make an abstract concept more concrete and relatable.