My name is Rain Sullivan, I am a recent Seattle Pacific University grad (June 2016) with a BS in Biology. As such I have an extensive and well-rounded education encompassing not only science but math, writing, English, and other various social studies. Furthermore, I have experience tutoring and laboratory assisting, both of which involved guiding peers to a greater understanding of course material and eventually success.
Science is my favorite subject, sounds broad but it is true, I have honestly enjoyed all my science classes. From general biology, to genetics, from ecology, to biostatistics, I like it all. Science is amazing because it is so experimental and complex, but once understood truly fascinating and question-inducing. Math and analytical writing are a close second and third. Math, in my opinion, is great because (with a few exceptions) there are no if, buts, or maybes. Math is a dependable, rule-following subject, and that's why I like it. Though this may seem hard to believe, I have found that writing too can really be mastered by following some pretty straight forward guidelines. From writing dense, scientific-literature heavy lab reports to history papers and even creative essays, I've applied these rules and have found with a little time and dedication it is not as hard as it seems. Aside from school, I really love playing sports and hiking in the Pacific Northwest.
I really love working with people and I believe education is extremely important. I enjoy teaching and think teaching can come in many forms (not just lecture-style teaching). Thus I have developed an array of study techniques that I personally have benefited from and have shared with others and seen them benefit from as well. I have really enjoyed getting an education, I am passionate about learning and would love to pass this passion along to other students.
Undergraduate Degree: Seattle Pacific University - Bachelors, Biology, General
GRE Quantitative: 154
GRE Verbal: 153
Sports, fitness, music, reading, hiking, and more!
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe teaching is most effective when geared towards a given individual. That is to say, different people learn in different ways, and, as such, different people should be taught in different ways. If a particular person learns best through repetition, then lecture-type teaching is not suited for them. Rather, flashcards or practice problems may best suit their needs and, in turn, allow them to master the material.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would try to get to know my new students, first and foremost. I think it is important to understand who you are working with in order for them to thrive in said work environment. Then, I would ask what subject/material/problems the student is working on, in order to hone in on what they are struggling with. From there I would let the student guide the session, to an extent. If they need help with homework or are studying for a particular test, we could start by reviewing the general concepts, and then dive into the details in order to find the source of the problem.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I think it all comes down to how you study. It took me a little while to get the hang of what studying techniques worked best for me, but once I figured out how I learned best, I was able to teach myself a whole slew of material. So, when working with a student, if I can help them identify a learning/studying approach that fits them, then hopefully they can become independent.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Positive reinforcement and changing up the lesson plan can really help keep students engaged and motivated. Repetitive lesson plans can get boring, thus I think changes in lesson structure and studying approach can keep things interesting. Additionally, letting students know and/or reminding them of their success and progress can allow students to see how they have grown, while still encouraging them to want to achieve more.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would attempt to find the source of the misunderstanding by having them explain what they do know, what they think they know, and where they think they are getting stuck. This would allow me to resolve the source of the problem, and then teach them new material with a solid foundation.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would first have the student read through the material and attempt to summarize to me what the excerpt is attempting to explain. If their summary does not quite fit what the material is explaining, I would them advise them to attempt highlighting the thesis of the material, or explain what is in the material that led them to believe their summary was correct. If there still seemed to be a problem in comprehension I would ask the student if they could identify any words in the excerpt that they did not understand, then the problem may simply be definition based. Once all the terms were thoroughly understood, I would have them reexamine the piece and start from there.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I find a student's motivation can be fueled by a tutor's motivation - when someone shows a general interest in you and your goals, then it is easier to continue striving for said goals. Thus I would show a student my excitement with that particular subject in order for them to harness their own excitement.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
It really depends on where the student is at in terms of understanding the curriculum. Some students need to go over what was taught in class first, prior to doing practice problems or flashcards (aka studying). Thus, in that case, I find it is best to go over the basics and slowly build by providing examples, demonstrations, or stories so the material is being taught to the student in a way that best suits how they learn. If a student understands what is being taught in class, but does not quite understand how in applies to the big picture, or individual problems, then it is best to recap the basics and dive into studying techniques and example questions.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I try to ask students questions. Often, if a student does not understand something, they have an expectation that I will explain it to them and “Tada!” They've got it! But, it does not generally work that way. So, rather than re-lecturing what they were taught in class, I try to allow them to guide me by asking them to explain the concept to me in their words/ tell me what they do know/what they think they know, etc.. Once they seem to get the gist of things, then I can give them example questions or ask them to re-cap for me what they just learned. Based on their answer, it is usually easy to tell whether or not they truly understand the concept.