An Unlikely Candidate
As a Community Studies major at UC Santa Cruz, math was nowhere on my radar. Yes, I did well in all of the college preparatory math classes, excelling at Geometry, but once I got to college, I dropped such pursuits. Long after I had graduated with honors, a good friend of mine asked me if I could help her son, whose math homework had surpassed her knowledge. She knew only that I had taught a class for my senior project at UC Santa Cruz, and that I was currently tutoring at Diablo Valley College (English). I told her that it had been a great many years since I had cracked a math book, but I was happy to try…In short, it was a hit! I understood the book and was able to explain it to her 7th grader in terms that were accessible to him.
From that point on, I realized I liked explaining math! I get great satisfaction from taking a subject that seems difficult, unbearable, even impossible for many, and breaking it down for them in a way that makes them feel like they can do it, perhaps even enjoy it. After tutoring the 7th grader, I took on older and older students until I remembered all of the math I took in high school, then I went and learned some more. I have now cracked several more math books, studying up to Elementary Calculus. My dear friend had no idea that she would rekindle an interest in a subject I had abandoned after 10th grade. Truth be told, I have always been curious, and I have always enjoyed learning new things. Precisely because I did not groom myself for a math/science career and some of my studies are recent, I feel able to really relate to what my students are going through. In addition to a solid set of tutoring skills, I can offer them empathy. I can see from the perspective of someone learning the information for the first time.
My quest for knowledge does not stop at math classes. I am always going to seminars and trainings about any aspect of my tutoring I feel I could improve upon. To this end, I am a proud member of the Bay Area Tutoring Summit (BATS), a consortium of tutors, educators, and counselors that help each other with professional development and referral sources. In addition to the wonderful resources I have found in BATS, I’ve taken advantage of a wide range of tutor/teacher training from a wide variety of sources, including the National Tutoring Association, the Diablo Valley College English Tutoring Lab, The Fortune School, and the Homework Club. I have extensive classroom experience as both a Special Ed Assistant and a Substitute Teacher for the Mount Diablo Unified School District. My subbing assignments including three stints teaching summer school, one of those for moderate-to-severely disabled 4th and 5th graders. In addition, I have worked for the following tutoring agencies: StudyPoint, PepPoint, Ames Seminars, and TutorCorps, mostly helping to prepare students for the SAT and ACT, and doing a bit of general academic tutoring as well. As grateful as I am for all of these experiences, and as much as they have informed my work, the best training I’ve ever received has been on-the-job working with the 150 + private students I have tutored throughout the years. Each and every one of them has taught me something about how people learn and allowed me to become more and more rooted in the subject matter and all of the resources available out there for students and teachers alike.
I am as interested in HOW students are learning as I am in WHAT they are learning. I want to teach them to love the process 🙂 Even though school is compulsory, and there’s a lot of institutions do to drill out students creativity – everyone has their sweet spot – something they are good at, something they like, some affinity for a challenge, some thirst for knowledge SOMEWHERE inside them. I help them access that kernel, that seed. I meet them at their time of challenge and my hope is that when we are through with the difficult class they now know they can do difficult things, so they won’t let an aversion to any subject get in the way of their dreams. Hopefully, their newfound confidence spreads to other areas of their lives as well. We ALL have it in us to do hard things. We just need the right listener and the right catalyst sometimes to help us access ourselves. It is my hope/wish/dream to be that catalyst for students who struggle with anything academic.