Hello prospective student! I'm a 27-year-old beginning a PhD in computational neuroscience at UC Berkeley. My credentials include a BA in chemistry from Northwestern University, a Certificate of Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) from International House Krakow, and most recently an MS in computational biology from George Mason University. I taught English in Poland and South Korea for two years, and have three years and ~800 hours of experience tutoring high school science and math.
I know how school is. I've spent plenty of time in the roles of both student and teacher. There are serious issues with the way our education system both motivates and tests students. All too often, the time and grade pressures of school stunt exploration and incentivize the memorization of the exact procedures needed to succeed on exams-- i.e. school implicitly "teaches to the test". The students that get sucked into this trap are missing out intellectually, but there are also serious consequences for their future grades. If a student is unable to apply concepts from algebra and calculus outside of the limited context of math textbook exercises, she will have a *very* difficult time with high school and college-level physics and chemistry.
I live in reality and know that most students are not going to be scientists. My first priority is to ensure students do well on their exams because high grades are the ticket to a good university. However, I also try to instill in my students the intellectual motor necessary to develop deep understanding. They must learn how to teach themselves. Concretely, this means I constantly ask questions to check understanding and select difficult problems that force them to apply concepts in multiple contexts. My hope is that they will internalize my role and learn how to flesh out and check their own understanding.
This tutoring philosophy and methodology is complemented by years of experience teaching difficult students. In Poland, I taught ESL to busy and tired adults at Motorola Krakow and other Krakovian businesses. In South Korea, for one and a half years I gave private lessons to a few adults while teaching full-time at a private English school for kids of age 6-15. In both cases, many of my students were... less than motivated. The Korean kids had been raised on a steady diet of rookie, 20-something foreign English teachers from a young age. They knew *exactly* how to exploit the weaknesses of this species, and were typically more interested in drawing cartoons, cell phone games, and wrestling each other than they were in learning English.
These experiences taught me to grab my students' attention and hold on like a friendly pit bull. Over the last three years I have applied it in a 1-on-1 setting here in the USA. While living in the Washington DC area and obtaining the necessary academic credentials and research experience for a transition from chemistry to computational neuroscience, I worked with over 50 students tutoring the full gamut of high school science and math courses. These include AP physics (all levels), AP chemistry, AP calculus (all levels), and AP statistics, among others.
I have just recently moved to Berkeley and am seeking new students. I tutor only in downtown Berkeley, but my tutoring schedule is very flexible. Thank you for your consideration!
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