During my long and diverse career, I have taught several subjects and grade levels. Actually, I have taught classes from kindergarten
through adults, but my primary classroom teaching experience was with students at the middle and high school levels. I have also tutored individual and small groups, mainly to increase their reading
, and writing
skills. In addition, I have taught study, reasoning, and test-taking skills in variety of subject areas.
My students have come from a wide spectrum of achievement levels and backgrounds. Generally speaking, I can almost guarantee that the students I work with, especially those I tutor, will increase their grade level scores as well as their interest in learning more about the subject matter or skill sets to the extent possible in the time available. Mutual goal-setting and realistic steps toward the attainment of these goals is an approach that I feel works well with most of my students.
I have also been actively involved for many years in writing test items and developing scoring methods for some of the most widely used standardized tests in the United States. I have worked as a consultant for some major testing companies, such as ETS, Pearson, and McGraw-Hill. Developing writing test prompts (topics) for both students and teachers, and training those who score their responses has been one of my favorite professional activities. (If you are still in school, perhaps you should keep the teacher testing part of this to yourself!)
How did I get away with testing teachers as well as students, you might ask. Along the way, I earned a B.A. in English
, an M.A. in Reading Instruction, and even a Ph.D. in Testing, along with Research and Statistics
(or Sadistics, as those in my classes used to call it). Well-versed in the selection of materials that are suitable and at an appropriate level of readability for tutoring and testing specific students, I have participated in the development of many curriculum and instructional programs, as well as presenting a wide range of in-service programs.
Another application of my background was the development of tests for the skill sets required to perform well in various occupations using information from groups of experts in these vocations and professions. I am able to design or access diagnostic tests to determine a specific student's entry level and progress in the areas of tutoring requested, whether academic or job-related.
With all of this "Tutoring, Teaching, and Testing" (the three "T's," as I fondly call them) going on, you might wonder what kind of person I am to work with. I consider myself to be both knowledgeable and nice! Fortunately, the feedback I have received over the years from my students and their families, teachers, and employers has been overwhelmingly positive as well.
I try to incorporate my students' interests in my tutoring and testing materials unless their interests are contradictory to their instructional needs, of course. Since I have been fortunate to have experienced so many applications of the learning process myself, I know first-hand how teachers, test writers, textbook publishers, and employers think and what kinds of skills they are looking for students to demonstrate. I do not, however, consider my style of tutoring to be simply "teaching to the test," unless that is the specific objective of the student.
I strive to meet my students at their individual skill levels and to tutor them at a pace and with the materials that will accomplish our mutually-defined goals. Sometimes a student, for example, will have excellent skills in some areas of a subject area but need to focus and even "unlearn" misunderstandings about other skills. Our goals for the tutoring process may be pragmatic, such as learning how to pass a certain examination, or more general, such as improving their academic achievement levels overall. I feel that I have a wide range of teaching tools available, and that I can use creativity and versatility to spice up my lessons.
Let me also make it clear that the student does not need to learn how to write items or make instructional materials. It is clearly my job to do that kind of selection and development. The student's role is basically to be open to mutual goal-setting, to be receptive to the tutoring process, and to do the work necessary to achieve our goals.
The tutoring process is truly an investment
in the future; it is a privilege that is not readily available to all students. At this time, the dividends of this process may not even be clear. But whether over the short or long term, it is my pleasure to pledge to you that you will someday look back and see how this process has helped you, perhaps in ways you cannot even imagine right now! I will be proud if I am able to invest in your future as well!