My highest degree (i.e., Ph.D.) is in education. I have been teaching, coaching, mentoring, and tutoring students for over 30 years in a variety of subjects. Earlier in my own career, I conducted several workshops for individuals seeking to enhance their career or to change their career. These workshops consisted on first doing an interest and skills inventory, followed by research, then how to write a resume, and completing an impactful interview.
While my teaching background is in higher education for 30+ years, it extends to K12 as well, because for the last four years, I have been tutoring at elementary and middle schools in the Denver metro area. The subjects I tutor include reading, writing, math, social studies, and geography, to name a few. During the time I have been tutoring, I have familiarized myself with the core elementary, middle, and high school curricula. Therefore, I can say with certainty that I have the qualifications to tutor children who are having difficulty in school. For example, reading is reading is reading. And children must learn at a very early age the alphabet, the rules of grammar, how to sound out words, and the like. Similarly, children must learn at an early age to write in a clear and understandable manner. My philosophy regarding learning. . . at any age . . . is that it must be nurtured. Let me help you help your child in her/his studies.
Speaking, reading, and writing English is a strength of mine. This is the language that the majority of world uses to communicate. My proficiency in English comes from having read avidly as a child, and even into adulthood. This hobby of mine has resulted in my developing a strong vocabulary--no more using the same old tired words to express myself. More importantly, I currently coach individuals in a variety of communication areas, which include oral, written, team, multicultural, and intergenerational communication. Also, with my teaching career that spans over 30 years, I am in a very good position to coach individuals on how to correctly express themselves in English in both the spoken and the written word.
Make no mistake about it . . . compared to, say, the romance langues (i.e., Spanish, French, Italian, etc.), English is a difficult language to learn and to master. But one can learn it and be proficient in it. I say English is difficult, because take the alphabet, for example . . . the letter A. Although this letter is pronounced with a long sound, there are many words with this letter than have a sharp pronunciation (apple, for example). My strategy for helping students who have English as a second language is to use a conversational method. For example, speaking in general terms about common, everyday things builds confidence. From there, I introduce individuals to more complex processes, such as reading different types of books. Repetition is key in mastering English as a second language. Therefore, I encourage individuals to practice saying words out loud over and over until they feel that the words can roll off their tongue easily.
Grammar, as with reading, must be taught at an early age if children are going to mature into articulate young men and women. And, having good grammar skills takes time and practice. Although children have a good sense of what they want to say, often they do not say it using correct rules of grammar. For example, recently I was watching a TV show in which a little boy was lost and being held at the police station awaiting his parents. When his father arrived and the child saw him, he yelled, “You finded him"! This was considered very cute, but if this child is not taught that the past tense of “find” is “found,” he will continue to speak in this manner.
Unfortunately, in my 30+ years of teaching, I have found that some children grow into adulthood not knowing how to be grammatically correct in their speaking or in their writing. My strategy for tutoring skills in grammar is to first put things into context. If I am talking about something that happened last week, I ensure that the past tense is used. If about today; the present tense; and if about tomorrow or next week, the future tense is used. In order for children to improve their grammar skills, I encourage them to speak and express themselves, and then take those opportunities to guide them. Whether you are a child or an adult, let me help you improve your grammar.
Aaah . . . you are breathing a sigh of relief. The research paper, essay, book report is complete. Or is it? Take my word for it, the second most important step needs to happen right now. I am referring to proofreading. With my 30+ years of teaching, I can tell immediately when a student has taken the time to proofread her/his paper, and when a student has not. It is true that we have a lot of help these days (i.e., spell check, grammar check, and the like). These tools can help in many ways to locate spelling and punctuation errors, as well as sentence structure errors. But let me assure you that these tools will not help you with the most important aspect of your document . . . and that is to ensure that you are conveying the message you intend to convey. This is where proofreading comes in. Proofreading only with your eyes is not enough. To really catch the meaning of what you have written, you need to read the paper out loud. I have many more tips on being successful at proofreading your paper that I can share with you when we begin working together.
Since 1996, I have owned and operated a communication training company. My coaching strategy begins with videotaping the client giving a sample presentation. We look at the tape together, and identify problem areas (for example, if they are not maintaining eye contact with the audience, or if they are fiddling with pens or other objects while speaking, etc.). I coach my clients on the steps needed to ensure a successful presentation, beginning with audience analysis. Coaching also involves how to research, how to rehearse, the best time of day or evening for them to present, the importance of checking on the acoustics of the room, getting the proper rest before presenting, and so forth. The idea is for my clients to get over their fear of public speaking, and to embrace each speaking opportunity with the utmost confidence.
It is one thing to know how to read, and quite another to understand what you read. Although my 30+ years of teaching has been with adult learners, I have had the privilege of volunteering at several elementary schools, helping children with their reading. Let’s face it . . . reading does not come naturally. It must be taught, and taught well. And, it must be taught early. Before a child can read a sentence, that child needs to be able to read words. And before they read words, they need to have a solid grasp of the alphabet and the correct pronunciation(s) of each letter of the alphabet. Once children know how to read, they will begin to love reading . . . and that love of reading must be fed. Now let’s move to adults. A key to understanding what you read is to get in the habit of having a dictionary handy. It makes no sense to finish reading a sentence or a paragraph, and have no idea what some of the words mean. How can you tell what the punch line is if you don’t know the meaning of the words?! The above are just some of my thoughts and philosophies on reading. Let me share more with you. More importantly, let me help you improve your reading skills.
The majority of my formative years were spent in Central America. Therefore, I am fluent in Spanish--both reading and writing. The good news is that because I learned another language (i.e., English) at a very early age, I can help individuals to express themselves in a comfortable manner. I coach individuals that it is quite all right to say a word in English, rather than get nervous trying to find the exact Spanish translation right at the moment. My strategy is to help individuals speak Spanish conversationally first, before they move on to more complex ways of communicating in a foreign language. Let me help you become as proficient in Spanish as I am.
I have been teaching for over 30 years at the higher education level, and tutoring for over 4 years at the K-12 level; therefore, I know a great deal about how to coach students on studying to achieve results. The following is a high level summary of my strategies—this summary is directed toward parents of K-12 students, as well as toward college level students. Some of the things I will want to find out right from the beginning are whether or not the student likes to study. For some students, the motivation to study comes naturally; for others it’s a chore. Next, I will want to find out if there are certain subjects the student likes to study (and why), as well as the subjects s/he does not like to study (and why). These are just two of the many areas I will want to explore. My strategy, then, will depend upon what I have learned about the student. For example, if the student is a morning person, then I would recommend that some study time be spent in the morning, and so forth. Of course, there are many more suggestions I will make, based on what I know about the student. My ultimate goal is for the student to have the feeling that they can’t wait to get started with their studying.
Words, words, words . . . I really enjoy talking about the importance of having a rich and varied vocabulary! And, what’s behind that richness is the love of reading. It’s wonderful to have the ability to describe things (using both the spoken word and the written word) in many different ways . . . not using the same old tired words. As with grammar and reading, vocabulary is developed at a young age. The majority of my 30+ years of teaching have been with adults, but I also volunteer at elementary schools, helping children with reading and other subjects. Recently, I was working with a first grader with counting money. I laid out 5 pennies and asked her if there were two other ways she could describe how much the coins are worth. She smiled and said, “5 pennies equal a nickel” and “5 pennies equal five cents.” This is a simple example, but it demonstrates one of the techniques I use to help children say the same thing in different ways. With my older students, I encourage them to not only have a dictionary handy, but also a thesaurus. I will hold my favorite vocabulary-building activity for when we meet for a tutoring session. So be sure to let me know how I can help.
Let's face it, unless you love to write like I do, you probably make a face every time you have a paper that is due. Understanding this, my first strategy is to acknowledge that the individuals whom I tutor may have a certain degree of fear about writing. Following that, I gather as much information about the topic as possible from the individual. Then, I encourage them to begin jotting things down. So often when we begin to write, we try to edit as we go along. Trust me, this slows you down, and prevents the thoughts from flowing freely. I am happy to tutor those who are just starting to write, as well as those who just need to brush up on their writing.