I began tutoring when I was 14 years old.
There was an eight year old girl who was falling behind in her math workbook, and I was a promising student, so my school’s faculty got me in touch with her parents. After getting to know her for the first 20 minutes I started to realize that her challenges were more about confidence than ability. Overbearing parents and teachers made her more worried about getting it wrong than excited about getting it right. We spent the first few sessions just talking about school, the things she enjoys (horses), and her aspirations. Starting from a place where she felt confident in the material we worked our way through the rest of the textbook together. By the end of the year she was the head of her class, and continued to lead the advanced section the following year. She taught me that everyone wants to learn, and most people communicate best on a peer-level. She taught me that I should cater my approach to the student’s perspective, and that I was more creative than I thought. Since then I have tutored everything from multiplication tables to AP Calculus and Chemistry. A dozen students coming to me in disarray, all stemming from their failure to understand the instructor’s approach. We worked together to form an understanding of the material on multiple levels, applying it to the real world and life relevance. Few moments in life give me more satisfaction than that moment of understanding when a slow smile moves across a student’s face.
I believe in the fundamental approach of building people up by creating a supportive atmosphere, identifying gaps in their background, putting the critical pieces in front of them, and encouraging them with positive feedback about their own thought process so that when they solve the puzzle the solution is personal and long-lasting.
Since then I have worked around the North American continent as a trail crew leader, Emergency Medical Technician, sea kayak guide, expedition leader, graduate teaching assistant, volunteer coordinator, climate change researcher, and university instructor. For a complete list of professional experience, see my CV here.