Brian is a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Washington, specializing in the History of Science. He received his BS in Biology from the University of Michigan and an MA in the History of Science from Oregon State University. He has worked as a teacher and teaching assistant at UW. He has had articles published in Scientia Canadensis and Endeavour, and is the recipient of numerous academic fellowships. When he is not madly writing his dissertation or looking for creative ways not to write it, he enjoys cooking, urban exploration, reading everything he can about everything (and only partly succeeding), and finding order amid chaos. Brian’s wide-ranging curiosity is something that informs his tutoring and in turn motivates him to bring out the curiosity in each student. The Society for the History of Natural History once declared Brian one of the world’s leading historians of science, a label he heartily embraces.
Tutoring Subjects: History, Study Skills, English, Reading, Writing, Biology
Test Prep: SAT II History (US, European, and World), Literature
Students: K – Adult
Brian’s Teaching Philosophy:
I view learning as, fundamentally, a process of discovery. Students have particular interests and talents that they begin to uncover and develop over the course of their education. My role as a tutor is to serve as a guide in this journey. Putting students at the center of their own education makes for a much more satisfying educational experience and helps ensure that what students have learned stays with them. Students have significant ability to teach themselves by bringing forth new ideas about and interpretations of the material they’re learning.
It’s important for me to establish a good rapport with a student early on. I start out by giving students space to articulate, in their own words, both what they enjoy about learning and what is frustrating them. Out of these discussions, we can work together to identify short-term and long-term goals, and these goals can change in response to the students’ discoveries that they make over time. We can then move on to more specific discussions and activities. I endeavor, at every tutoring session, to help students arrive at their own understanding of the material that they’re learning. This means that I not only focus on content, but also on more general writing and study skills that students can apply in a number of ways and with respect to a number of subjects. I also highlight students’ accomplishments as we go along; it’s not unusual, in my experience, for students to find that they’ve actually learned much more than they originally thought after starting a new subject or new topic. Different students also have different learning styles, and I adapt my tutoring based on how students engage with their course material; some students, for example, may respond to a step-by-step method when figuring out how to write a history essay, while others prefer a looser, more conversational approach.
In the end, I believe I’ve succeeded as a tutor if I’ve not only been able to help students realize their goals, but also if students have discovered something new and enriching that they can take with them as they move forward.
Chris triple-majored at the UW, graduating with degrees in Physics, Astronomy and History. Four years later, Chris added to his accolades an MS in Mechanical Engineering. His passion for engineering and alternative energy led to a job at the Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment. Chris believes “patience is the key to tutoring” and loves helping students with difficult concepts. In his words, “education is a joint exploration of ideas. I lead the way and share my experiences so that students will develop their own understanding of the subject matter. This experience is so fulfilling, it motivates me, and in turn the student, to achieve the educational goals that we both desire.” In his spare time Chris enjoys playing basketball and softball, and rocks in Nefarious Jones as singer and guitarist.
Tutoring Subjects: Math, Physics, Chemistry, History, Computer Skills, Study Skills
Test Prep: PSAT, SAT I, SAT II, ACT, GRE, GMAT, Praxis, West-B, West-E, ACT Explore, MAT, ISEE, SSAT, Compass Test
Students: Grade 8 – Adult
Chris’s Teaching Philosophy:
My philosophy for teaching is founded on a love for knowledge and learning and a desire to dedicate my life to educating students. As a teacher, I believe that I have a responsibility to inspire students to pursue knowledge actively and to become independent thinkers. In considering how one goes about sharing one’s love of learning, it is important to consider that learning strategies differ widely and that teaching strategies are not always easily matched with students’ needs. In addition, students bring widely varying knowledge bases to the table in each subject area. Each tutoring session is unique and varies according to the background and learning preferences of that particular student. A further complication is that students also bring different levels of maturity, interest and motivation. My challenge is to make course materials accessible to all students and to be responsive to individuals who are having difficulty integrating new material while not boring others with a more qualified background.
Tutoring is Christopher’s second career. Engineering was his first. For more than 25 years he was a systems and controls engineer working on complex equipment for airplanes and helicopters such as the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, B-2 Spirit bomber and the 787 Dreamliner. Christopher has applied math and physics to many real-world problems and this experience informs his tutoring. But it was his passion for learning and continued studies after earning a master of science degree in mechanical engineering that eventually led him to want to teach. He enjoys sharing what he knows and helping others achieve greater understanding and skill.
News reports about the struggles of students to achieve in core subjects like math, reading, and writing inspired Christopher to finally make the career switch and do what he can to help – one student at a time!
Christopher has an easy-going personality and sense of humor. In addition to being an engineer-turned-tutor, he’s been a farmhand, landscaper, and building manager. He has a patent too (but unfortunately never got rich from it!).
When Christopher is not tutoring, he enjoys most a hot cup of coffee and a good philosophy book while sitting outside on a cool sunny morning (or inside when it’s raining!). He’s also a fan of NHL hockey and follows his hometown team the Buffalo Sabres. You might also pass him walking around Green Lake near his home.
Tutoring Subjects: Math thorugh Precalculus, History, Philosophy, Physics, Writing, Study Skills
Test Prep: PSAT, SAT, ACT
Students: Grade 6 – Adult
Christopher’s Teaching Philosophy:
As a college professor of mine used to say, we tend to dislike what we don’t understand. This is true of most things but especially mathematics – a
subject notorious for causing many headaches in the lives of students (and parents) and sometimes even a distaste for school and learning in general. This is most unfortunate.
While some students enlist a tutor to advance and enrich their learning beyond regular schoolwork, many students seek help to overcome various challenges impeding their academic achievement. I decided to become a tutor to help students avoid negative school experiences and the longer-term negative attitudes toward education these can foster, and instead help students experience the joy of coming to understand what had confused them; of mastering what had challenged them.
Working one-on-one with a student as a tutor enables their idiosyncratic learning style and particular needs to become clearer. Everyone is different so it is important to find out how a student learns, and is thinking and feeling about the subject under study, to be an effective tutor. I adapt what I ask, show and tell students as I learn who they are and what seems to be impeding their progress. Patience for the process is essential.
When I see a student struggling I first ask them what it is they do not understand. Sometimes they can articulate what is getting in their way but it’s not unusual for them to say they don’t know. In such situations I observe, listen and analyze to see if I can hit upon what they don’t understand, or possibly misunderstand. Such insights are like a key that opens a door – enabling a breakthrough in the student’s education; the proverbial light bulb turns on. Students will usually express relief and smile at such moments – making this work very worthwhile!
A math specialist, Dave joins University Tutoring after earning his undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Willamette University, and his Masters in Teaching (Secondary Mathematics) from the University of Washington. Dave started tutoring while at Willamette University, and eventually decided that he wanted to pursue teaching. In addition to his experience at Willamette and the University of Washington, Dave spent a year in Thailand, where he broadened his tutoring repertoire.
Dave’s tutoring strength comes from his patience and his ability to take time to really discuss concepts and tackle challenging problems. Complimenting his knowledge of mathematical concepts is Dave’s innate sense of humor and his ability to provide a low stress environment that focuses on learning.
In addition to tutoring, Dave is an avid sports fan and enjoys hiking, biking, backpacking and traveling.
Tutoring Subjects: Math through Calculus, Study Skills
Test Prep: PSAT, SAT, SAT II (Math I & II), ACT
Students: Grade K – Adult
Dave’s Teaching Philosophy:
Dave’s teaching philosophy coming soon!
Currently a Chemist Advisor and Brewer at a local brewery and part owner in a startup company, Jack graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, though he originally intended a degree in engineering. In college Jack worked for four years in cancer research focusing on Glioblastoma multiforme (brain tumors). Jack says that his experience in cancer research “was valuable in [his] education, but that learning in a class setting was more exciting”.
Jack came to University Tutoring because he finds tutoring to be one of the most gratifying jobs, and he enjoys exploring math and science with students. Jack’s tutoring style is best described as focusing on the student’s ability to problem solve rather than strictly helping a student memorize a concept in order to pass a test or an assignment. “This is beneficial for the long term success of students. Guiding students through their problems will instill confidence,” Jack says. He also encourages his students to question everything.
When Jack is not tutoring, or brewing, he lives a very active life filled with rock climbing, snowboarding, rugby, and hiking.
Tutoring Subjects: Math through Precalculus, Chemistry, Biology
Students: Grade 8 – Adult
Jack’s Teaching Philosophy:
My philosophy of teaching is founded on the fact that knowledge is not based solely on the memorization one can achieve but on the problem solving abilities and concepts one can acquire. As a student, I always struggled with my ability to read and to memorize and so as a teacher, I don’t expect my students to memorize how to solve each question they come across. Instead I try and give students the tools and confidence to tackle their own problems so tests, quizzes, or homework can be viewed as just a collection of mental puzzles. Understanding the concepts and the reasoning in math and science is what makes these subjects fun.
Currently at work earning a double degree in Psychology and Biology, Julia’s ultimate goal is to earn her Masters in Occupational Therapy. Julia’s laid-back tutoring style helps maintain a comfortable, low stress environment for students. Adaptable to different student learning styles, Julia works to ensure that each student has a supportive environment in which they are confident both giving and receiving feedback on the tutoring process. “I like being able to help people,” Julia says, “and to not have them feel like their goals are out of reach because they cannot perform well in one class or on one test.” During her downtime between tutoring and pursuing her own academic goals Julia enjoys yoga and recently completed her first half marathon.
Tutoring Expertise: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Math through Algebra 2, History, English, Study Skills
Test Prep: SAT, GRE
Julia’s Teaching Philosophy:
My teaching philosophy is that students excel when they believe they are good at something or are excited to learn about it. It can be incredibly demoralizing to not feel capable or not care about a subject. I believe in combating that by giving students multiple ways of approaching problems so they can find what suits them best. Better at visualizing? Draw out the problem. Better at learning auditory? Use videos and read your papers out loud to catch mistakes. This way the student can feel like they are capable and in charge of their own learning, I am merely giving them strategies and support along the way.
I believe in this approach because not only does it help students in the short term being able to tackle a particular problem, it teaches students that they can apply different strategies in their mental toolbox to any situation. This gives them a good set up for study skills and practices in the future. I often find that once I set up how to go about a problem, the student is completely capable of solving it.
By exploring different strategies together, we are also able to build up a good repertoire. I think it is important that the student be comfortable around me and be able to give me feedback as well. That way we can progress towards the same goals together.
Aside from being a tutor, Lukas is a freelance audio engineer and music producer. Lukas has worked with many different musicians and collaborators, including EDM, corporate jingles, and California dream-pop. His current projects include working closely with local songwriters, and helping to develop their live shows.
Lukas describes his tutoring style as easygoing and conversational. “I try to keep the student talking as much as possible to keep them engaged. I get my students to analyze their own thinking in order to optimize their problem-solving skills,” he says. Lukas’s favorite part of tutoring is helping students succeed, even the small successes, such as “that wasn’t as hard as I thought,” Lukas finds this very gratifying. “Being a small part of a young person’s intellectual development is very meaningful to me, and I am grateful for the opportunity,” Lukas says.
When Lukas is not tutoring, or working on music projects, you can find Lukas working on his car, playing tennis, writing songs, playing video games, and bird watching. This summer Lukas will be going on tour in Asia playing bass with the San Francisco based band “The Bilinda Butchers”.
Tutoring Expertise: Math through Precalculus
Test Prep: SAT, ACT
Students: 8th – adult
Lukas’s Teaching Philosophy:
“Nothing succeeds like success.” I don’t remember who said this to me or when I first heard it, but it really stuck. Most students who enter tutoring are struggling with some aspect of their academic life. Even submitting to the idea of “needing a tutor” can be detrimental to the confidence of a student. My primary goal is to help put them on a path where they feel confident about their ability to grapple with difficult ideas and challenges they may face. I hope that this confidence can transcend their academic life and help them beyond the classroom.
When I think about teachers who had an impact on me, I remember the ones who opened up a new way to view the world. I always try to address the age-old questions most students ask while staring at their math books, “why do I have to learn this?” and “what’s the point?” Even if they don’t ask me these questions directly, I always begin my lessons by addressing the “big picture” of how the topic they are currently studying fits in with their mathematical past and future, as well as ways that it can manifest in their daily life. Even the most disillusioned students can be become more engaged when they see how mathematics uncover some of the world’s everyday magic. Even if I can’t turn my student into a math wizard, if I can at least show them the value of understanding mathematics and instill an appreciation of its importance in the world, I consider my work with them a success.
Marie has a BA in Elementary education with a special education major from Western Washington University. Marie obtained her degree after returning from Mexico where she lived for 7 years teaching English to children and adults. After teaching English she became motivated to return to school after many years to get her BA, this allowed her more opportunities to teach in various programs in Seattle. Teaching has become her passion and a way for her to give back to her community. She is good at building relationships with kids and quickly becoming their “guide” in their learning adventure. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, yoga, dancing and volunteering with the homeless in our city.
Tutoring Expertise: Spanish, Study Skills, Reading, Writing, Math through Pre-Algebra, General Science, Special Education
Test Prep: SAT II (Spanish)
Students: K – Grade 8
Marie’s Teaching Philosophy:
My teaching philosophy is to be a guide for my students. I always tell them “You had the answer all along; you just needed me to help you find it!” I know that every student is unique and needs to have all their learning styles addressed, that is why I teach a differentiated lesson that meets my student’s needs by seeing what their particular learning styles are. I try to incorporate fun and learning in the lessons to keep my students engaged. Building a relationship with each student and getting to know them helps in my success in teaching and their success in learning. My students don’t have to do things perfectly; they just have to do their very best.
A self-confessed work-a-holic, Michael keeps himself incredibly busy both inside our office and out of it. He approaches tutoring as a cooperative effort, striving to empower students as he works alongside them to bolster their content knowledge: “Tutoring for me is a connection between peers. We are working together to meet a common goal.” This year, he is serving as a Writer-in-Residence with Seattle’s Writers-in-the-Schools (WITS) program, and was accepted into the Teaching Artist Training Lab (TATL). When he’s not tutoring, Michael can be found writing, reading voraciously, fueling his broad interests through documentaries, news outlets, and non-fiction, or spending time outside: hiking, camping, or kayaking.
Tutoring Expertise: Academic and Creative Writing, Reading Comprehension, Math through Algebra II, Spanish, German, US and World History, College Application Essays, Journalism, Study Skills
Test Prep: SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, GRE, SAT Subject Tests, AP Subject Tests
Michael’s Teaching Philosophy:
I am a firm believer that education expands far beyond the reach of the classroom. As teachers, I believe that it is our responsibility to coach and mentor students in a way that will empower them to take control of their own education. Since each student posesses his or her own unique set of skills and abilities, it is essential that we, as teachers, alter our approach to maximize student abilities. As a teacher, I focus on building a positive, encouraging, and enjoyable atmosphere for students, while simultaneously providing honest and specific feedback. Ultimately, I feel that students and teachers are a team working towards a common goal. As a life long learner and writer, I believe that there is no single way to learn and no single approach for academic success. What I do believe is that we should all be in a process of continual refinement, maintaining what Shunryu Suzuki called “The Beginner’s Mind.”
Mimi has earned her B.S. degree from the University of Washington in Developmental Psychology where she became spellbound with young children and their development and learning in those early years. She became interested in how children adapt and learn in their early years and how very differently learning can be for each individual child. This led her to obtain additional graduate degree in Special Education from the University of Washington. Mimi believes that all children have great abilities and are keen on learning given the proper tools and environment. Mimi challenges the students to develop these tools to learn, to explore and to solve. This will help them feel empowered and successful all around.
In her free time Mimi enjoys reading, athletic workouts, traveling, and helping family and neighbors in need.
Tutoring Expertise: Reading, Math and Social Sciences, learning skills and self-organization, Study Skills
Test Prep: ISEE, SSAT
Students: K- Grade 5
Mimi’s Teaching Philosophy:
My philosophy in teaching is to support, encourage, and motivate students to love to learn and to seek answers and in so doing apply themselves to the highest level. I believe that each student has a set of skills and many strengths and this is where I begin which each student. I encourage and inspire them to use their skills and strengths as a building block to the next step and the next. I like to be positive and accepting of each student yet I want them to achieve the goals and plans that we set up for their tutoring sessions.
A Canadian-Southern Californian and die-hard Angels fan, Phil brings experience in teaching, tutoring, and the mind of a middle-schooler to his work at University Tutoring. After earning a BA in Philosophy from UCLA, Phil tutored elementary through college students while getting his single subject math credential in California. He has taught math to sixth through eighth grades; he has also worked for a national non-profit environmental organization and has experience with work in the legal and corporate worlds. He says, “working with each student is a process, a puzzle, and always a pleasure. Little victories such as an A on a test or an ‘Aha’ moment can be the building blocks to excellence.” Phil was our Administrative Assistant for 2009-2010 and enjoyed quizzing students on what they had just learned.
Tutoring Subjects: Math, Study Skills
Test Prep: PSAT, SAT, ACT, ACT Explore, MAT, ISEE, SSAT
Students: K – Adult
Phil’s Teaching Philosophy:
For me, tutoring is a scaffolding exercise moving a student forward to achieve both day-to-day and long-term goals. Those goals tend to be grounded in a combination of student needs from content to study skills to coping with anxiety. Each student’s needs are different “ while one may need help with the material, another may need help staying organized. Needs are different even day to day with the same student, based on the world of experience the student brings in each meeting. That said, most students can benefit from a mix of content and process work while maintaining a look at the big picture of the student’s stated goals and metrics. My goal as a tutor is to provide a comfortable learning environment for my student while providing my knowledge and insight aimed at achieving both short-term and long-term learning goals. As programs develop, I like students to be a part of goal building and assessment. I really enjoy the tutoring experience and make a point to have a good time in my sessions.