Whether for middle and high school writing, university, graduate school or scholarship applications, I provide a unique amalgam of teaching students of a variety of learning profiles and backgrounds, an insider's perspective on college admissions and the resultant firm grasp of the application process.
In addition, having helped students with documented learning disabilities and executive functioning challenges to learn to read, acquire study skills, and aptly express themselves verbally and in writing, I am an experienced voice who can work alongside your student to help him or her present his or her best self.
My teaching style is encouraging, focused, and efficient.
I love writing, good literature, teaching, and people. Discerning tools that will unlock a student's capacity to grasp a concept and cultivate skills is like being a detective who cracks a case. Working with and witnessing students of any age reach their goals and gain confidence as learners brings unparalleled satisfaction.
I usually am not one to write reviews, but we were so overwhelmingly pleased with working with Caroline O’Brien that I am compelled to write. Caroline has a unique ability to connect with her students and draw the very best out of them. Her background in special education helps her to identify and address any areas of weakness in a student’s educational background and she works to build on their strengths and manages to get the very best work out of them. She is encouraging, compassionate, disciplined, responsible and responsive. Using a delicate balance of humor and expertise, she was able to fully engage my son and put him fully at ease as they worked on something as personal as his writing. My son enjoyed working with her and we couldn’t be more pleased with the final outcome!
Meeting a student in an informal setting like a coffee shop (on me), library, home or a phone conversation helps break the ice and provides a safe forum for communicating areas of strengths, weaknesses, interests, and dislikes. This initial conversation also provides a knowledge base which allows me to capitalize on a student’s strengths when helping a student develop writing prowess. Using a passion as a means of cultivating writing skills bears more fruit than writing about contrived, banal topics. A positive, casual social exchange provides the necessary opportunity for each to ask questions and for each to ascertain whether the match is a good one. This helps lay the foundation for a respectful working relationship.
After a brief meeting or phone call, we schedule the first tutorial during which we set goals. Thenceforth, we use the student’s class material or material developed by me as a vehicle for goal achievement. To ensure efficiency in the following meeting, each session concludes with a verbal understanding, as well as a follow-up email of what will be covered and the expectations of the next meeting.
My twenty-five year background in education includes teaching and consulting in both public and private school settings. After working as an admissions counselor at Bates College, I earned my Masters in Special Needs from Simmons College. While earning my Masters, I worked at the Landmark School in Manchester, MA, which specializes in teaching children of average to above average intelligence who have language-based learning disabilities. There I was trained in both the Lindamood-Bell Auditory Discrimination in Depth program (ADD) and the Visualization and Verbalization programs. The latter was the subject of my Master's Thesis.
Following my teaching at Landmark, I worked in Topsfield, MA as a special education teacher. As such I conducted diagnostic evaluations; wrote and presented diagnostic reports; taught children with special needs in small groups, one-on-one instruction, as well as co-taught with regular education staff; and provided consultations and training to regular education staff. After moving to Maine, I tutored students at Berwick Academy in writing and reading comprehension and provided consultation to Berwick Academy staff. I currently help students with the college application process, provide workshops to parents and students on that process, and tutor elementary students with reading and writing challenges.
I charge $70 per hour for tutoring English and for specialized reading instruction.
I charge $75 per hour as a college application and admissions consultant.
I started teaching twenty-six years ago at the Landmark School. It began as a desire to work with children in a classroom setting. It evolved into a passion for helping children (challenged by traditional teaching methods to learn to read) crack the written code and access meaning from print. It continued to morph into a love of helping students clearly and artfully express themselves verbally and in writing. All my experiences in education, whether diagnostic, teaching small groups or large, presenting workshops, or working in college admissions have been profoundly rewarding.
The students with whom I have worked range from elementary-aged and middle school-aged children from a wide range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds who were challenged to learn in traditional educational settings, to high school seniors bound for prestigious colleges. The younger students required specialized reading and writing instruction, the middle-school-aged children required specialized instruction in study skills and note taking, and the older students benefitted from demystifying what they perceived as the elusive writing process. The seniors with whom I worked required help with organization of ideas, consistency of voice, fluency, and apt word choice to finalize an exquisite, compelling college essay.
I had the privilege and the joy of watching one of my students perform musically. As she described the experience, she likened harmonizing to the deeply satisfying first sip of rich coffee.
In addition to translating experiences into words that invite the reader and listener vividly into them, I am very fond of playing and performing music, having played at many an event and in the Boston subways. Guitar is what I play, but my instrument is really my voice. On a recent Saturday afternoon a group of friends gathered in our sun-saturated living room with ukuleles and guitars in tow. The unison of instruments and harmony of voice yielded a rapture for hours that that first fleeting sip of perfect coffee offers only for a precious second.
After reviewing the qualifications of the prospective teacher and being assured of his or her competence in the subskills of the subject matter and profession, request an informal interview. Within a matter of minutes you will know whether or not you connect and communicate well with him or her. Feeling comfortable with the person is paramount, because discomfort, boredom, and anxiety are enemies of learning.
Bring a list of questions to ask. Anyone expecting to be hired will appreciate the effort invested to find a good match. Don't be afraid to ask tricky questions, like, "How will you handle it if I don't understand your explanation, or if I'm just tired and off one day?". You want to get your money's worth.
I love this question, as it fosters self-awareness and metacognition, so that students know what works for them and can communicate their needs. How do I communicate? How long am I able to sit before losing my ability to attend? Do I need a lot of explanations or as few words as possible?
Know how you learn and what type of teachers have reached you most effectively. Was it the quiet teacher who measured every word that landed in your mind? Or the teacher who had an anecdote to illustrate every point? The strict, focused teacher who kept everyone in line, or the teacher that added levity and humor? Are you a social learner who learns through discussion, or more of an analytical learner who wants an expert to inform you? Or both? Or a common sense learner who wants to know why they are learning what they are learning and if it will matter in ten years? Knowing how you learn best AND how to communicate that (no small feat) will help you identify a tutor that will meet your needs. It will also help you and your tutor use your precious resource of time most efficiently and enjoyably.