I am the sole proprietor of my business. However, I'm no businesswoman. I have scientific training from University of Chicago from my BA in Biology, and I received training in the humanities from my Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Riverside. I guess first and foremost, I'm a lifelong scholar. I'm also a mother and a wife and lifelong mentor to many of my college students and high school students. To the consternation of my business colleagues, I pay my bills in order to teach. I'm blessed in that I can jump out of bed in the morning even if there are piles of laundry, stacks of bills, and four yowling kitties nipping my toes, simply because what I do for a living brings me joy and fulfilment. You can get to know me better at www.satprepclub.com and/or at www.facebook.com/tspc.mary.song.phd/.
It is very important to me to keep teaching because over the two decades of teaching, I have discovered many myths that students believe in that they shouldn't.
First, many students might think they are not very bright because somewhere along the line, a teacher's frustration and exasperation made that student feel dumb. SO TOXIC. Let me say this crystal clear: It is a teacher's essential function to have at least FIFTY different ways to teach the exact same concept because EVERYONE learns differently. If you don't get what your teacher is saying, it's THEIR FAULT, NOT YOURS. It is a teacher's job to figure out how to explain it to your optimal comprehension skills. If they are simply repeating themselves over and over, they need to go learn how to be a better teacher. Okay that's my most acerbic commentary.
Second, the most popular and frequent introductory comment I get from my composition and rhetoric college students is: "I'm not very good at writing." Heheheh, that's okay. To my ears, I hear something like, "I'm sorry I'm not a virtuoso piano player." No worries! Us comp instructors don't expect you to even like writing much less be a virtuoso. That's why we're here. :)
Third, there is absolutely nothing more fulfilling to me than that AHA! moment on a student's face when they just "got" it - whatever concept, rule, seemingly impossible abstract notion that academia puts forth.... It is the gasoline that ignites my fire for teaching.
Fourth, on a pretty personal level, way back in the pre-child years when I was an angsty single young lady, in my worst bout of depression ever, the one thing that kept me going, the one thing that made me get up and out of bed every morning, was my job. NOT because I had a scary boss, but because it was my one beacon of light. Because I knew if I just at least made it to the classroom, 90 minutes later, I would be able to see the sun behind the clouds. It is my evidence that I know I was meant to teach.
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Before a parent even hires me, I invite students and parents to my home so that we can chat and get to know each other. I do this because teachers, just like doctors, therapists, and interior decorators, need to be the right fit for their students. Not only is this a chance for parents to assess me, my home, my personality, my character, etc, it is a chance for me to observe whether a parent is forcing their child to be my student or if the student is ready and willing to work with me. I am committed to prioritizing my student's perspective above all else. If that means it does not look like my services will benefit them, I will be the first to suggest to parents that I may not be the best option.
Starting from the beginning:
I started tutoring around the age of 14 years old. Nobody was "getting" algebra like I was, so parents rallied round and asked my parents to let me do some tutoring.
I continued to tutor throughout college (University of Chicago, BA in biology) and post-college during my wanderings through pre-med studies and somehow making my way finally into a Ph.D. program in English literature at the University of California, Riverside.
Once I started graduate school, of course to avoid massive school loans, I taught basic composition and rhetoric at UCR for the next six years as well as at all the nearby community colleges.
To this day, I still teach at community colleges as that is where I feel most effective rather than teaching "high" literature in a university setting.
Somewhere along the way, about eight years ago, I also started my own SAT-test prep company (after working in a few prior to that). I love having the autonomy to teach authentically and wholly according to the teaching philosophy that I so passionately believe in.
No, I have standard prices listed on my website as a starting baseline. However, I am also a regular parent with a middle-class income status lol. I am willing to work with parents on payment plans, various discounts, etc. I so encourage parents to go ahead and call me and set up an appointment so that they can see my house, my family, and be reassured that if they're willing to work with me, I'm willing to work with them. It's all about that village right?
As a graduate student, you can subsidize your tuition not by crippling yourself with loans (although I have those too), but by teaching. The first time I went in front of a classroom, it was love at first eraserboard marker and projector switch. Connecting with students is what makes me feel like I'm participating with the cosmic movement of humanity. The literal answer to this of course is that I've been tutoring since 8th grade when my friends figured out I "got" math better than everyone and that I could "teach" it better than the teacher.
Fellow students in private prep school. Inner-city kids in south side of Chicago, college kids in elite Pomona suburbs, ex-gangsters in East Los Angeles, suburb kids in Seattle area, any kids in any neighborhood I happen to live in....
Having just moved from busy southern California to sweet Dickinson Texas, my son and I were driving home from Target when on the side of the road a mama cow was birthing her little black calf. We went bonkers. We turned around, pulled over and just marveled at the mama licking her wobbly wet baby. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
My area of expertise in SAT prep: find someone who understands that standardized testing is not the work of the devil, but a simple test that can be mastered. Find someone who understands that it's about the basics and NOT the fancy extras. Find someone who can see the benefits of the standardized testing industry rather than focus on its shortcomings.
My area of expertise in English: find someone who loves literature. Without a love for the written language, writing and reading is drudgery, but someone who has truly connected to the thousands of brilliant minds over the centuries of humanity, this is something that transforms writing and reading into an invaluable gift.
My area of expertise in math: find someone who focuses on the joy and inspiration of math. Something as abstract as math can be better learned if we can recognize the aesthetic beauty in it first.
Okay this is me but: nothing. Students should be an open and filterless and go ahead and ask their teachers anything and everything. We need to know our students' needs. It can be up to the teacher then to guide their students to exercise the kind of thinking patterns and assessment skills required for successful independent cognitive acquisition. However, before that, teachers should never discourage students from asking any question whatsoever. It will make for a more successful learning experience if teachers take the initiative to assess this first.
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