The Value of Academic Reinforcement

April 16th, 2014

The Value of Academic Reinforcement

 

In almost two full years of working at the Study Hut, I’ve been able to see just how important supplemental education (in many forms) is for today’s young students. It’s nuanced at times, but there are myriad ways that seemingly inconsequential aspects of learning can change everything. Some of these things are just natural aspects of putting college students and grads in a room together and telling them to talk about academics, but in my tenure here I’ve watched the company grow and I’ve grown as a tutor and a person along with it. A particular session comes to mind here, and not because of how unique it was, but because it was extremely typical.

 

One of my weekly students, who we’ll call John Conner, came to me earlier this year to study for a history final. We hadn’t worked much together on history to this point, and John needed to catch up on almost everything covered on this test–we had our work cut out for us.

 

The first thing he asked me was: “Wait, so do you have this all memorized?” It was an honest question, and legitimate. Intuitively speaking, one would probably need to know a lot about US History to prepare someone study for a final exam nearly from scratch, but because of the way we work at the Hut, the way the Hut taught me to teach, and the very nature of supplemental academia, the session wasn’t about what I knew. It was about what John needed to know. We spent that hour combing through the text and his in-class notes to piece together what we agreed were the areas of importance. We spent the time looking for the questions, not the answers.

 

What I mean by all of this is that knowing is never part of my job. It’s about finding out, whether that means learning the material along with the students or just learning about the students themselves. The achilles-heel of today’s schools is the inability of schools to teach on a more personal level with each student. Of course, it’s a numbers game and it would be impossible for even the greatest instructors to personally teach lessons to all of their kids. But that’s the point. Because we’re in a unique position to help bridge the gap between teacher and student, concept and practice, we can always provide an invaluable set of tools for students of all kinds.

 

My knee-jerk reaction to John’s opening question was to say, “No, but you will soon.” This, to me, was the job in a nutshell. We don’t have the answers to the test your student will take, but we might know where to look.

Blog written by a USC tutor

April 15th, 2014

Today we were given a helmet from USC as a gift with the signature of a previous USC Coach. Therefore, we decided to have one of our tutors from USC write us a blog.

During the past four years, I have had the privilege of learning and growing at the University of Southern California.  I learned that graduates of USC not only have advanced knowledge in diverse topics, but are also prepared to share what they know with others.  Most students at USC take advantage of the opportunity to study in different fields and use their interdisciplinary background to understand how others think.  They are then able to apply this to working with students here at Study Hut.

The diverse student body at USC provides unique experiences you cannot get at other schools.  Graduates from USC understand how to work with people who come from different backgrounds and are able to learn from them as well.  This also means that to get into USC, you need to have a diverse background yourself.  Students from USC have tons of extracurricular activities and varying educational interests which helps the USC tutors understand how to work with the different students they help.

Classes at USC provide lots of opportunities for the students to teach different topics.  In almost every class I took, there was an assignment to research and learn about a subject, master that subject, and then present our findings to the class.  We learned how to explain difficult concepts to classmates who had very little background in the topic.  On top of that, the professors encouraged collaboration between classmates when we were studying for exams.  Within study groups, we would break up different topics that needed to be covered and teach the rest of the group.  On the other hand, we would learn from our classmates and understood what teaching methods work and which don’t.  Seeing both sides of teaching and learning helps us USC students understand how to not just teach effectively, but also how to adapt the methods to make sure it fits the student’s learning style.

USC tutors are extremely prepared to teach and alter their teaching method to best fit the student’s learning abilities.  They have diverse backgrounds and a wide base of knowledge that helps them relate to and understand every student making them better tutors.  Lastly, USC graduates are able to spell at an exceptional level and can count higher than 8.

AVID year-end site team meetings!!

April 18th, 2013

What is AVID?

AVID is an Advancement Via Individual Determination: A 4-year elective that helps kids get ready for a 4-year college experience. 
AVID is a bi-weekly tutorial which helps kids keep their GPA up, SAT and ACT tutoring starting in 10th grade, and the rest of the time is focused on expanding their horizons and getting them ready for college.

From their website it says: AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a college readiness system for elementary through higher education that is designed to increase schoolwide learning and performance. The AVID College Readiness System (ACRS) accelerates student learning, uses research based methods of effective instruction, provides meaningful and motivational professional learning, and acts as a catalyst for systemic reform and change.

AVID began in 1980 by Mary Catherine Swanson, then-head of the English department at San Diego’s Clairemont High School. The federal courts issued an order to desegregate the city’s schools, bringing large numbers of inner city students to suburban schools. While applauding the decision, Swanson wondered how these underserved students would survive at academically acclaimed Clairemont High.

Her answer was AVID, an academic elective. But it’s more than a program – it’s a philosophy: Hold students accountable to the highest standards, provide academic and social support, and they will rise to the challenge.

AVID is having their year-end site team meetings. 
Peninsula High School’s meeting was today and Palos Verdes High School is tomorrow
the AVID year-end site team meetings are where parents, students, teachers, and tutors get together to discuss how the year went
and discuss goals for next year. 
The Peninsula High School Avid seniors set a record: 100% of the kids that applied to a 4-year school were accepted to at least one.
They had a record high for applications for next year’s freshman that is. 
The AVID Program is increasing the amount of tutors they are going to have next year – so the ratio will be 7 students to 1 tutor in tutorials.
This year it was about 12 tutors to 1 student. 
They also have a record high number of kids going to their overnight college trip – which is where 41 kids spend 2 days to go see  Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and University of California Santa Barbara. 

My tutoring sessions from this week!

March 15th, 2013

Here at the Study Hut we have a unique teaching method that seems to work very well. At the Study Hut we hope to empower students. Here’s what it says on our website:

“Our tutors are young, local, and experienced.  We offer one-on-one subject tutoring, SAT test prep, and a variety of other services.  Students love coming to Study Hut because it’s cool and they see results. There are many large, impersonal tutoring companies out there. Study Hut is proud to say that we’re not one of them.

Instead of using a “one-size-fits-all” method, we focus on each student’s unique learning style and teach to his or her strengths. Our tutors emphasize progress and growth for all students at all levels—no matter how unmotivated or defeated they may start out feeling.

Our highly trained tutors have all graduated from local high schools and universities. Study Hut tutors have experience teaching every subject you can think of, from elementary school through AP high school courses, we have done and seen it all.”

I am one of the tutors here at the Study Hut and proud to work for such a great company. I normally tutor elementary and middle school students and truly enjoying working with each of my students! Here’s a story about one of my personal tutoring sessions!

I tutor a little girl whose a 1st grader and together we work on her homework packet. Each week she has a different number of packets… each for a different subject including but not limited to – Math, Social Science, Literature, and English. She mostly struggles with math (subtraction)… and refers to the numbers as “big numbers” – which make her nervous. During tutoring we work on the homework packet and if she gets it done early we play Word Bingo since Bingo is her favorite game.

Some of the assignments in the packet include coloring different pictures and words – which the little girl certainly enjoys! We work on pronunciation of words, spelling words, definitions, and other fun assignments.

The little girl also has started to learn Spanish, so we work on Spanish vocabulary as well and basic phrases every week. I write the words down for her in English with the Spanish translation and she always highlights the English words with a highlighter. She studies them at home and does a great job!

Every student you tutor is different and they each work well in their own ways.

Things to Keep in Mind for the New Semester

February 5th, 2013

Finals are Over!  Some Things to Keep in Mind for the New Semester!

We here at the Hut are proud of all of our students for conquering the recent wave of finals. It was a wild week for all of us, but we made it!

While all of you students have earned the right to relax a bit, we wanted to remind you of the academic opportunities a fresh semester brings about. Remember that time you had to scramble before a final exam to land that awesome grade you wanted? With your grades resetting, now is the perfect time to make your next finals a breeze. A clean slate means you can quickly grab and hang on to that ‘A’ you want. The work at the beginning of the semester is much easier than at the end. If you keep yourself diligent with homework and early assignments, you’ll have a much easier time come finals. Just think: wouldn’t it be nice to go into your math final knowing that the grade you get on it couldn’t drop you to a ‘B’ even if you lit it on fire?

The passing of finals also offers us the opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses we had the semester before. Even if you didn’t get that grade you wanted in that tough class, you’ll be able to learn from the experience. Now, you can adjust your study habits to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

All of this is the perfect opportunity to make sure that you keep those stress levels low by the time finals pop back around. It’s about always learning, even from our shortcomings. As always, we’re here to help.

 

 

Summer Enrichment

July 18th, 2012

Summer enrichment at Study Hut Manhattan Beach is filled with active, student-centered learning activities that get the kids out of their seats and thinking outside of the box. One of my elementary school students is entering first grade at Pacific this fall. Like most six year olds, he has an attention span of less than five minutes…maybe 30 seconds…so every few minutes we change up the routine! He practices his sight words by writing on a whiteboard, stamping the words with ink and a stamp pad, and even by jumping up and down as he spells the words out loud. For math practice he goes around to the Study Hut tutors taking polls so he can work on tally marks. This not only improves his math skills, but also gives him an opportunity to practice math in an applicable setting and see its importance to everyday life. These activities also help him to develop social skills. In addition to the social math activities, he also greets the Manhattan Crew every afternoon session using appropriate eye contact and asking follow up questions. Probably the highlight of the sessions for him is his sticker chart. He earns stickers throughout our study sessions and keeps track of them on a graph. Yesterday he told me, “I like Study Hut, it’s fun here!” I told him, “Yes, Study Hut is a lot of fun because learning is fun!” He smiled and walked out the door to show off the Star Student Award he had just earned during our session. At Study Hut, the students are at the center of everything of we do.

Teaching Style

April 25th, 2012

Working at Study Hut has taught me how to implement different learning styles for different kids. With some of my students, I have very hands on approach where I am constantly checking their planners and making sure they are on top of all of their assignments. In sessions like these, I am talking for most of the time. For my students that I know are trying their best and are just coming to tutoring for the few questions that they couldn’t figure out, I take a more observational approach. I watch them as they try and solve the problem, and try to assess where they are going wrong. Recently I have seen a lot of improvement in one of my 7th graders that has required a lot of hands on attention. He began coming to Study Hut about 5 months ago, and was getting a C or below in all of his classes. We discovered that his main problem was organization. I began to push him into writing everything down in his planner including soccer practice and piano lessons. The idea is to develop these necessary habits early on so that when high school and college come along they have the tools to cope with stressful schedules. After about a month of pestering him, he finally began to write everything down, and as a result has become much more motivated. The planner gives him a sense of direction, and he feels less overwhelmed with everything he needs to do. His mood has changed dramatically from someone with very little confidence and motivation to someone that is hopeful and much more excited about school. His grades are still not as high as we both want them to be, but I’m confident that we can raise them by the end of the year.

Valerie’s First Day

April 6th, 2012

I walked into Study Hut in Manhattan Beach not knowing what to expect as a new tutor going from private in-home tutoring to this local tutoring center. What I found was a team of outgoing, energetic, friendly, and intelligent tutors who loved what they do and did it very well! This was inspiring and exciting because they instantly accepted me into their Study Hut family and made a comfortable environment with all the resources I needed to tutor my students well. I was also welcomed by the home-like setting with comfortable chairs, big tables, art on the walls, and beach-y décor. I found that all the tutors have the same strive and determination to help and see their students grow to achieve their academic goals. It is as important to us tutors that all of our students pass their classes, stay organized, and reach their maximum potential. The one student to one tutor ratio really helped me connect with my students and learn a lot about what their hobbies, likes/dislikes, learning style, and most importantly what their goals are. I met many students from schools across the Manhattan School District and found that they all enjoyed their time spent here. I can tell that they really feel comfortable here as some students reach for candy in the drawer, pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave, and chat with other tutors and students. The tutors can really relate to the students because sometimes the tutors had the same high school teachers as the students have now. It’s interesting hearing how through the years the teacher is still doing the same assignments and field trips. Study Hut really provides an amazing learning experience for their students and we love to cheer our students on as they continue to succeed.

The Importance of One-on-one Tutoring

September 12th, 2011

There is a huge difference between what a student gets out of a classroom and how a student benefits from one-on-one tutoring sessions. A school teacher has to cater his lesson to a group of students, from many different backgrounds, learning styles and interests. While our teachers do phenomenally well at one of the toughest jobs, a student that receives one-on-one tutoring, catered to their needs, makes leaps and bounds academically.

First, they can gain a tutor that relates to who they are. This is important. Many students have a difficult time studying subjects that to them, are irrelevant. Having a tutor that they can relate to helps students understand: if their tutor feels the need to know it, maybe they should know it also. A musical student? Perhaps the tutor has a music background and understands why mathematics is still important for someone in that field.

One-on-one tutoring also allows for the lesson to be catered to a student’s particular learning style. Some students are visual learners, who need charts and diagrams of the concepts to really grasp them. Others need repetition to help them retain the information. Some students benefit from more example problems and the ability to ask questions throughout the practice. One-on-one tutoring really helps a student grasp the subject in a way that is most beneficial to them.
Lastly, a tutor can really get to know their student. Who they are as a person, their interests, families and events going on in their lives, all affect their academics. We get to know their aspirations, other stresses they are dealing with and who they are outside of the classroom.

There is no substitute for a good teacher. However, the benefits of one-on-one tutoring are invaluable for a student’s academic achievement.

New Things Happening at the Hut!

September 8th, 2011

Since the opening of our Manhattan Beach facility we have strived to deliver a location where your student can receive great one on one tutoring. The Study Hut has been through many expansions and changes throughout the years. We don’t believe in keeping the same environment as time changes, we believe in being creative, growing and changing our facility in the best interest of our students. Changes have been very prominent this fall season at the study hut. The addition of our new jungle room in the upper portion of our facility is brighter and has a colorful labyrinth atmosphere. As your student walks in to the main room of the Hut they are greeted by one of our friendly managers sitting on a lifeguard tower, ready to instruct where each student should go. If it hasn’t been obvious, here at the hut we strive to create a fun and creative environment in order for our students to feel at home and welcome. An active and creative environment aids in learning capabilities and will not only change the way your student views studying, but will help incorporate a fun quality to their everyday scholastic responsibilities. To top off two room changes, our lookout room is in progress in becoming the new “Captains Quarters”. The new pirate room will certainly transform our mediocre beige walls into a flashback in time on a ship. It’s due to these changes that the Study Hut has become a wonderful asset to any local or non local student in the Los Angeles Area. Thematic rooms, creative environments and a positive attitude among our recent college graduate tutors is what make the Hut a wonderful place to be a part of. We encourage all students to come in and see what all the fuss is about. We will always strive to make your homework and difficult subjects look like a piece of cake.