This month we are talking with another great tutor, John Christiansen
John grew up in Hollis, New Hampshire, a small town about 45 minutes north of Boston. So yes, you can assume he is an insufferable Patriots fan. Having lived through the dark times when he was a kid, he is now basking in the past 20 years. “It will end soon, I know this, and retribution from my students will be merciless.”
John earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Grinnell College in 1998 and a Master’s in Mathematics from Wesleyan University in 2005. For almost fifteen years he and his wife, Laura, taught at boarding schools in New England. During that time, he was a dorm head, a head baseball coach, assistant football coach, among a myriad of other responsibilities.
Currently, he is the Director of Scheduling, Dean of Students for the 11th and 12th grades, and Upper School math teacher at Cincinnati Country Day School.
How long have you been tutoring with Connections?
This is my first year with Connections.
What's your favorite thing about tutoring?
The “click” moments. Tutoring is not about content delivery; it is about the establishment of trust. Students are seeking you out because they are having real struggles and that is not comfortable for them. At the start they are almost always hopeful, but in the back of their minds they are usually asking, “how is this arbitrary stranger going to be able to help me?” The “click” moments are the times when a student you are working with finally understands something. Not just the mechanics they are doing, but why they are doing those mechanics. My goal is to help students have more and more of those moments so that they can use them to grow. I want them to be able to analyze what they have done differently to master the material and apply those new skills going forward. I also want to build up a history of success so when new material is presented and they feel overwhelmed, they can rely on all the successes they have had in the past and know they can and will master this topic as well.
What is the best book you've read in the last year?
This one is so easy. This year I have been reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to my children. I love fantasy books and getting to share these with my kids has been excellent. A fun side benefit is that I let them watch the movies after the books, and they are both talking to the TV (just like their mom does) saying things like, “That is not even anywhere in the book!!!!” It just makes me smile.
How would you spend a free Saturday afternoon?
This has to be a two-part answer: with and without kids. With my kids, we would go for a hike in the nature center or get on the bike trail up to Loveland. If I was by myself, I would put 50 – 70 miles on my bicycle, stopping for refreshments as needed in the different towns along the way.
You just won an all expenses paid vacation! Where are you going?
If it is just me, I am putting it off for a year and training like mad to go to France. There is this small group that allows qualified cyclists (hence the need to train) to ride the official Tour de France route the day before the race. Basically, you are riding all the stages for three weeks that the tour teams are riding, just the day before as the close and clean the course. I would love to do some of the historic climbs. If it was me and my family, we would head to New Zealand for 7-8 weeks (we do get summers off after all) and just explore and say “yes, and…….” to every crazy suggestion.
Thank you, John! We love having you on the Connections team!
Written by Joy Becker, Mentoring Coordinator.