Awaken Education

Our Philosophy

A Teacher's Approach

A lifelong New Yorker, founder Paisley Kang has attended some of the most competitive educational programs in New York and the U.S. She attended Hunter College High School, the Brearley School, FSSA, and MSM Precollege. After her B.A. in English Literature at Williams College, she completed her M.A. in Education at Teachers College Columbia University. She has taught in public and private schools in Massachusetts and New York City. Since she began tutoring test prep and writing in 2002, she has had a roster of over 200 students.

During her experience tutoring in New York and its surrounding areas, she realized that there was something missing in the test prep world at large: pedagogical training for tutors. As a school teacher with extensive knowledge in areas such as lesson planning, curriculum building, child development, inclusive education, cultural sensitivity, and diverse approaches to learning, she was surprised that most tutors were not familiar with most of this. To her, tutoring and teaching in a school were not vastly different, but it seemed as if most tutors were not considering the fact that they are, first and foremost, educators. With Awaken Education, she strives to serve the need for more thoughtful, individualized, and student-centered tutoring by bringing pedagogy and the art of teaching into the test prep world.

Besides Paisley's belief that closely managing tutors in pedagogy is important, our philosophy is that education should be focused, methodical, and personal. Methodical equals impactful. The tutor should zero in on any weaknesses right away and drill the difficult concepts (grammar, math, science, reading comprehension, or vocabulary) until they are internalized. Review is very important to retaining these skills, even though this is something many other tutors neglect. Each concept must be broken down into smaller units, providing scaffolding for the next topic.

Tutoring should also be extremely focused, or organized. Many tutors approach their work with students session by session without a clear vision of the learning trajectory or a final set of goals with a projected deadline, mostly because they do not have adequate training on how to approach lessons and curriculum like a teacher. Tutors should always spend time consulting with students to set concrete, actionable, reachable, and yet, ambitious goals so that they can get the most out of each session and create the maximum synergistic effort. In addition, the tutors must constantly check in to see that goals are being met and results achieved, and tailor the approach if need be. They must know how to create successive lesson plans and continue to expand pedagogical knowledge. Again, at Awaken, tutors must check in and meet with the director often so that we can offer the highest level of quality control.

Finally, personal touch is vital to effective tutoring and learning. The relationship often defines whether or not a teacher will be successful with a student. An educator's aim should not only to teach students the strategies and content knowledge they need to succeed on their tests and courses, but also to be a mentor and motivator that they can trust. With a sense of humor and heaps of empathy, a great teacher strives to make students laugh and to make the session an experience they can look forward to. An Awaken tutor must possess these qualities, in addition to extraordinary intelligence and testing ability, outstanding academic achievements, intuition, drive, organization, ambition, consistency, and very importantly: warmth. Our tutors, all of who have graduated from top-tier colleges and universities, will be your child's brainy cheerleader and guide on the path to their academic goals.