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The Big Dipper (The Conscious Learner's Logo)
The Conscious Learner’s logo: the “Big Dipper” constellation, A.K.A. “Ursa Major,” and in some cultures called the “Seven Sages.” The two rightmost stars point upward to the North Star.

Academic Coaching FAQ

Who can benefit from The Conscious Learner?

I work with all learners, 16 and up: college, high school, home-school, and graduate students, and adults continuing their education.

Do you work with people who exhibit symptoms of ADHD even if they don’t have a diagnosis?

Yes. Working with learners who exhibit symptoms of attentional and impulse differences (consisting in both deficits and enhancements) requires additional skills and approaches. I have years of experience coaching and tutoring ADHD learners in ways that enable them to be successful and achieve, sometimes even surpass their learning goals. I am certified by the ADD Coach Academy as an ADHD coach.

If a learner has a diagnosed or undiagnosed but suspected learning challenge, please bring this up in the Initial Consultation.

How is The Conscious Learner different from my school’s tutoring center?

Academic support centers are a vital resource, and I encourage you to take advantage of yours.

Sometimes, though, you want to see a specialist.

Tutoring centers are like clinics. Often it’s hard to get the one-to-one attention you need during crunch times—midterms and finals—exactly when you need the most help. Also, the kinds of tutors can range from your fellow classmates (“peer tutors”) to seasoned professors, with varying degrees of tutoring skills. The art of tutoring differs in important ways from classroom teaching. In the classroom the focus is on the whole group of students, and the priority is the greatest learning for the greatest number of them. In many classrooms, especially in lectures, the paradigm of the “right answer” still prevails. There are many highly intelligent, well intentioned, deeply caring tutors in academic support centers who operate according to the instruction model: information is transmitted from the instructor to the pupil. The underlying belief in this model is: If I instruct you well, you will learn. When this works it’s a wonderful thing. Too often it doesn’t work, and hasn’t been working in the student’s classes, which is the reason the student has come to the tutoring center in the first place.

Tutoring that really helps you must take a different turn. The focus should not be on instruction, but rather on understanding—not the coach’s understanding, but the learner’s. This is a special skill set, one that I’ve honed for many years and trained many peer tutors in. As an academic coach, I provide specialized support that places you in the center and pays attention to your whole learning process, from the roots to the blossoms.

Do you take insurance?

Coaching is not covered by health insurance. However, it might be possible to use a personal insurance account (HSA, FSA, or HRA), but you would need to verify this.

Do you use a sliding scale?

I do not use a sliding scale, but it is important to me that people get the help they need. If my fee is not within your current means, please tell me during the initial consultation, and together we’ll explore options.

Will you work with the teacher(s) at my school?

With your permission, absolutely.

How do you assess what the learner’s individual needs are? Do you use standardized testing in the assessment process?

Dear Learner:

You are NOT standard.

Standardized testing, at its best, can only provide very broad “comparability in the context of the ‘big picture’ ” (B.R. Worthen & V. Spandel: “Putting the Standardized Test Debate in Perspective”). Standardized test scores only measure a person’s performance in relation to imprecise averages across large-scale student populations; all tenth graders, for example. Average scores vary from individual school to individual school, and vary much more from individual person to individual person. No standardized test is administered with the test taker’s individual learning styles, interests, or goals in mind. By definition standardization is impersonal. The essence of standardized tests—the very reason for their existence and the only reason they are useful—is to provide inflexible, one-size-fits-all measurements of student performance.

Because at The Conscious Learner I am primarily concerned with each individual learner’s unique situation and abilities, I do not administer standardized academic tests. However, if you have recent test scores, I am interested in seeing them and taking them into account as one piece of information in your own big picture.

Can you help with low motivation and procrastination?

These are two of my specialties. Low motivation and procrastination seem mysterious, and both learners and supporters are generally unaware of the causes. The conscious learning approach addresses these issues head-on.

Do you offer a guarantee?

What sets The Conscious Learner apart is my skill and experience working with all the subtleties and complexities of each individual learner’s intelligence and unique circumstances. My message to all learners is loud and clear: You are not standard. Products can be meaningfully guaranteed because they are manufactured according to strict standards: “If it’s broken, we’ll repair it, or your money back.” But a human learner is not a product.

Some learning center franchises do offer promotional guarantees, for instance that the student will improve at least one grade-level on one or more standardized tests after a certain number of hours of tutoring. What are the implications of such a guarantee? Success is measured by predetermined, broadly averaged standards: test scores, numbers. The tutoring methods will likely also be standardized. This is what a franchise is: a packaged system.

Learning is a human activity and academic coaching is a human service. Human services as a rule come with no guarantees. Education can no more be guaranteed than social work, yet both can help people flourish. At The Conscious Learner I do not offer a promotional guarantee because doing so would force me to standardize the way I teach and pigeonhole the meaning of success. Such rigidity is against all of my educational principles.

What I do guarantee is this. I guarantee that I will be by your side every step of the way. I will ensure that we work with your learning styles and your strengths. My goals will be to help you articulate and achieve your goals, help you discover more passion and engagement in your process, and help you take charge of your learning.

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