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Zain A.
Teacher, writer, & musician
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Web Development
TutorMe
Question:

How is web development one of your core teaching specialties despite not having any place in your professional expertise?

Zain A.
Answer:

In my youth I encountered quite a bit of success as an independent web developer. I have been fascinated with programming since middle school and have not only built websites for friends and family, but also coded APIs that process food transactions for the Ordr.in start-up and generate medical calculations for MDCalc.com. In recent years I have realized coding is not my primary love though—teaching and artistic expression are. I think students may be excited to work with a teacher who deals not only with writing or coding, but also art. I'm thrilled at the prospect of teaching it all with students on TutorMe.

SAT
TutorMe
Question:

How do you design a curriculum for a student who only has a month or less for a comprehensive study of everything on the SAT?

Zain A.
Answer:

Having worked with both young and old, my aims are always to establish a framework that will first and foremost build up the confidence and momentum students need before delving into specific subjects, whether it be English or geometry. Alongside my work as a writer and composer, I am dedicated to tutoring as a means of helping students realize their own potential; this is my ultimate goal, far more important than just reviewing any particular subject or test. I have developed personalized curricula for each of my students based on conversations I have with them and their parents. I have done this in a variety of subjects like APs, college essay writing, and standardized tests. My teaching philosophy revolves around the idea that my success as a tutor depends on my ability to address particular students, based on their background, behavior, and aspirations. As a result, my philosophy translates into a teaching style that draws heavily on stories, analogies, and real-life experiences tailored for the student. Particularly when there is not a huge amount of time remaining for a student to prepare for a standardized test like the SAT, it is more important that together we work to understand how the test works structurally to build strategies that that address the whole test. No one can learn all of the subject matter tested on the SAT in one month. But it is entirely possible to develop techniques fine-tuned for individual students and their specific needs in order to tackle the test as a whole.

College Admissions
TutorMe
Question:

Respond to the following quote: “Assume that man is fundamentally good, and you abandon satire in favor of education.”

Zain A.
Answer:

Despite (or perhaps because of) growing up as a Pakistani Muslim in the South after 9/11, I have tried hard to remain steadfast in my assumption of people’s fundamental goodness. To essentialize the conservatives I grew up with as greedy and hateful falls into the same dynamic that we minorities complain about, of white supremacy directed against us through racism and xenophobia. Cosmopolitan societies prove that bridges can be built across difference, because some similarities inhere in all of us as humans: the desire to love, feel safe, leave the world a better place. Satire that is sensitive to both the specificities of human experience and the fraught act of translation into creative expression can serve educational ends. The best satire can effect laughter in even the satirized when they sense honesty and laughter that is with them rather than at them. And this two-way dynamic points to what I learned in my experience as an arts teacher in Queens, New York City: education must be seen as a collaborative and creative process engaging students as individuals with an inherent goodness and value of their own, not vessels to fill with facts and data for regurgitation on standardized testing. De-centering teachers as masters will enrich their own capacity to learn with their students. Satire that seeks less to make fun of a specific group and more to speak of the greater human condition comes closer to not only conveying humor that is artistic and ageless, but also to a greater educational role that cuts across cultures. In the same way even my most disruptive students became committed participants once treated as intellectual equals, so too can we speak to those often most opposed to us by shifting from pointed satire to education as a two-way process.

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