Learning Coach Gabriela Grosshans, inspired by neuroscience, pancakes
As a Yellow Parachute Learning Coach, Gabriela tutors math, science, and Spanish, including ACT, SAT subject tests, and IB and AP levels. Her passion, animation, and dedication to her students embody Yellow Parachute’s model of holistic tutoring.
Coaches like Gabriela are what make Yellow Parachute more than just a tutoring company. As part of a new series spotlighting our Learning Coaches, we got to sit down with Gabriela to hear about her inspiration and teaching strategies.
Plenty of students carry a lot of anxiety and pain when it comes to science and math. Maybe they fell behind early on and never caught up. Maybe they internalized the message that they were no good at math, that they just didn’t get it and never would. All too often, math and science can seem like foreign languages to students who don’t immediately grasp their logic. They freeze up and shut down. Their grades and self-esteem suffer.
When Gabriela meets a student who is anxious about STEM subjects, she approaches the student, and their anxiety, with patience and compassion. She tries to understand where the anxiety originated, and when it started. Then, instead of teaching a set of rigid steps to memorize and follow, she introduces students to learning strategies that will help them navigate math and science. She helps them learn to break each question or piece of information into parts and recognize what the question is actually asking. “Then they are able to successfully process the concept they are learning, which is then stored in long-term memory.”
Gabriela’s approach is informed by a theoretical neuroscience course she took as an undergrad at the University of Minnesota in which she learned about the mechanisms of long-term memory storage. She’s passionate about finding new ways to explain concepts to help students learn not just the rules, but the logic behind them. She loves watching the “ah-ha” moment when students suddenly grasp a new concept.
Gabriela attributes her academic success to an unusual source: making pancakes with her mother. She remembers a frustrating morning—after failing to flip ten pancakes, her mother would not let her off the hook. “Because she did not give up on me and had faith that I would be able to flip pancakes, I was able to flip the pancake on my fifteenth try.” The experience taught her patience, with herself and others, and grit.
She carries that same resilience into her work with her students. And as her mother did for her, she keeps faith with the efforts of her students, remembering that sometimes it takes fourteen failed pancakes flips to achieve that fifteenth beautiful flip. She loves working as a Learning Coach because it allows her to individualize a learning plan for each student, rather than trying to make a standardized curriculum fit the diverse needs of unique learners. She’s seen first-hand the success of this method: recently, a Geometry student she coached was able to raise his grade from a D- to a B+, “because I was able to individualize a learning plan based off of that student’s needs!”
“I am actually fulfilling my dream job,” says Gabriela.
Gabriela tutors ACT math and science, math for grades 6-12 (including AP Calculus AB and BC, IB Math and the Math 1 and Math 2 SAT Subject Tests), as well as all levels of college math. She also tutors Spanish through AP/IB levels. To pair your child with Gabriela or one of our other qualified and passionate Learning Coaches, contact us.