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Brian

I have a diverse work background in biology and natural resources, from fighting wildfires to working as a research technician in a Pharmacology lab to wildlife management. I enjoy learning about and teaching all the sciences (including math); I also like music, exercise, and almost anything outdoors. I believe the most important skills to pass on to students are confidence in themselves, and the ability to think critically while solving problems on their own. My tutoring is entirely built around those two principles.

I have 2 semesters’ worth of teaching at the college level as well as extensive experience in one-on-one and group tutoring scenarios. I taught a total of 3 sections of College Algebra (MATH 101) at the University of Kansas to undergraduate students in the 2012-13 academic year as an employee of the Kansas Algebra Program; I was responsible for curriculum development, lecture and group work during class time, assigning and grading homework, developing a policy on late work and other behavioral expectations, maintaining office hours, and prompt and professional communication with students via e-mail and private meetings outside of class time. Other responsibilities of this employment include staffing a tutoring room where students from College Algebra or Intermediate Mathematics classes (my students and others) could sit down for tutoring as individuals or study groups, proctoring and grading class exams, and attendance of staff meetings on a weekly basis. I feel that this appointment has given me many tools as a tutor, instructor, and even as a learner myself.

My applied experience tutoring and leading classes at a variety of levels combined with my knowledge of student learning styles and pedagogy make me an excellent candidate for tutoring assignments. I have the experience, knowledge, confidence, and patience to manage the needs of a wide variety of students in many fields of both mathematics and the natural sciences. As an undergraduate at a liberal arts University I gained proficiency in a wide variety of subjects including: organismal biology, molecular biology and microbiology, cell structure and function, anatomy and physiology, ecology and evolutionary biology, physics, organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, algebra, calculus, and statistics. I truly enjoy helping students become better learners, in the classroom and for the rest of their lives. I am going back to school in the Fall (2015) to finish a teaching certificate so that I can become a secondary science teacher.

Undergraduate Degree:

 University of Kansas - BS, Biology

Spending time with my family, running, playing guitar, exploring the outdoors, reading, and much more.

Anatomy & Physiology

Applied Mathematics

Cell Biology

College Biology

Developmental Biology

Evolution

Evolutionary Biology

General Biology

High School Biology

High School Chemistry

Intermediate Algebra

College Math

Life Sciences

Middle School Science

Molecular Biology

Molecular Genetics

Neuroscience

Plant Biology

What is your teaching philosophy?

Empowering students to form and answer their own questions; helping students to create context instead of just memorizing seemingly random facts.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

Get to know their learning style, whether they are most comfortable learning by hearing, seeing, or even doing. From there, I can create a custom learning plan to help students on their terms.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Many students who have difficulty in a class are not lacking in their knowledge, but they simply don't have the confidence in themselves to succeed in that subject or class. For example, consider students who describes themselves as "not a math person". These students need individual attention and a customized structure to gain in confidence and learn how talented they actually are.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Take frequent breaks, not even on an hourly basis (although that helps), but even whole days or weekends away from homework and studies when possible. This enables a student to come back refreshed and ready to continue with their coursework.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I feel that, in situations like this, it's important to be able to take a step back and find new perspective. I like to ask myself "how would I teach this material to someone, if I didn't know how to teach this material?" This question leads me towards a more intuitive, "common sense" approach that can reach students in different ways.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

Many students have all the tools they need to accurately read and assess information, yet don't know how to use them effectively. Starting them with very structured questions on their reading (e.g. who, what, when, where) and progressively increasing the complexity as they gain more confidence can make a huge difference in all school subjects. Reading comprehension skills are invaluable for everyone.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

When starting with a new student, I like to talk as little as possible and listen to what they have to say, get to know them a little as a student, and tease out information about their learning style. Oftentimes, a student may not know exactly how they learn best; this creates a serious challenge for an educator. This challenge can be overcome by initially letting the student do the communicating and meeting them at the level where they are most comfortable.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

Real-world relevance is key; students who establish a connection between their school subjects and the world around them will be more engaged with school. Types of instruction that can establish that relevance, such as problem-based instruction, are essential.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

Periodic assessment, both by the educator and the student. Students should be able to map their own progress as well as strengths and weaknesses. Instructors should have various forms of formal and informal assessment ready to assess how things are going, areas that need more work, etc.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

It is certainly true that 10 different students will need 10 different approaches from an educator. To meet these individuals where they are most comfortable and able to learn requires training, practice, and flexibility. Some people learn best by hearing things; some have to get moving to learn, and still others are visually oriented. This information must be obtained from the students themselves, either by asking them or just observing how they tend to relate things subconsciously.