I worked as a computer programmer for 10 years before turning to math tutoring. I love teaching math and computer science to all ages. I see patience and creativity as being the highest attributes of my teaching style.
Hardin-Simmons University - BS, Math, Computer Science
What is your teaching philosophy?
Every individual is unique in the way they learn. I believe that anything can be taught to anyone by a patient and creative teacher, which I hope to be.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Get to know something of my student's personality and interests. Find out what my student already knows about what I'm going to teach. Find ways to adjust my teaching style to who they are.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As I teach, I will inevitably need to refresh my own memory on certain topics. As this happens, I can walk the student through the process I use to relearn something.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
You need to give the student long-term and short-term goals. They need to understand how the subject they need to learn fits into the big picture of their life, and they need milestones on a frequent basis that they can use to track their own progress, like beating levels in a video game.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would find another way to explain the concept, or another way to demonstrate the skill. If I run out of ideas, I would talk to their parents, other teachers, or search the Internet for ideas. I would walk them through examples; however many examples it takes. And I would make sure to give them time to rest; it does no good after a certain point to keep beating your head against a topic. Sometimes you need to give a topic a rest for the day and sleep on it, coming back the next day with a fresh perspective.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Teach them a different way to read; a different way to focus on the words on the page. Help them find books to read that are interesting to them and cover things that they want to learn. Sometimes reading books at a lower reading level can help you gain the confidence to tackle harder books again later.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Help them to see that what you are trying to teach them is not only a good and useful thing to learn, but that it is possible for them to learn it. Give them a taste for victory.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
They need to feel like they can succeed before they can get excited. Try going back to an earlier concept in the subject - one that they did well in. Connect the subject to something they love. Slow down the pace of learning, and make sure they understand each concept really well before moving on to the next. Keep connecting what you are teaching to the end goal.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The best way to learn something is to teach it. In addition to giving them sample problems to solve, I would see if they can teach me what I just taught them.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Try to find things related to the concept under study rather than always hitting the concept directly. Build confidence around the subject like walls around a castle.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Test them on the prerequisites to a subject. Talk to them. Talk to their parents, if applicable. Build a relationship with your student. A good relationship between the teacher and student is important to overcome obstacles in the student's path.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Find new ways of explaining concepts and making the concept interactive. Model a problem on your computer, or on paper. Invent a game using the subject. Talk about how a concept is used. It's important for a teacher to not tie themselves down to a single way of explaining something.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Pencils, papers, lots of erasers, laptops, and large whiteboards or chalk boards if available. Colored pencils or markers, too.