I believe any student is capable of excelling in mathematics with some help. What often discourages students about math is that they struggle with a concept, and never mastered it before their class moves on to a new concept that builds upon the previous concept. This can result in a vicious cycle, which often leads to students feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. Additionally, it is not uncommon for teachers to explain things too quickly and in only one way. Often what helps students break this cycle and succeed is seeing math problems broken down into the simplest steps and the different methods available to approach a single problem. If one method is difficult for a student to grasp, usually a different method will make more sense. This combined with reviewing concepts that students are struggling with can completely change a students ability and attitude towards math.
University of California-Riverside - Current Undergrad, Mathematics for Secondary School Teachers
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy is that everyone is capable of excelling in mathematics. It may not be everyone's favorite subject, but I believe that it only takes having concepts explained clearly and in a personalized way for each individual student.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Usually, I try to understand and find out what concepts a student is currently struggling with. Since mathematics concepts build upon previous math concepts. I also try to find out what concepts have previously given the student trouble. Understanding what a student has and is struggling with allows me to help the student in an efficient and effective way.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
There are two things that contribute to helping a student become an independent learner. The first is motivating the student to practice with math concepts they have trouble with. The second is giving the student additional resources and a road map of what to study.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
In my opinion, the best way to help a student stay motivated is to explain the importance of math and school in general. First, school will be a part of a student's life for a long time; these concepts will even follow them into college. Second, doing well in school can allow a person to do amazing things and to have a great life.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student is struggling with a particular concept, I first try to ascertain specifically which portion of the problem is giving the student trouble. Then I do a similar problem while breaking it down into the simplest possible steps. Additionally, showing a student an alternative method to solve the problem can also be very effective.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
It is important that a student asks any questions that they may have during a tutoring session. Therefore, I try to break the ice by asking the student questions about their subject and to get a student more comfortable. I also believe that telling a student how common it is for people to struggle with whatever concepts they are focusing on can also make them feel more comfortable asking questions.