As someone studying engineering, I find education of vital importance to our young generation. A lot of friends and colleagues of mine seem to have given up on the more vigorous courses in college-- math, physics, chemistry-- because they felt they were never properly taught it in school. I'm not going to lie: I struggled a lot with math growing up. I would sit down every night with my mom after school and we would do practice problems well through dinner and into the night. She never let me give up. She always told me that I have the potential to do well in math, and that the only real barrier was my confidence in myself. Looking back on it now, I realize she was right. It's not about throwing information at students and having them memorize it before the test. What needs to be done is there needs to be a proper foundation set for every student, just so they can get started without failing. Afterwards, they're on their own as they build up the knowledge themselves. You're just there to guide them. I love helping people with school work, because there is no reward more fulfilling than seeing someone solve a problem on their own. Their face lights up as all the little gears in their head begin whirring in sync with one another. It makes me feel accomplished knowing I made them enjoy learning something new.
Aside from my education, there's other interesting things about me. I really enjoy reading books and drawing. To me, books are a virtual escape from reality that you can take with you anywhere you go, whether it be on the train as you commute to work or cuddled up in bed before going to sleep. I love entering fictional worlds and losing myself in the story along with all the characters. Drawing provides me with a similar feeling, except I'm the one creating the world. I can make whatever I want when I hold that pencil, and all the power is in my imagination. Unfortunately with school I haven't progressed much with my artwork, but a few doodles here and there is enough to keep me satisfied.
What is your teaching philosophy?
So the way I learned best in school was by figuring out problems on my own. I liked it when teachers would give me just enough information without giving away the answer completely. My teaching philosophy is that it's necessary to provide your students with the proper base knowledge, and then allow for them to figure out the rest on their own. If for whatever reason they get stuck on one little thing, you should hint to them with clues instead of just telling them flat out how to do it. That way, they feel a sense of satisfaction after completing their work because they felt like they did it independently; they put in their own work to figure it out, and it helps them remember the information much more effectively.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The way I would proceed with a first session is by skimming over the textbook and seeing what the student is currently learning. I need to submerge myself into their world and make myself think as someone their age. It makes figuring out common mistakes they might make more effective. Afterwards, I would probably ask them for their homework syllabus to see what level of difficulty the teacher is assigning. That way, I have a toolbox for "challenge" problems that I can save for review sessions. I would also talk to my student as a friend and try to figure out what exactly is making them confused. What concepts aren't they understanding? What can I do to make them see them differently?
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As stated previously, independent learning is all about a proper foundation. As a tutor, I would provide my student with the proper "tools" they would need for solving a set of problems. If they are learning something like logarithmic functions, I would make sure they fully understand exponents before moving on to the more difficult stuff. I would pick easier problems first, just to make sure they aren't completely lost on the concept. Also, that builds up the student's confidence as they get most of the answers correct. Afterwards, I will introduce more difficult problems, let them struggle for a bit, and proceed to give them little hints that might help them figure them out. If they don't get the answer after struggling for a while, I would show them how it's done and then give them another example similar to it to make sure they practice it enough.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Encouragement is key. No matter what level math, no matter who's doing it, math is a difficult subject to comprehend. I would never go out of my way to make my students feel stupid. If they don't get an answer right, I would explain to them what their mistake is, and ensure them that it's a common mistake. Most mistakes in math are! I would also not hesitate to take breaks. Sometimes you need to just step back and breathe for a few minutes to help yourself see the information clearly. I would firmly, yet kindly remind them that they can always do better. The farther they can push themselves, the more they can achieve.