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Mark

I love helping students achieve their educational goals because a great education is the gateway to almost every great opportunity: social, financial, and personal.

Working with students is my passion. I am (6th - 12th grade) certified to teach Math, English, and Social studies in my beautiful state of Colorado. I have experience as a middle school math teacher and tutor. I received my bachelor's degree in social science education with a minor in computer science from Brigham Young University. I later received my Juris Doctor, magna cum laude, from the Florida State University College of Law.

I tutor middle school and high school math as well as GRE and ACT test prep. Math is my favorite subject to tutor (especially Algebra and Geometry) but I'm also excellent at vocabulary and grammar.

My teaching philosophy, especially in math, is to first ensure that a student has a solid foundation. So many mathematical concepts are built on the basics such as number lines, order of operations, operation properties, and algebraic thinking. I love building math concepts from pictures and applications to the real world.

Undergraduate Degree:

 Brigham Young University-Provo - Bachelors, Social Science Education

Graduate Degree:

 Florida State University - Masters, Law

ACT Composite: 32

ACT Math: 33

ACT Reading: 36

ACT Science: 32

GRE Quantitative: 166

GRE Verbal: 169

Outside of teaching and tutoring, I love singing karaoke and performing in community musical theatre. I also love cooking and hiking in the beautiful Colorado mountains.

What is your teaching philosophy?

Focus on the fundamentals. In math, this would be things like number lines, place value, operation properties, and order of operations. These come up over and over and over again. Also develop great English to math and math to English translation: be able to say or write what math symbols mean in English and what English words become in math symbols. Finally, have fun and tell stories with math.

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

There must be some time for solid introductions. Getting to know a bit about the student's life and sharing a bit about my own will greatly enhance our ability to teach and learn in the future. Additionally, I need to know where the student is now and what his or her goals are. This will give us both a starting place, a direction, and a destination.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Independent learning happens when a student feels either (1) curious or (2) that such learning will help him or her in life. So, to help a student, I focus on what drives the student in terms of goals or curiosities. And on a weekly basis I ask, "what are you goals in life and why?" Also, "what is interesting you right now?"

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Motivation is built though both accomplishments and goals. Accomplishing things helps a student feel powerful and like the work is paying off. Goals give a sense of direction and destination. So, I make sure that the student is growing and succeeding, at least a little bit. This involves meeting a student where he or she is now and then improving. It's not about competing with others; it's about improvement. Goals then become personal. And reaching those goals become steps of incremental improvement.

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

Go back to basic principles. Find what they *do* understand and then build back to the new material from there. Sometimes this must be done multiple times, but I tell the student that that's okay; building a solid foundation and willingness to make mistakes and learn from them.

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

First, I must figure out whether the struggle comes from poor vocabulary, poor reading practice, or a learning disability. But regardless, I'd coach the student in spending time every day reading something he or she is passionate about.

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

This is how I begin: I get to know each student and I make sure that they know about me. It builds trust. I stay patient with students. I don't care how advanced or capable they are; I care to know *where* they are. I figure out what they *do* know and build from there.

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

I try to make things either funny or relevant to the student. For example, sometimes math word problems take on a new hilarious life if you change the units from boring apples to squirrels, or dragon eggs, or old moldy potatoes. I try to apply the content to the student's interests.

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

Little quizzes. But, I don't like to call them "quizzes," because that word can sound a bit scary. Rather, I say, "Let's see what your brain can do now" or, "Let's see if you can rock this one on your own." The only way you can tell if a student understands the material is if that student can perform the material on their own.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

By beginning with (and returning to) where the student is. Students feel successful when they can do the work. Interleaving material that plays to their strengths with work that furthers their skills will build a student's overall confidence. For example, prepare students for proportions or probabilities by building on their knowledge of fractions. Or, prepare students for trigonometry by building on their skills with basic Euclidean triangles.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

First I start with their goals. Want to rock the ACT? The GRE? Pass Trig with at least a B+? What are the goals? Then I'd assess where they are based on those goals. Practices tests that prepare for the goal are a good initial evaluation.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

First, I try to determine the student's needs. I figure out her strong areas and her weak ones. I spend the time and go back as far as I need to on those weak areas. Also, I try to apply any new skill to the student's life, interests, or goals.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

My electronic drawing tablet. My calculator. Paper and pen. A starter problem. An exit ticket. Online resources are always a great take-away, too.