I am a passionate about both mathematics and education. Math is like a puzzle that shows us a beautiful image, but only if we're looking at the right angle, but a garbled mess of confusion if we're not. I love finding that vision with math problems and helping others to see it, as well. I often play around with math problems in my spare time, looking for new ways to solve them and new ways to interpret what I'm looking at so that I may expand the ways I can teach it to others. In the years I've been tutoring, I've learned that every person has their own learning style that differs from the next in at least some small way. Finding these different styles and mastering the skills needed to teach people in those various styles has been a wonderful journey. I am currently on a break from my own education while I wait to achieve residency in Colorado, but plan to return to school as soon as I can to obtain my degree in Mathematics and pursue a career in teaching.
University of Nevada, Reno - Current Undergrad, Secondary Education
10th Grade Math
11th Grade Math
12th Grade Math
6th Grade Math
7th Grade Math
8th Grade Math
9th Grade Math
ACCUPLACER College-Level Math Prep
Elementary School Math
What is your teaching philosophy?
The most important question in all of education is "Why?” To truly learn, we must always be asking this question. Why do things work the way they do? Why do we do the things we do? As an educator, it is imperative that we demonstrate this and as students, it is imperative that we ask it. We solve problems in math in a way that teaches us skills we will use every day of our lives, no matter what career we go into later on in life because math teaches us something deeper than just factoring polynomials or multiplying decimals. It teaches us to take a complex idea and break it down so that it can be analyzed and improved. Truly learning the subject shows us its value while simply memorizing facts diminishes it.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Regardless of skill levels of the student and educator, trust and comfort are absolutely crucial for learning to happen. We often must solve problems until we've mastered them before we can fully understand the purpose behind this task, meaning the student must trust that the purpose does exist. Without comfort, tension builds and blocks the learning process from occurring. Because of these facts, the first session often involves a bit more explanation into why we do the things we do in the subject and some of the deeper ideas behind the subject and its use. This builds the student's trust in my expertise in the subject and the learning process.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By taking time during sessions to focus on the basic concepts of the subject, I help students build a foundation so they can begin teaching themselves. In school, we often learn various skills, but there's little focus on how to actually learn. Logical foundations in a subject matter and the skills to teach ourselves are imperative in both assisted and independent learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
It's important for students to have a reason for learning what they are learning. My favorite questions from students are the "Why"s. Math, for example, teaches us a mindset that helps us every day of our lives, no matter what career or lifestyle we choose. Sure, the average job doesn't require us to factor trinomials, but being able to see a complex idea and break it down to the smaller ones makes for better problem solvers and more independent thinkers. Math builds this skill.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Oftentimes, students struggling in a class aren't so much having trouble with the current material, but are lacking a skill needed from previous classes or chapters. Taking a step back and seeing how to solve the problem from the ground up, using logical processes, rather than memorized ones, can often help find the weakest points in the student's skills. Building these skills will help them tackle their current assignments much more easily and confidently.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This really depends on where the difficulty is coming from. If there is a language barrier, it is often best to have them study up more on translations, as well as read more materials in the language they're struggling with. If it is more of an attention span issue, it might be best to focus on exercises that improve their ability to focus. There are many sources of reading comprehension issues and solving them requires diagnosing a cause, and then focusing on ways to address that cause.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
It is important when first working with a new student to establish trust with the student. Building up a student's confidence requires that they trust their educator to be able to help them improve their skills and understanding well enough to face their coming challenges, but it is also important to see where their current challenges are leading. A lack of trust can make it very difficult to give a student direction and the confidence to keep moving forward.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Confidence is key to motivation. If a student is convinced that a subject will always be a struggle, they are far less likely to become motivated and interested in it. Finding the right difficulty level to challenge them, but not so difficult that it damages their confidence, is key, as well as helping them to overcome weaknesses in past skills that make their current work harder.