I am currently in my last semester at Wheaton College in Norton, MA and will be graduating in May with a BA in Mathematics, Secondary Education, and Hispanic Studies. I am conversationally proficient in Spanish as well. When I graduate in May I will be officially licensed to teach secondary mathematics. I am student teaching Statistics and Algebra 2 at Boston Latin School this spring and job searching for full time teaching positions for the academic year beginning August 2016.
I have extensive tutoring experience in mathematics. My experience varies from working with struggling underprivileged students to one on one tutoring including middle, high school and college students. Although my formal tutoring experience encompasses high school and college age students I have had a significant amount of experience with younger children; thus, I believe I would have no problem tutoring them as well. Through my vast experience I have learned the benefits of working individually with students. Working one on one allows me to tailor my instructions to the individual student based on his or her learning style and specific areas of difficulty. During individual instruction I ask the student questions and encourage him/her to re-explain material in an effort to ensure that the student understands the material by metacognition. This also allows me to identify what the student is struggling with and/or what misconceptions s/he may have as the source of difficulty with the material. During individual tutoring sessions I can also tailor my explanations to the interests of the student. This will help the student to be more interested and invested in the material, subsequently, helping him/her learn more effectively and efficiently. I also strive to add real world applications to all mathematical problems. Real world applications encourage students by reinforcing how critical mathematical skills are for everyday life and in their pursuit of future careers.
When I am not teaching or studying mathematics I love to be active. My main hobbies include skiing and running. I have always been a very active person and love to spend the day outside. At the end of the day I love to lounge on the couch and watch a movie. Overall, I am a very energetic and hard working person.
Wheaton College (Massachusetts) - Current Undergrad, Mathematics, Secondary Education, & Hispanic Studies
What is your teaching philosophy?
I have always wanted to be a teacher; however, eventually my focus narrowed to high school mathematics. I love mathematics because of the power and control it gives us. Mathematics is not subjective. In other subjects your results can vary depending on your audience, but mathematics does not. Therefore, if you are able to reach the answer you have a great sense of achievement. Although there are often multiple ways to solve a problem, mathematics is accessible to all individuals because of the many set formulas. A student can reach the correct answer just by following an algorithm or through individual creativity, solving in his/her unique way. However, as long as he/she reaches the final answer he/she is correct. Thus, mathematics is truly assessable to all students. I think that one of the main leaning objectives of a mathematics teacher should be to connect, through active student engagement, course material with real world applications as much as possible. One of the biggest challenges in mathematics is to motivate students. Engaging with mathematics tends to cause a great deal of frustration in students often leading them to shut down and give up. As a dedicated mathematics teacher I will help students learn to persevere when they become frustrated. Real world applications encourage students by reinforcing how critical mathematical skills are for everyday life and in their pursuit of future careers. This goes well beyond simply passing various mathematical tests. I want to create a classroom climate whereby students are genuinely excited about the material. Adding real world applications allows them to visualize how they can actually use their mathematic skills in all their future endeavors. As a future mathematics teacher I believe it is essential to create lessons that are hands on, critical in active student engagement. Mathematics allows students to discover formulas and properties through active versus passive learning. Rather than simply lecturing, I strive to create lessons with activities that allow the students to perform calculations and come to their own conclusions. Self-paced activities allow students to discover trends or patterns enhancing individual learning. In this way students become more self-directed and responsible for their own learning given through their unique learning styles. A hands-on approach reinforces learning and should lead to longer, more consistent retention of the material while developing critical thinking skills and building confidence in their abilities. With heightened confidence, students will approach new problems as challenges versus obstacles continuously building upon their previous mathematical knowledge. Lastly, I believe that it is imperative that teachers build a connection with all their students. If my students believe I truly care about them as individuals, and not simply recipients of grades, they will be more inclined to believe in themselves. Students must believe in their ability to learn and apply mathematics, and all too often the majority of students come to class lacking in mathematical interest, curiosity, or confidence creating huge obstacles to developing mathematical proficiency. I will foster relationships with my students that make them excited to come to class and ensure a safe classroom environment where they can freely ask questions and explore how a deeper understanding of mathematics can enhance their lives.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In my first tutoring session with a student I would try to get a sense of what his or her interests are. This will allow me to tailor future lessons around their interests. I would then want to know where they are struggling mathematically and what they would like to work on. It is important for me to know what the student's goals are for our tutoring sessions so we can work together to achieve them.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In order to help a student become an independent learner we would work on strategies for finding ways to help himself or herself when he or she gets stuck on a problem. My main suggestion would be to dissect the problem by identifying crucial information and stating exactly what we are looking for. Another strategy is to look for previous examples either from class notes or the textbooks that would demonstrate the steps that they need to follow to solve the problem.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Mathematical word problems can be very difficult for many students. I find the best way to approach them is to read the problem at least twice before even beginning to try to solve it. Then I recommend that students underline important information and list what information they have and what they are looking for. This helps students identify what is important, while disregarding the extraneous information within the problem.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
After learning the student's interests I will be able to tailor my examples and instructions around them. Having real world scenarios that correlate with a student's hobbies or future career will help that student be more motivated to learn the material.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would continue to work with that skill or concept until that student becomes confident with it. I would try to explain the concept of skill in various ways to help the student better understand it. If the student becomes very frustrated I will recommend taking a break and working with another skill or concept. We will eventually return to the original one; however, when a student becomes very frustrated it becomes counterproductive.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The first thing I ask students to do is to identify exactly what the problem is asking. Once we have identified what our answer should look like, we can begin brainstorming how to solve the problem. I try to use visuals or physical objects to help the student better comprehend the problem whenever possible. Then we will go through the problem step by step. This allows student to replicate our method on later problems and also helps me to see exactly when a student becomes confused.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would help a student become excited/ engaged with a subject that they are struggling in by relating it to current events and the student's hobbies or goals. If a student becomes interested in what they are learning and sees the application for it in their lives they will be eager to learn more.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Once we successfully complete a problem together I will have the student try one on his or her own. I will ask him or her to solve it step by step and explain to me exactly what they are doing in each step. Having a student re-explain the material allows me to see how well he or she truly understands it, as well as if they will be able to solve the problems independently from now on.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I will provide a lot of encouragement to my students. Even if a student does not get the entire problem correct, I will praise them for what they did correctly. When they see me continue to believe in them it will help them eventually believe in themselves.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I will begin by asking what their goals are for our tutoring session. I will start addressing these goals and, while working with the student, I will be able to identify the student's other needs. These needs may be conceptual or simply motivational.