I first started tutoring in my first year at North Central College through a program called EDGE Structured Study. Later, I became a teacher's assistant for the physics department at the college and helped physics students with labs and homework. With these two jobs, I am able to assist many students at my college in math and physics. After a year of tutoring other students I began to notice that my knowledge on the topics had increased substantially and therefore my skills as a tutor increased even more. It is well known that the best way to know if you understand a topic is if you are able to explain it to others. Tutoring has allowed me to better understand my own topics and has given me the ability to teach them in several ways.
Beyond tutoring, I also enjoy video games, Ultimate Frisbee, Soccer, Martial Arts, playing piano, and riding my bike around town and through trails. Having many interests is very helpful in college because it allows you to escape when you need to and come back to a problem or assignment with a more cleared mind.
North Central College - Bachelors, Physics
What is your teaching philosophy?
In teaching there are two main steps to ensure a topic is grasped by a student. First, of course, is teaching. The best way for a student to learn is by doing. In math and physics, this is done by doing example problems after learning the material. Second is assessment. The best type of assessment is to determine whether the student is able to explain a concept back. If these two steps are accomplished, it is almost guaranteed the student has learned the material.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
The first session with a student is the most important. This is the time to learn what the student knows and what his or her strengths and weaknesses are. The first session is the foundation for which to build the academic success of a student.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A student who can not only read the textbook, but also grasp the concepts and understand the subtleties of the text is one who can learn by him/herself. If I am able to successfully teach a student how to read a textbook of math or physics in this way, that student can be supremely successful by him/herself.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation is typically lost due to three reasons: A feeling that what one is doing is not worth the time, a lack of self-confidence, and/or stress. If these things can be eliminated or at least minimized, a student should stay motivated to accomplish necessary tasks for success.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Take the problem a step backwards until the fundamental problem or misunderstanding is discovered. From there we can clarify what we need to and build the solution upon a more solid foundation.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
In math or physics, reading problems have key information that one needs to learn to extract. I would tutor a student in finding these key words or concepts in a problem in order to set up the workings of a problem. From there it goes from a word problem to a purely mathematics problem.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know the student’s strengths and weaknesses is the most important step in understanding how I can help that student. Therefore, understanding those strengths and weaknesses takes priority and should be understood within the first day.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Students normally get engaged with a subject when it becomes easier and more understandable to them. The key to that is showing some applications to these problems or similar problems and how they work in the real world.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
If the student can teach the key concept or material back to me flawlessly, the student understands the material. The best way to know if you've mastered something is to teach it back to someone.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence building happens when a student begins to realize that he/she can do problems successfully. Especially those problems that look difficult at first, but after taking the problem apart and building a solution, is easy and understandable for the student.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Previous assessments are a good way to evaluate the student's needs. Typically, the source of misunderstanding comes down to a select few poorly understood concepts. Therefore, the understanding of fundamental concepts in math and physics will show the needs of a student.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
My tutoring style focuses on the student’s weaknesses, and making them into strengths by practicing those problems. In scenarios with test-taking (like the AP exams), I like to take a more well-rounded approach and relate as much of the course as possible to the problems the student will be solving. This approach may use the student’s strengths in solving problems quicker or working around weaknesses.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
In tutoring sessions from previous experience, I have often used blank sheets of printer paper and a pencil. However, when I have had a classroom available to me, I prefer using a big whiteboard/chalkboard.