Tutoring has been a particularly personal experience for me, as I started out as a struggling student myself. During high school I nearly failed my physics and math courses. But through hard work, I was able to excel at the university level, ultimately earning a B.S. with high honors in physics from the University of Maryland. I am currently a physics Ph.D. student, working on experimental particle physics. As such, I am a prime example of what it is known as a "growth mindset," which is the idea that intelligence is not fixed, but rather can be improved with persistence, as shown by the research of Prof. Carol Dweck (Stanford). Thus, as a tutor I encourage my students to challenge themselves, as struggling with difficult problems is a crucial part of the learning process.
My experience includes volunteer tutoring for the Society of Physics Students at UMD as an undergrad, a graduate TA position at the George Washington University for Astronomy I and II, a TA position at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) for Quantum Physics I and II, and a tutoring position position at the Academic Resource Center at IIT.
University of Maryland-College Park - Bachelors, Physics
Illinois Institute of Technology - Current Grad Student, Physics
What is your teaching philosophy?
First and foremost, I believe that every student has the potential to become proficient in any subject through hard work and dedication. This belief is rooted in the work of Prof. Carol Dweck (Stanford), whose research has shown that intelligence is not fixed, but rather is a dynamic trait that can be improved through perseverance. This is known as a growth mindset, and it is a frame of thought that I try to inculcate in my students, as it has also been shown that students with this mindset tend to perform better than students with a fixed mindset.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In the first session, I usually try to get a picture of where the student's understanding of the material stands, and take it from there. I do this by asking the student what his or her approach is to solving a particular problem, and to explain in their own words the main concepts. After that, I might clarify a concept, give short and concise explanations to expand their understanding, and have the student work through examples.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
By directing the student to online resources and establishing good learning routines when tackling a new subject.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
We usually accomplish this when the student sees good results, be it in grades or understanding (typically both), as a result of their effort.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I usually try to tackle the same concept through different explanations or approaches. In physics, it is particularly easy and helpful to establish connections between the math and real world examples, of which I have many!
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Usually the best approach is to ask the student what his or her approach is to solving a problem. This way I can find out precisely where the student stands, and how I can best help him or her.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Having the student work through practice problems after explanations is usually a good way to assess their understanding.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
This is typically immediately accomplished after the student has worked through sufficient practice problems by him or herself.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I have a couple books that are excellent resources for high school and freshman/sophomore level physics. In addition, there are many online resources that provide great and concise explanations and examples.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I usually try to establish real life connections with the material.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
This is easily done by providing the students with practice problems to assess their understanding, and take it from there.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
While I have good reading comprehension, this is unfortunately not my area of expertise. I would thus rather stick to tutoring for STEM courses.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I change the pace of the session according to each student's abilities. I also try to explain the material from multiple perspectives.