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Matt

I am currently attending UCR, working on my BS in pure mathematics. I tutored - effectively and clearly with plenty of positive feedback from students - at Riverside City College with Tutorial Services for 5 years. I tutored a wide range of subjects to students of variable ages between 18 and 50; this gave me experience communicating with many people, both young and older. Plenty of the people I tutored were parents; after successfully tutoring them throughout one or more math classes, they asked me to meet with their children to help them with their middle school and high school math. Some of the subjects I tutored were mathematics (arithmetic, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, college algebra, trigonometry, pre-calculus, differential calculus or calculus 1, and differential equations), deductive and inductive logic, physics (classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism), and psychology (general psych, abnormal psych, and biological psych). I tutor a few complicated courses, but I never forget the basics! I always emphasize the foundation when I tutor. By stressing the basics and not skipping any steps, I eliminate a lot of confusion that many students typically feel when they’re being tutored. Because I tutor many different subjects, I understand how to explain different topics/concepts/methods STEP BY STEP, slowly, and in a way that makes sense to the student - NOT only to myself. I worked at Tutorial Services 20 hours per week, and I also privately tutored for a further 40 or so hours per week. So, I have had plenty of practice helping people with their studies. Tutoring math courses is my specialty! So, being an efficient and effective communicator, having plenty of practice, and knowing about a wide range of subjects makes me a successful tutor. I am also very patient, knowledgeable, and easy to get along with.

If you would like to know what I am studying to get a better idea of my educational background and way of thinking:
Basic idea - I would like to use higher level mathematics to study mental disorders and diseases such as thought disorders like schizophrenia, memory disorders like Alzheimer's, mood disorders like mental depression, anxiety disorders like OCD, sleep disorders like dyssomnias and parasomnias, other types of dementia, and even physical problems associated with brain activity as in encephalopathy. So, like I mentioned above, I am currently attending UCR to receive my bachelors degree in pure mathematics; the purpose of studying pure math is for me to be able to fully understand, down to the smallest detail, how to apply numerical analysis to real life situations (like building a roller coaster or any structure, moving a space craft to a different orbit around a planet in outer space, maximizing profits or minimizing costs for a business, determining the amount of each dosage of medicine a patient needs to be treated for any given illness, understanding the behavior of photons that make up a beam of light or even just calculating the price of a pair of pants at JC Penny after a discount, etc. etc. etc.). Even though most people think pure math is all about theorems and proofs written in hieroglyphics seemingly applicable to nothing realistic or practical that will never be used later in life (except by engineers and mad scientists), it is actually a generalized system used to model and predict almost any event or pattern that will ever occur in our lives (this is shown to a small extent by the field of physics) - it just requires the patience to study it for a long enough time. Anyhow, currently I am studying math! After I receive a degree in mathematics, I would like to study computational neuroscience at UCSD (University of California San Diego). This will allow me to use my previous experience in pure mathematical theory to create a calculation-based construct of knowledge about how our brain works, and how they sometimes fail to work, by analyzing patterns that occur while we think. Ultimately, I would like to do research to help the medical field and field of psychiatry and treat mental disorders much more efficiently.

If you would like to know some of my more normal interests:
Other than focusing all my energy on academics and understanding academic fields in depth, I enjoy playing sports like basketball, tennis, and golf. I also enjoy going to the gym and staying in shape. I spend a lot of time with friends, going to movies, restaurants, and other social gatherings.

Undergraduate Degree:

 University of California-Riverside - Bachelors, Pure Mathematics

My main interests are academics. I enjoy studying complicated things like mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer programming, molecular biology, and computational neuroscience just to mention a few. I also enjoy playing games like basketball, tennis, pool, golf, and chess.

What is your teaching philosophy?

I find that knowledge is very important; the pathway to being knowledgeable is through great teaching and students being able to translate what they're being taught into understandable information. Most importantly, learning must be desired by the student. I teach with maximum confidence and minimum arrogance, along with plenty of patience, with the intent that the students will pick up the same traits. Students must feel comfortable being wrong around a tutor so that they are not nervous, and as if the tutor has been in their position. One way I help students feel comfortable is by asking them to help me think through a problem or concept slowly and step by step, as if they know it as well as I do, and once they find an answer it boosts their confidence.

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

In a first session, I would get to know the student as well as cover a few concepts the student is asking me about. Obviously, we introduce ourselves. I would talk to the student to determine multiple aspects including: their level of confidence, their background in math, their goal in the particular math class, and what motivates them academically. By the end of the session, my goal is that the student understands a few concepts perfectly, which will give them confidence, and that they are comfortable with me tutoring them.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

The key to being an independent learner is the ability to translate knowledge into something simpler and understandable. One of many ways I could help a student become an independent learner is to teach them ways to simplify information; that is, ways to remember mathematical concepts by relating the concepts to things they already know.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

By keeping the student's confidence level up, making sure they do not feel overwhelmed, and by making sure they see progress as a result of tutoring, I can keep them motivated. The key is to maximize positive thoughts regarding progress and minimize all negativity.

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

All I can do as a tutor is be patient, provide knowledge, and keep the student motivated. If the student is having difficulty learning a skill or concepts, then I would make sure we take it from the absolute beginning and follow through the work step by step. The main reason why students have trouble learning new concepts is simply because of a lack of understanding in the foundation of the idea. I always emphasize the basics. After the basics are well understood, even more complicated subjects like calculus will seem extremely simplistic.

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

Reading comprehension is based on knowing why we speak the way we do; I'm very good at helping students break down sentences (typically mathematical statements and instructions) and understand what is being asked, as well as why it would be asked at all. Many students struggle in math because of problems understanding instructions; it is a matter of taking it word by word and building up a foundation of meanings of phrases - which becomes natural over time.

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

Simply getting to know the student, being very patient, showing confidence but not arrogance, knowing their background in the subject, their goal with that subject, their academic motivation, and emphasizing foundation in the subject always prove to be successful strategies.

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

Having tutored mathematics and physics, this is a typical reality I face with every student I've ever tutored, with the exception of a couple. By building the student's confidence in the subject and making it seem as if you're working side by side, and not only telling them rules and formulas, the student will become engaged on their own; soon after, they will feel very knowledgeable, and be excited that they are learning complicated new things.

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

I would present the material with confidence, but not arrogance. I would be very patient and always emphasize the foundation or basics of the material. This allows the student to also feel good about what they know, and will help ensure that the student is not doubtful. Sometimes it is also appropriate to have a student explain the material to me, in their own words, and continue having them practice explaining information to me, as if they are the tutor (of course you want to do this without pressuring them). Lastly, I'd relate new material to older material, and provide plenty of examples - this should be a given for all educators.

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

I consider confidence to be one of the most important aspects of teaching. There are many things involved in building a student's confidence. Firstly, the student must see the tutor as a friendly person, and be able to relate to the tutor. This makes it easier for the student and tutor to work together. I usually question the material as if I'm looking at it from the perspective of the student, so that I don't come off as a know-it-all. Then I help establish a strong foundation in the material, which boosts the student's understanding. Lastly, I allow the student to try and explain material to me, and once they've explained a few problems, they gain a sense of comfort and of course confidence.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

In tutoring certain subjects, there is a progression of complexity involved, and by asking the student questions in a subtle way, I am able to analyze their foundation in the subject. This tells me where to start, and even gives me an approximation of the student's confidence level. I realize more about the student's needs based on a few factors such as how they take notes, what notes they take, when and how they ask me questions, and how often they need to meet with me.

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

I'm very good at adapting to various students regardless of age and personality type. I've tutored at a city college as well as privately, which means that I've communicated with people of many different ages - between 18 and 50 years of age. I've also tutored students under the age of 18. I adapt by listening attentively to students, and taking the time to be patient with them. I mainly observe how they work, and I conform to how they work on the subject. For example, if a student prefers one technique over another, I will conform to the way they do it, provided that their way is almost as or equally efficient.

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

During tutoring sessions, I have always used a white board and dry erase markers. This makes it easy to see the work and erase if there are any mistakes - which will happen once in a while. Of course a textbook is also necessary to reference certain concepts or formulas as well as images or illustrations. Most important though, is the student's ability to think about the subject, so I prefer to not have too many distracting materials such as highlighters and props. All it really takes is a pencil, paper, and patience.