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John

Upon returning to college as a non-traditional student, I spent a good deal of time as the one being tutored. I know what it is like to struggle with algebra. It did not come intuitively to me. It would be fair to say that I "hated math." I truly understand how it feels to want to give up. However, I feel that many of us build up these mental walls about math due to too much "how," and not enough "why" in the classroom.

One day, during my third attempt at MATH1111, I had an "epiphany moment" about functions and algebraic expressions that had eluded me during my first two attempts. Transforming from a student filled with hopelessness and resistance towards math, I completed my College Algebra course and ultimately tackled Trigonometry (pre-calculus), Calculus 1, Calculus 2, and Discrete Mathematics. I believe that my own insights into certain behaviors about mathematics, combined with instructor's curriculum, can help students realize the concept and strengthen their own problem-solving moxie.

In addition to my passion for helping others understand math, I have a knack for essay writing. It has been my observation that one of the most common oversights student writers tend to make is not taking the time to understand the topic before diving in. I also enjoy helping students improve their ability to be more expressive and stylistic in their writing.

I live by the mantra "Give someone a fish and you'll feed them for a day -- but teach someone how to fish and they will never go hungry."

Undergraduate Degree:

 University of North Georgia - Bachelors, Computer Science

Learning, Math, Minecraft, Music, Gaming, Arduino UNO, Writing small pieces of code, Unity Game Engine, Modding Games, Science Fiction books (Asimov, Sagan)

What is your teaching philosophy?

As someone who has personally struggled with some of the common emotional hurdles many have about mathematics -- I feel I have a unique ability to help others to understand some of the more elusive concepts in a way that the modern learner may resonate with more than the traditional style of instruction found in classrooms.

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

The first thing I like to do is to find out what the student hates the most about the subject -- and then spend the time to teach them exactly that. It's almost always true that the reason they hate it is that they actually want to understand it -- but that haven't been taught in the way that is right for THEM!

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

A favorite quote of mine from a college professor is "Everything changed for me when I started reading for myself.". When I first heard this it turned "learning" around on its head. It's not the curriculum that you are required to learn that matters the most. If you start to learn about subjects that you are innately drawn to, you begin to build up the "learning" parts of your brain. Then, you can turn to your schoolwork and learn "un-fun" things with greater ease.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

As someone who "didn't get it right the first time", I can provide countless real-life examples of why it is important to succeed academically. It is important to put scholastic topics into context with the real world.

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

The important thing in learning is not "hitting your head against the wall" trying to learn a concept a certain way. If a certain approach to an elusive concept does not resonate with a learner, after giving it a genuine effort, then it is likely that that approach never will be the one that the learner will end up using. I like to have several, very different approaches to concepts. If a student doesn't like factoring radicals by breaking them down entirely, I might suggest they break them down into "obvious" squares, instead. If I do not know alternatives, I always enjoy expanding my own skill set by researching approaches created by other tutors and teachers and then trying that method out with my students.

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

One of the biggest hurdles students face with reading comprehension is that they are often BORED OUT OF THEIR MINDS with the material. Let's be honest that in today's world of rapid firing memes, endless hours of video game commentary uploads and all of the other forms of distraction -- that reading a passage about the migration habits of a species of animal or about how sedimentary rock is formed, is relatively boring to young learners. One of the methods I like to employ is to tell the student to pretend to be over-zealously interested in what they are reading about. "Wow! The migration patterns of such-and-such animal! Gee! Let's find out all about this!!!". As silly as it sounds, this method can really work to bring out the relevant information from the passage. As you excitedly read the passage, the student can give each sentence 1-5 "points" for how important they are to the main topic. Making the reading more quantitative and game-like in nature can help students to extract the concepts in a deeper way than just struggling through it en masse.