Back in 2011, my junior year of high school, my aunt went back to college only to find she had to take a class she had always hated: Algebra. I said I could help her out, math being a subject I love, and began tutoring her weekly. Helping someone go from feeling "I can't, and I hate it" to "I can, and this isn't so hard" was wonderful. I've been hooked since.
In my 6 years tutoring I've taught people at every age level learning just about anything: I helped a 5 year old write for the first time in a letter to his older sister, brought my high school neighbor's geometry grade from a C to an A, and have helped seniors just getting into the world of technology all in addition to my professional experience. After all of this my beliefs about learning have remained the same:
Anyone can learn anything. Learning doesn't have to be hard.
My job as a tutor is to make knowledge accessible, and my approach reflects that. I am always willing to find new ways to relate concepts, break things down further, and am patient. But it's not just my patience they need, it's also patience they give themselves. So throughout lessons I positively reinforce both attempts and right answers.
Michigan State University - Bachelors, Psychology
ACT Composite: 29
Elementary School Math
High School English
High School Writing
Middle School Reading
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
Tutoring is taking things you've learned and breaking them down with you until they make sense.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Finding out what subjects and hobbies a student likes is very helpful.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My sessions are always student driven.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I backtrack to information they know and build off of it.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Break it down, make it relatable, and explain it in new ways.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Rephrase what the writing says in a modern or relatable context, while still keeping the message. Then revisit the original text to draw the connections.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Find out what subjects they don't like and things they do like.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Anything is relatable. Finding people who have used a certain subject area in a cool or fun way helps students see how any knowledge can be used for any field of study.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
For most STEM classes, I typically have the student walk ME through a problem to show they understand it.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
When a student feels like they're not making progress, I break things down into as small of steps as they need to be able to understand each part along the way. Once the student understands a part (e.g. how to FOIL in solving a quadratic), we acknowledge the accomplishment.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Sometimes I start a conversation with a student and ask questions about what they already know to figure out where to start. However, I've found it most productive to simply dive into the material and let the sessions be primarily student led. Then they can dive in and simply show me what they know and how they understand it. This allows me to correct wrong thinking - if they think they're doing something correct when they are not - that wouldn't come up in my asking, and it helps them learn the way to approach problems they get stuck on in the future.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Everyone has different things they like and understand more than others. By relating the topic to things the student already understands or likes, it helps in understanding.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It depends on the age of the student and the subject.