I attended college at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs for a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. It's my first step towards higher education in the field of Psychology. I had a lot of experience with mathematics prior to pursuing that degree, so even afterwards, I'm trying to stay in the scientific side of Psychology and do research. I was name-dropped by one of my professors as a good candidate to be a math tutor at my college, and I was thrilled to get that opportunity. I enjoyed helping people with their studies, but I never thought that I was actually capable of making a career of it.
So I worked with college students of all ages and backgrounds, some barely 18 and some over the age of 60. I had no idea how many people came from various countries just to attend college at my university. I really enjoyed working across a variety of topics, but I prided myself in aiding people who were still uncertain about their relationship with math. By the time students are in Calculus, they typically enjoy math altogether. It was the students who lacked confidence that I had the greatest pleasure to work with. I know with unquestioning certainty that they are capable of excelling in Mathematics and to bring out that potential was my reward.
My personal hobbies include playing the piano, hydroponic gardening, and some video game programming.
University of Colorado Colorado Springs - Bachelors, Psychology
ACT Composite: 30
ACT Math: 35
ACT Reading: 32
ACT Science: 31
AP Calculus AB: 5
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
You take it slowly, and you don't leave any room for assumptions. If a student cannot confidently explain a word's meaning, then it needs closer inspection.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I want to see where they're at. I want the student to give me some examples of where they're struggling and where they feel confident. Acquiring the profile of the student's skills should come prior to any lessons.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
At times, it is possible to make the math relevant to their own interests or field. There are common human experiences that can be pulled up as examples. It would be a far stretch to say this is always the case, and if it's not possible, I've found that looking at math as a series of puzzles rather than a rigorous academic subject can be at least a little endearing.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
After assisting a student through a problem, having them explain the steps back to you can help you identify any weak points in their understanding. You'll know where those are when you hear something along the lines of, "You just do the thing!"
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
When I am struggling through lessons with a student, I do not hide my feelings when they have made progress. My praise and excitement come forth with great vigor. You have to really get into it, like watching your favorite sports. When appropriate, some hoorah is in order.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
When it comes to evaluating a student's needs, examining their work process through a problem can yield the greatest insights. Rather than being interested in whether the problem is correct or not, the method is what should be examined.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
You absolutely cannot go wrong with a calculator, pencil, paper, textbooks, and a computer/phone. Having all these at hand (though not necessarily used) makes for a much smoother process. I also do enjoy a good white board, even if it's just a few feet in size. Something about that just feels right, like an open forum of discussion.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I firmly believe that every person is capable of becoming an expert in any topic. What stops people from achieving this is getting caught up in somebody else's thinking. A little bit of the right perspective can be a blessing.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I want to get to know my students, and then acquire a clear objective for what they want from the lessons. I want to know what they're interested in and what their history with math has been like. From there, I want to create a plan for achieving their objective. Passing a class? A good score on the GRE? In how much time? This will help me plan my future lessons to accomplish that goal.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I encourage curiosity and investigation. There is no better time to embrace those qualities than during practice. You have to embrace mistakes and understand why those mistakes didn't work out in order to become truly proficient. It's not just about what works, but why it works.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
If a student is struggling with a skill or concept, you should start troubleshooting from the beginning. "What is the concept we're working on?" "What does it accomplish?" "How does it accomplish this?" You rebuild from the ground up, reinforcing where needed.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Whether it's subject matter or tutoring technique, I should always seek feedback from the student to see if they are feeling confident in my approach. I am flexible, and if they feel a certain approach isn't working for them, I can attempt another.