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Zach

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I graduated from the University of Arizona in 2010 with two Bachelor of Science degrees, majoring in Engineering Physics, Applied Mathematics and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I currently tutor math from middle school Algebra up through Calculus I, Physics, Biology and Ecology. I started tutoring after completing a class covering various tutoring strategies and methodologies my sophomore year through the UofA's Center for Recruitment and Retention of Mathematics Teachers. During this course I was mentored by two high school teachers who had me help during their classes. This experience gave me a good base for designing lessons and introduced me to common problems students have and how to work past them.
After completing this course and earning a listing on the math department's website, I tutored through the rest of my college career with students from middle school level to college level. As a result of being listed with the math department, most of my experience tutoring involved math. With this experience I've found I favor an approach to tutoring that builds from past lessons and mastered material into the current subject matter to work towards a personalized understanding where all the pieces fit nicely together and support one another. This approach makes finals time easier since we are periodically revisiting old material throughout the semester, keeping it fresh and reinforcing it the whole time. For math I find it especially useful to explore different applications of the subject matter to help motivate what we are learning and keep it interesting. Overall, I think science and math are cool, fun, challenging and worth every minute you put into it and I enjoy sharing my own interest whenever I can. I like to keep my lessons lighthearted and with three younger siblings I have become very patient, so don't worry about saying you don't understand!
During my free time I have a number of activities I enjoy. I grew up camping and fishing with my parents and continue to do so with friends and family and I've even spent a season building and repairing hiking trails. I enjoy music and messing around on my banjo and trying to sing and play at the same time. I also mess around a little with photography, which can be especially fun from a physics point of view. I spend a lot of time reading books, play a mean game of Mario Kart and enjoy just about any board game you put in front of me!

Zach’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Arizona - Bachelors, Engineering Physics, Applied Math, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Hobbies

Reading, Camping, Banjo, Photography, Board Games

Tutoring Subjects

Algebra

Algebra 2

Algebra 3/4

Biology

Calculus

College Algebra

College Biology

College English

College Physics

Ecology

English

Essay Editing

Geometry

High School Biology

High School English

High School Physics

Math

Physics

Pre-Calculus

Science

Trigonometry


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My learning philosophy is that students learn best when they construct their knowledge themselves. To that end, I try to guide students to the right answer, with questions and problems designed to help them discover the concept in question.

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

I like to jump right in so students can get a handle on my teaching style and determine if it will be a good fit. The main difference for my first sessions will be that I ask a few more questions and engage in more conversation so that we can get to know each other and start building up a sense of trust, which I find to be very important for a successful tutoring relationship.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

My teaching philosophy revolves around the idea of students constructing their knowledge themselves. Implicit in this method is students practicing teaching themselves. In addition, in order to ensure that the content we go over and the content the student is exposed to in class match up, I try to utilize the student's own notes and textbook, and while I do this, I narrate what I'm doing. This process of using the same resources that the student has models skills that a student can later use on their own to help them develop as independent learners.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The first strategy I use is positive reinforcement. Every student I encounter is doing something right, and I always try to point those things out, especially with students who have lost their confidence. The second strategy is keeping our lessons light hearted and fun. I think many struggling students associate the classroom with stress and disappointment, causing demotivation. I strive to counteract this by creating new associations between the material and the experience of fun and discovery during my lessons.

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

The first methods that are always available to me are presenting material with a highly visual approach (graphs, drawings, etc.), a highly verbal/linguistic approach (enumerated procedures, definitions, metaphor, etc.) and hybrid approaches (concept maps, classification diagrams, etc.). If these approaches don't work during a lesson, I will try to gather materials for demonstrations for a kinesthetic or spatial approach, or digital media for a musical or artistic approach to the material that the student can study after the lesson or during our next lesson. As I mainly teach physics and math, these subjects lend themselves to direct connections to a student's own interests, which is often enough to engage their intuition and help them overcome the obstacles they encounter.

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

I tend to follow the guidelines of the SIOP teaching model for ELLs. The main strategy I use is a focus on general academic vocabulary, not just the vocabulary related to the current topic. To support this explicit approach to vocabulary, I will direct students towards readings that use this vocabulary if needed. Lastly, discussion is built into each of my lessons, and to this end I always encourage students to use not only topic specific vocabulary and grammatical constructions, but also those of general academic language. For most students at the level I teach, this is enough, but as a future teacher I have additional methods and training I can utilize if these methods prove to be insufficient.