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Michael

I graduated from Baylor University with a BA in Computer Science and Russian. I've had over three years of experience tutoring at Baylor's official tutoring center, and many more years with private or informal (friends, family) tutoring.
I have the most experience and skill at teaching Mathematics, particularly early college courses like Calculus 1 and 2 or Statistics, as well as high school courses. However, I also enjoy teaching many other courses, such as Writing, Computer Science, and Russian.

My style of teaching is to try and identify exactly what you need most. Perhaps you need a concept explained in a different way, maybe with personification or a cheesy metaphor! Or perhaps (and this is very common) there is some gap in your previous education, something crucial that wasn't taught to you in an earlier course; I identify the gap and then fix it so you can gain full understanding. Or even, you might have a very solid understanding of a subject, but just freeze up on tests! In that case, I have helpful tips and advice so you can get the grade you deserve!

Besides tutoring, I'm a pretty big nerd with a passion for the arts. Literature, film, music, ballet, video games, I love 'em all, and I love a good conversation. I have a particular passion for designing and programming video games, and my friend and I own an independent video game studio that we're trying to get off the ground.

Undergraduate Degree:

Baylor University - Bachelor in Arts, Computer Science, Russian

Playing and making video games, film, reading, writing, good conversation, social media

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is to strike a balance between a student's short-term and long-term needs. I feel it's crucial to build comprehensive knowledge of a subject one step at a time, with no holes or shortcuts, to ensure conceptual *and* practical mastery. However, I also understand the pressures of the modern educational system, so if a student has, say, a test in 24 hours, then I will *not* strictly adhere to my normal methods at the expense of their grade! I will help drill only the concepts they need to succeed on that test, and then after the test is over go back to more long-term-style teaching.

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

For math, my main area of teaching, after getting to know the student a bit I like to jump right into whatever topic the student is currently learning in their class! By doing practice problems on the current subject I can easily assess if there are deficiencies in other areas, but I think that spending too much time with talk or theory frustrates the average student. Also, I think a focus on completing and discussing on practice problems boosts a student's confidence because they see themselves quickly learning new information and overcoming previously insurmountable problems!

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

For math, one big goal for me is to teach a student how to use their textbook. Most math textbooks are difficult to understand because they use highly precise and technical language, but if a student can learn to understand the notation and vocabulary a textbook uses, then the book becomes a powerful reference!

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

Sometimes, a student has trouble with a type of problem because the underlying theory is difficult to grasp. While I generally think theory is important (it's bad if a student just follows patterns blindly with no understanding, obviously!), I also think sometimes you don't need to know how a bike works in order to ride it! So *if* the concept remains elusive, I instead just teach them the step-by-step factory-like method for solving the problem. I've noticed that, in many cases, after learning HOW to solve a problem and solving many of them, the underlying theory eventually just *clicks*. I think this is because, even if the conscious mind is just following instructions, the subconscious mind is able to analyze the problems being solved and eventually come to unravel the systems at work.

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

I *always* tell a student any time they do a good job, and I also make sure to not give out undue praise (because if a student notices I'm constantly praising them then they won't actually believe me) If a student almost gets a problem right but makes one tiny mistake, I'll still make sure they know they did a good job on the rest of it! Plus, if a student thinks they can't do a problem, I can often say something like "well, this problem is very similar to one you did very well about 20 minutes ago, so I know you can do this one, too!" Before a test I always intentionally take some extra time to do a bit of encouraging as well.