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John

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I have taught science and mathematics at the high school and college prep level for over 14 years. I am passionate about the "shared learning" of science and knowledge in general. I call it that because I'm just as much a student as ever. I've just been at it so long that I can now teach it. There's always something new to be learned, even in the old formulas, when we co-discover ways of explaining these ideas in new contexts.
I look forward to acknowledging and helping you find your brilliance as you find success in your self-education.

John’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Arizona - Bachelor of Science, Ecology, Evolutionary Biology

Hobbies

Music, guitar, gardening, hiking and camping

Tutoring Subjects

Algebra

Algebra 3/4

Biology

Chemistry

College Algebra

College Biology

College Chemistry

College Geography

Earth Science

Ecology

Elementary School Math

Elementary School Science

Environmental Science

Geography

Geometry

High School Biology

High School Chemistry

High School Geography

Life Sciences

Math

Middle School Math

Middle School Science

Physical Science

Pre-Algebra

Science

Social studies

Statistics


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I view teaching as a shared learning experience. When I teach, it is for the love of sharing knowledge with students that they can best benefit from. I also look at it as the best way I can serve my community and others. I have learned that education and the skills acquired in critical thinking, mathematics, and the scientific method specifically, are liberating and empowering for individuals.

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

I ask the student what they are looking for in the tutoring relationship. The student is the best assessor of their own strengths and weaknesses. I want to know their learning style, so I ask them questions about that-- are they more visual or auditory, etc. I want to know about their past experiences with tutors-- what they like or disliked. In the first session, we set up goals and expectations as well as schedule appointments around the curricula and syllabus. Then, I look at examples of their notes and note-taking skills and offer suggestions on those. We then get to work right away on their course.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I help students become independent learners by assessing what motivates them to learn and sharing some tips and techniques that have been proven to work. Ongoing, lifelong education takes desire, and that comes when any student realizes rewards along the way. I encourage them to find their own passion and interest in the subject at hand so that they can 'own' it and gain satisfaction from mastery of the course.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Frequent praise and encouragement goes a long way towards keeping a student motivated, I think. If the student is experiencing frustration or has a block in understanding, then it helps to listen to them express that, and work it out through gentle questioning and guidance.

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

We take a deep breath together and get past the emotional part of frustration first. Then, we start taking the problem apart and breaking it into manageable chunks. Was there something missing in their foundational knowledge? What was unclear in the teacher's communication? Quite often, there's an error or miscommunication on the teacher's part, and it is not the fault of the student. So, we get past that, and then I'll use examples and different descriptions of the skill or concept, relating them to the student's own knowledge and skill set.

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

I help students struggling with reading comprehension by first finding out their motivations for learning a certain subject. We both get an assessment of what they already know by asking they think of when they hear a certain phrase or a particular concept? What do they want to get out of their reading? So, we set out with a purpose to find out more. I then give some tips for active reading such as predicting, overview, scanning, questioning the material, and how to look for cues to get the most out of it.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

Listening intently to what they have to say about themselves and what their interests are is the best first strategy in my opinion. We then make and follow the student's own strategies for success in a class, based on their previous experience. I'll add some techniques or embellishments and see if those suit the student's style or if they work.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I look at current issues that they might be interested in or something in their background or geographical location that ties in with the particular subject. I have found that students can get excited about a subject if I'm sharing my own enthusiasm and asking them to participate in this new discovery. Keeping it fresh and pertinent is key.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

Plan, do, and then review. I'll ask questions about the material, before, during, and after. In a tutoring session, I'll note any gaps or new concepts the student is having trouble with and make sure we review those frequently over time. I like coming up with examples for the type of problem they are working with, and I use as many variations as possible until they have that "aha!" moment.

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

I use praise and recognition of their abilities where and whenever it can be found. "Yes!" and high fives when they get it. "Okay, you're doing fine, let's do this part here..." until they do. When they get it, it's cause for a mini-celebration.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I ask questions about what sort of strategies they are employing now, are they keeping an organizer, do they want better note-taking and note-making skills? We evaluate where the student is at and what their challenges are.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

I adapt my tutoring to the student's needs by paying careful attention to what they say about their learning style and their approach to discovery.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

We use notebooks, scratch paper, and sometimes the internet to take on those difficult problems. I really like sharing ideas and teach how to do 'note-making,' as contrasted with note taking.