I have been an AVID math tutor for four years, and I am working on a degree in math education. I never thought that I would pursue the field of education. I had spent my entire life dedicating myself to school. The sooner I got out, the better. Or so I thought.
I decided to visit my former high school to consult my teachers to see what advice they could give me. They led me to an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class. It was during tutorials (AVID classes have tutorials in which the class is divided into subjects, and there are certified tutors who would help assist the students in understanding the subject matter) I saw a group that did not have a tutor. I asked why that math group lacked a tutor, and it was because the previous tutor could not/ did not have the skills to help these students. That was when it became clear to me: I am passionate about helping others understand and improve.
I found myself in love with finding errors and helping students understand math problems. Many tutors fail to realize that some students struggle because they lack the proper tools/ basic foundations, and not because they do not simply understand the problem. Being a tutor made me both empathetic and sympathetic, having students confide in me, and realizing that what they are going through fuels me to not only become an educator but a mentor as well.
California State University, Long Beach - Expected Degree- Bachelor of Science, Mathematics Education
What is your teaching philosophy?
Learning is not a one-size-fits-all type of thing; every student has a different way of learning, and it is my responsibility to understand what method works best, adjusting to the student's needs.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Befriend and earn the respect of the student. Students are more willing to pay attention and cooperate once they respect and trust you.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Confidence. I will build my students' confidence. They will not be deterred by a mistake. On the contrary, said mistake will allow them to learn as to why a method did not work. Making mistakes is an integral part of learning. At the end of the day, my students will know that mistakes are okay as long as they learn from them.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Once again, building his or her confidence. Students lack motivation because they are "bad" at a subject when, in reality, they have not been exposed to the teaching style that is most effective for them. This results in a lack of confidence in themselves. Students who are confident in themselves will continue to try, try, and try again, and once they can tackle questions they had trouble with previously, they will have the motivation to continue through with the rest of the process.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, it is my responsibility to understand why he or she is struggling, what part of the skill/ concept she does not understand, and help her understand it through various methods.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
To best help students who are struggling with reading comprehension, I have to understand where and why he or she is struggling, then I can tackle the root of the problem.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Patience. The more impatient you are, the more the student is prone to fear being deemed as "dumb."
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
This ties in with one of my principals, building a bond with the student; this will result in me getting to know the student more, and from there, I can apply it to his or her interest(s).
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Every single technique that I can think of. This isn't merely for the student; it is for me as well. Having an arsenal of different techniques makes me better at what I do.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Providing compliments and high praises when he or she gets a step, and if he or she makes a mistake, I will reassure him or her that plenty of people have made the same mistakes as well.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
In order to evaluate my students, I first need to work with them to see where they struggle, and from there, I will emphasize those areas.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
In order to best help these students, I need to know what kind of style(s) my students favor. From there, I can bend and mold my lessons to the way(s) they learn best.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I try my best to include everything that pertains to the topic at hand. Typically, the materials that are needed to tackle any difficult math problem are pencils, erasers, papers, patience, and an open mind (using different methods to combat the same problem).