My name is Zach Polonsky, and I am a junior at Colorado School of Mines, studying Engineering Physics. As a physics major, I know the importance of understanding the fundamentals of a subject before trying to focus on specifics, especially in math and science. I try to have a very flexible teaching style, as I know not everybody learns in the same way, and I will always come prepared to teach a subject in multiple ways depending on the student's way of learning. I am outgoing, encouraging and patient, and I will always push my students to achieve to the best of their abilities.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Colorado School of Mines - Bachelor of Science, Engineering Physics
Skiing, running, mountain biking, comics
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Chemistry
High School Physics
Middle School Science
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is that it is most important for a student to have a firm understanding of the basics of a subject before he/she focuses on specific parts. Once the fundamentals are well-grasped, it makes learning more focused topics in that subject significantly easier.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session, I would be sure to find out what the student understands well and what he/she struggles with. This way, I will be able to not waste time teaching topics with which the student already has no trouble. This also helps me to know the student's basis of understanding of the subject as a whole, giving me the ability to relate topics that the student struggles with to those that are well-grasped.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
It is important to me not to just give students answers, but to guide them through the processes necessary to finding answers on their own. This helps students build the confidence needed to not only know the material, but to be more open to learning new material.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
It is important to me to keep an extremely encouraging attitude toward the student's learning process. Sometimes, if the student is becoming too frustrated with a topic, it may be necessary to just switch to a more basic, easier-to-grasp concept to build confidence. If this does not work, it may even be necessary to take a short break (3-5 minutes) from the work, allowing the student to relax and collect their thoughts so they can focus on the material better in the future.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
At first, I would walk them through an example problem or two step-by-step. If the student is still struggling, I would focus on a more basic, related concept or skill to make sure the student has a firm basis before getting into more complex tasks.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
After showing them the fundamentals of a subject, I would show them practical examples of how the subject can be applied to real-life situations to get the student excited about learning the material.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
For every few problems that I would work with the student on, I would try to have to student not only do the problem on their own, but also explain their thought process while working on it.