I recently graduated Cum Laude from Stony Brook University with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics. My work at Stony Brook primarily focused on statistics and data analysis. During my time at Stony Brook I worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant; it was during that work that I discovered that I not only had a passion, but a skill in helping others understand mathematics. I believe that math is a beautiful tool in everyday life, and I seek to help others understand why math is both important and useful in their lives. Many traditional mathematics courses focus on rigor, theory, and proofs, which does not help the student understand how they can apply those concepts to everyday life. I like to work with students to help them understand how the concepts they learn in the classroom can be applied to real world situations. The age-old question for a frustrated mathematics student is, "When am I ever going to use this in real life?" I seek to help people answer that question, and understand mathematical concepts wholly and intuitively; which I believe is the best way to foster a lifelong love of the numbers that make our world work.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe the best way for a student to learn is to go step-by-step through a problem with them, ensuring they understand not only the concept being questioned, but why the concept is important and how the concept works.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First, I would ask them where they feel their strengths and weaknesses lie. I would follow this with some practice questions to assess how they work through problems so I can best tailor the concept to the student. Following that, I would begin to help the student shore up their problem areas and reinforce their strengths.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I work to make sure students understand the importance of knowing a concept completely and how that concept is applied. Stressing this importance motivates the student to practice and note what they understand and don't understand, so they can assess their own strengths and weaknesses. From this self-assessment, the student can then work on improving their work independently. Should that fail, the student will know exactly what they need help with the next time they see a tutor or go to class.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Taking the skill or concept step-by-step to understand exactly what the difficulty in understanding is would be my first step. Once the difficulty is pinpointed, I would give a short explanation of the concept, using a real-world example. Then I'd ask the student questions about the concept. Should that fail, I would attempt to tackle the concept from a different angle, asking the student questions that they can answer until the student feels that they have mastered the concept.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would ask the student questions that not only test the student on the material, but on the application of that material to other contexts. If the student can apply the material to new contexts and new concepts, then they have demonstrated an understanding of the material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
If a student is struggling with a subject, the easiest way to build confidence is to take the student back to what they know. Ask questions on the material they know, then slowly add new material, ensuring that they understand each new step we are taking in the subject.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation is best achieved through progress and positive reinforcement. If a student sees how they have progressed, they will be more motivated to continue working. If the student is struggling, breaking the subject down into basic components will allow the student to progress and stay motivated.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
If a student is struggling with reading comprehension, the best way to help them is to work through the passage together so that the specific weak point of the student can be identified. Once the weakness is identified, it can be worked on so that the student can better understand future passages.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Asking the student what they are currently struggling in, and assessing how they react when they are taught new material allows me to better understand how the student learns and how I can best serve them.