Math is everywhere. Yet, it can be one of the most difficult subject for many students. My goal as a teacher is to first learn which subjects and hobbies that my student enjoys. And, then show how almost every topic within math is utilized by that student. Once I motivate that student to want to learn more about the subject matter, it is a matter of time before my student masters that topic and want to learn about another topic. It is a great confidence booster and a lesson for life. The student believes that if they can conquer the most difficult subject, then can master anything in life.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Chicago - Bachelor in Arts, Political Science and Government
Graduate Degree: University of Rhode Island - Master of Science, Accounting
Reading, Following sports (baseball/football), exercising, family
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
As a teacher, I am there to help a student succeed. As a math teacher, I realize that math is one of the most difficult subject for most students. However, when a student can solve a challenging math problem, this can be a major confidence booster. It also gives that positive feeling to the student that s/he can do almost anything. My goal is to help develop that inner confidence within the student so that they have that confidence that they can accomplish anything.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My priority is to discover what activities that student likes to participate in. Math is everywhere, and when I can make that connection with the material, the student will want to learn more about the topic.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My goal is to help that student develop the confidence that they can solve almost any math problem. Once they develop that confidence, they will never need my assistance.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
As a tutor, it is critical that I connect with my student. I do my best to spend a few minutes discussing their week and sharing some of their interests. Having the knowledge helps. But, I have to show that I am good person who can be trusted. If I can succeed, that student will look forward to each session.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
As a math teacher that happens all of the time. I first try to find a connection between the material and the students interests. I want to create a picture in the student's mind of how the student uses that material in their daily lives. Once the student develops the big picture, I then use a lot of repetition until I feel comfortable that the student has an excellent grasp of the material.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I have only taught reading comprehension to students one time. Normally, I start very simply and gradually build up the level of sophistication. After each session, I make the students write a short paragraph in which they have to answer a short and thought-provoking question to ensure that they understood the author's message.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I wish that I could use a "cookie cutter" approach to all of my students. Generally, I like to learn a little about the student. I would want to know what school activities they participate in, as well as their hobbies. I also need to know any learning disabilities or weaknesses. I then adopt a strategy to teach that student.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
My goal is to develop their confidence. I first want to show how they apply that material in their daily lives. Luckily, math is everywhere, and it is easy to find an example of how they utilize it without even realizing. Once that student is motivated in the material, I find it easier to teach them, and the student grasps the material with that better understanding.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
As a math teacher, I constantly review and repeat material that the student finds challenging. If they do not master the material the first time, I adapt and find an alternative method to explain it. Eventually, the student masters the subject.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I first want to show how the student utilizes the material in their daily life. That will hopefully motivate them to want to learn about it. I then provide a simple explanation and have the student do dozens of problems until I have the confidence that they know it. Once they can solve a few problems, they have the confidence that they can complete any related problem.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
When I see the student constantly make the same mistake, I will spend time correcting the bad habits. Or, I will try a different trick until that student overcomes those bad habits. As an example, I have had situations where the student will constantly make mistakes adding numbers. I will then recommend that they draw columns to separate things. These are simple techniques that work and help a student become better mathematicians.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
In college, I was a liberal arts major. Sometimes I have to tell stories to motivate the student in that subject area. More often, I have to learn which subjects and activities that excite the student, and show how that topic is used in their daily life. Once I motivate the student, the teaching becomes easier.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The Internet is filled with problems. I happen to be a major fan of word problems, and I do my best to bring everyday problems into the mix as well. This might be follow-up material. It reinforces the material being learned.