A photo of Javier, a tutor from Temple University

Javier

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I have a BS degree in mathematics from Temple University, and I am passionate about math. In fact, to say I am passionate is something of an understatement. Math is the most beautiful thing in the universe, and I want open everybody's eyes to this deep and wonderful truth. Math is something to be enjoyed. I believe that while knowing the formulas and procedures is important, memorizing mathematical formulas without appreciating the concepts is akin to memorizing the lines of a Shakespeare play without paying attention to the underlying prose.

My strongest subjects are linear algebra and pre-calculus though I am proficient at tutoring all high school and college underclassmen mathematical subjects.

I hope that my passion is contagious and that all of my students leave me not only having learned the material but understanding the beauty and wonderment of it all.

Javier’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Temple University - Bachelor of Science, Mathematics

Hobbies

Puzzles, games, science fiction, bicycling


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

Learning is about discovering the world, and teaching is about facilitating that discovery. Students need to explore without fear of stumbling along the way. I believe in encouraging students to try new things and learn as much from their mistakes as from their successes.

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

A typical first session would include getting to know the student, evaluating their fundamental skills to see if they need more work, and getting them to really think about why the subject they're learning is worthwhile and important.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

Students become independent learners when the material is presented not as a chore but instead as a challenging puzzle or game.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The way to keep students motivated is to constantly show them how their mistakes are stepping stones to knowledge rather than personal failures.

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

The best approach to helping a student having difficulty learning a skill or concept is dependent upon both the particular skill and the particular student. The most common approaches are to relate the concept to other concepts they may already understand and to create fun activities that use the desired skills.

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

1. I present several different explanations and strategies for the same problem. 2. I openly express my own love and passion for the subject matter.

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

I would show the student my own excitement and passion.

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

It is paramount to stress that making mistakes and getting things wrong is a vital part of the learning process and, contrary to what one might think, a sign of learning.

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

The best exercise to improve reading comprehension starts with rewriting the passage in question then moves on to restating the passage in the student's own words. I would then discuss with the student the similarities and differences between the passages (in essence, let the student grade their own work).

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

One effective technique is to "switch roles" and have the student explain the material to me while I ask her/him questions.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I start by reviewing the fundamentals. For mathematics of all levels (including Calculus), the most important fundamental skills are working with (1) fractions and (2) inequalities. I believe that these skills are so fundamental that it is always worth reviewing them, even for professors.

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

The stronger the student's fundamental skills, the more I approach tutoring as a guided activity where I let the student explore and discover.

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

I mostly use graph paper and a pen or pencil. Depending on the subject, I may use props. For example, if I'm tutoring a probability student, I might bring different colored objects and a bag/box. I find that seeing and touching not only aids in learning but also helps develop the student's imagination for when props aren't available (like during an exam).