I am a chemist by training and by trade. I earned bachelors in chemistry from Brown University in 2005. It is the one academic subject that I have deep understanding of, and a passion for. I have been tutoring since the fall of 2008, and regardless of where I end up, I will always be thinking in terms of chemical principles. A good understanding of chemistry is impossible without a solid foundation in math and physics. For that reason, I teach math from algebra to calculus, and up to introductory college level physics.
The best teacher I ever had was my high school physics teacher, Mr. Ball. He used the Socratic Method, and very skillfully balanced lecturing with class discussion. He provided the minimum amount of information needed to allow the students to reach conclusions. He was actually teaching us how to learn and think under the guise of teaching physics. After I took that class, I felt as if I could figure out any problemI could do anything. My teaching style is modeled after my physics teacher. In a one-on-one situation, group discussion with other students is impossible, but I encourage the student to reason on his or her own as much as possible. The general strategy is this: definitions come first, reasoning is second, and details are last. I find that too often we get caught up in the details, because we need them to answer the question in front of us. Concepts and reasoning are much more important. They allow us to answer any question, not just the one we see now.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Brown University - Bachelor of Science, Chemistry
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High School Chemistry
High School Physics
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Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My general strategy is to teach the definitions first, the reasoning second, and the details last. I try to give as little information as possible, and let the student work through the logic and reach the conclusion on his/her own.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
After general introductions, I try to give an overview of my teaching style. The hope is the student will buy into my teaching philosophy. It will be more difficult at first, but much easier in the end.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
This is the goal of any teacher. The hope is that by focusing on the logic and reasoning, the student will gain an understanding of the material. The student can then use the same logical progression on a topic that he/she has never seen before.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The first step is to establish what the goals are, and make sure they are realistic. From there, I like to remind the student of the goals, and celebrate small victories. Perfection is usually not the goal. Seeing progress is very helpful.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
A difficult concept is rarely a fundamental concept. They are often a combination of several simpler concepts. Observation is key on my part. I will review any underlying concepts that are the root cause of the struggle. If need be, I will then walk the student through the logic that connects the simpler concepts and forms the more complicated concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is outside my area of expertise. However, I find that students tend to struggle with contextual clues. In particular, I like to focus on connotation.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When first working with a student, the key is understanding how he/she thinks as soon as possible. I know now to never assume anything about a student's abilities. It is important to know what the student's strengths as well as weaknesses are. I find that asking the student to explain why a given subject is either easy or difficult to be very helpful.