I believe most people learn best by practicing, but it has to be the right kind of practice. Flailing around at something intimidating, where you don't know how to even start, can be discouraging and counterproductive. I try to provide enough scaffolding to make students feel safe exploring, and to try something else if the first approach doesn't work. I also try to teach the process of solving problems, which students can use for themselves as they build confidence.
I have a Master???s Degree in Chemistry from Cornell, where I was a teaching assistant for Introductory Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, and Physical Chemistry. While pursuing a PhD at RPI, I was a volunteer tutor for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering students.
While working in industry, I taught my co-workers Statistics, Experiment Design, and Technical Writing. More recently, I have been a professional independent tutor, helping students with test prep, Math, Statistics, Chemistry, and Physics. I help teens and adults overcome fears (especially fear of Math) so they can learn more effectively and solve problems confidently.
I teach test prep, Math, Statistics, Chemistry, and Physics. I especially like teaching Math, because I find it so satisfying to help students overcome the barriers related to thinking they "can't do Math." Whether my students want to use Math to excel in Science, or to get top scores on standardized tests, or just recognize when somebody is lying to them with Statistics, I like knowing I can help.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Michigan - Bachelor of Science, Chemistry
Graduate Degree: Cornell University - Master of Science, Chemistry
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe people learn best by practice, but it has to be the right kind of practice--not flailing at problems they don't know how to start, because that's intimidating and discouraging; not wasting time with problems they could work in their sleep. It's important that students feel safe trying to think about the problem, safe making mistakes, and safe saying where they don't understand something.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Approach it in a different way, starting by making it less abstract if possible. Equations can be solved graphically. Fractions can be colored on graph paper, or we can use measuring cups and water, before going back to calculations. Grammar challenges can be re-stated to be about more familiar topics.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When a student seems to be having trouble with reading, I often ask them to read a few lines to me, so we can pick out the more important details. This shows me what kind of reading difficulty they are struggling with. Most often, they are simply having trouble figuring out which details are important, and it helps them a great deal to understand the structure of different kinds of writing, so they know what to look for. But if they are having trouble focusing on the right part of the paragraph, I suggest reading with a straightedge under the line. If they struggle with the process of decoding itself, I suggest subvocalizing (or reading aloud, where that is feasible).