I am a hard working systems professional that has never outgrown my love for math or for coaching others.
As a student, I earned a BS in Mathematics/Psychology from Manhattan College with a minor in Computer Science. At that time I coached students in calculus and advanced mathematics. At this time, I also coached high school students in algebra and trigonometry.
As a professional, I have trained and mentored hundreds of individuals throughout my career. I have both designed systems, created training material and traveled in both the US and Europe to train my co-workers. In addition, I have worked as on-line instructor for University of Phoenix, teach programming and Computer Information Systems. I coach basketball, baseball and soccer for my child's local sports teams.
My most important job is that of a father to my 12 year old son. I have worked with him over the years, and I am proud to say that he is sharing in my love of math as a student in the Math Program at the local Middle School.
My favorite word when coaching is the word 'Yet'. Of course students may not be good at math...yet. And of course, a student may not know an answer to a math problem...yet. But with a little work, focus and motivation, WE can make it that understanding math is a great experience.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I try to use the student's textbook and problems where possible. I will use web resources to explain concepts that either the textbook or my examples can not provide.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Get to know my student. Ask what they like to do, what their passions are, and where they like to put their energies. I would then ask about their academics and inquire about their goals for the course. I would ask to see what they have been doing over the last few weeks and where they are going in the next few weeks, so I can gauge what we should be concentrating on.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I am a big fan of learning websites, and I would give them videos to review that reinforce things that we went over. I would ask the student to focus in class and not be afraid of asking questions so they are better able to keep up with the material.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I love motivation stories of people who got what they wanted by never giving up. Stories like Col. Sanders, or Steve Jobs or Soichiro Honda. With math, many times it's simply staying consistent and practicing problems that produces the breakthrough. Once the breakthrough occurs, the student gets the confidence, which then makes the difference, and math becomes a snap.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I try to relate things that students don't understand and possibly don't like to things they do understand and do like. I try to use examples of things students are passionate about in order to get them to understand the concept. I also will insist (at times) that students change their posture to engage their body to act confidently, even though they may not feel very confident.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Although I teach math, a key of reading is to get a mental picture of what was read before moving to the next paragraph. When students are able to associate pictures, reading comprehension becomes easier.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Find out what a student likes. Develop rapport by making eye contact and being positive. Stay focused on the result of learning.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I like to find things that students like to do and get them in a state of things they find likable. Then, I try to associate things that students like with things they can find in math. I also NEVER talk down to anyone, and I reemphasize that math is just like any skill that you have mastered. It just takes practice and repetition.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would write things down so they have material to study. I would break things down to things that are easy, and they can prove without math (plugging in numbers to show that it makes sense).
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I would start simple and build upon that to go to advanced learning. Like any learning, advanced learning only happens when you master the simple. I would also make sure that if a student doesn't know, they answer that they do not know the answer...'yet'. But they will, as 'Yet' is a temporary state.