There is always a trick to solving math problems. Some of them may be invisible to you. That's OK! As a tutor, I am committed to showing my students the bigger picture and sharing my secrets. It is extremely important to me that a student leaves a session with something to show for it. I will dedicate my time to whatever this may be such as completing tonight's home work, lab, test corrections, or if you just missed the lecture. Feel free to pick my brain.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Learn like you will live forever.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Find out the gaps in their understanding.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Practice and make attempts before asking for help.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Ask questions and make mistakes now so they don't happen when being graded. Also, I encourage them to surround themselves with motivated students.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I like to find the gaps in their understanding quickly. I can create a custom remedy for their needs. If they are completely lost, don't have a textbook, didn't take any notes, or missed a lecture, then I would gladly teach them from start to finish. I work to assure that there are no gaps.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
There are several tricks. One of them, for example, is to read a lengthy paragraph, which can be dense, and practice summing it up in a sentence. It is difficult at first, but you would be surprised how much can be summarized in a properly configured sentence.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
For math especially, recognizing that section 2.4 problems are given to us like this, and the answers are always like this, is hugely beneficial. Usually a full test has a reasonable amount of sections it covers. Recognizing which questions came from where helps to know what route to take with them. I also have something I like to call the "Three Envelopes." The envelopes are labeled; Daily, Weekly, Monthly. When you first get topics from sections, or you get some wrong, they go into the daily envelope. Then if you get those correct for 3 days, they can move to the weekly envelope. Then take them weekly, but if you get it wrong it has to go back in the daily envelope. If you get 2 weeks in a row correct they can go into the Monthly envelope, where they will hopefully stay until the final exam. This should be about 1 hour of work every day to check the status of your envelopes, and work through those problems. It keeps a nice flow, and you can continually revisit your biggest issues often.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Realize that challenge and high expectations are more motivating than low expectations. It feels good to improve. It just takes practice.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I'd like to stop every so often and recap the last 20 minutes or so, taking about 30 seconds. This helps to avoid letting newly formed connections slip. I would ask them at the end to summarize everything we had gone over, taking about 2 minutes. Just getting the questions correct is not enough to see the whole picture. It takes revisiting the thought process often.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I stay light-hearted so that mistakes don't feel embarrassing. They can feel safe with me, and in the fact that getting the right answer just requires a small change in the thought process, and on the whole they are making good progress.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I like to make sure they have the basic tools in order to solve the problems. If they have the basic math skills then I can help nudge them into the correct solutions. On the other hand, if they are lost and have no understanding of the material, then I would gladly show them everything that I know about the topic. My thought process is very easy to understand.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
There are students that just want the math, some want the story, and others just want the answers. They each have unique goals, and I can satisfy them all.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I like to have a few formula sheets for analytical work. For graphical analysis, I can easily make quick plots on Wolfram Alpha. I also have access to nearly all the textbook teaching solution manuals online. This ensures that the author's approved solutions are met.