The aspects of tutoring come naturally to me. When I understand a subject, I have a need to help others understand it as well. My belief is that it is not beneficial to understand how to do one problem but that it is in truly understanding the concepts that you are able to complete numerous problems. My mind constantly asks the deeper “Why?” things work the way they do. “Why is an equilibrium constant that is small indicate a reversely spontaneous reaction?” “Why does a weak acid behave the way it does?” My refusal to give up on those that don’t understand material, and my belief that anyone can succeed if they spend the time that they need on a concept, fuels my drive to nurture academic growth in others. Their only obstacle will be themselves; they can go as far as they are willing to go.
My main experience comes from the classroom and tutoring center at my former community college. I was not officially employed, but tutored of my own accord for friends and classmates. I have consistently received praise for my patience, sense of humor, confidence, and ability to explain well. I have been told that I should think about teaching, however, since I am pursuing a career in medicine, tutoring is a way for me to stay connected and give back.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
If you will it, you can get it - but only if you push. I believe that everyone can succeed if they are willing to do so. That will can be used by those who instruct you to guide you to your goal. With that in mind, I am finished when you are finished. As long as you have the will to move forward, I will move forward.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I will gauge your comfort with the material and answer any preliminary questions about the subject itself. I will attempt to determine how the individual learns and use that for future reference. My goal is to convince the individual that the subject is interesting and equally fascinating if you just break it down.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Imagine a certain problem as a puzzle. The concepts that have been learned are the puzzle pieces. I will teach the individual to use the concepts as pieces to complete the puzzle in front of them. I will help them understand that every problem must be taken at different angles, and each concept is a tool that can be used to solve it. I will urge them to think in the future about what the problem is asking and compile a list of concepts that will help them get to the answer. I constantly say, "Look at what the question wants. Look at what it gives you. Now, think of what you need to get it what it wants."
How would you help a student stay motivated?
There are places that people want to get to. Goals. Dreams. Careers. Whether the subject is needed for what they want to do, or it is just a means to an end, every subject helps mold the individual mentally and academically. I will constantly remind the student if they have a goal, mastering the subject is a step closer to getting there. If they are undeclared in their intended path, then I will tell them to be the best at something (the subject) so when they figure out their intended goal, they will be the best at that as well. If you can be good at something you don't like to do, then you will have no problem mastering something you like to do.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find out their learning style. I find out their weaknesses and strengths. I explain the concepts using that information, and then practice, practice, practice.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I will relate it to the real world, and give examples of the history of the subject and how it relates to the individual. I show them what has been done, and what that individual could do in the future.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would break it down and teach it to them step by step. I take liberty in using real-world examples or simple objects that are relevant.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I get it; the English language is not so straightforward. In order to understand what exactly you are reading, we have to look at the context and the relative details. We will look at both the minor details and the big picture to create a fluid understanding of the text in front of you.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I ask them. The student knows best what they feel they need. If they have no idea, then I'll start from the most basic skill/concept and work my way up.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I usually ask how they feel they learn the best. Visually? Great, let's use whiteboards and paper. Audibly? Wonderful, let's repeatedly recite the Krebs Cycle. I work around you. There's no use in forcing you to learn a certain way.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Whiteboards if they are available. Colored pens and paper are equally as useful. Simple objects that are immediately available are also fair game. I'm a spontaneous person like that!
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would show them the breakdown of the concept and have them walk through it. Then I ask them to walk me through it as if I'm the student. The best way to understand the material is to assume that you are going to be expected to teach it.