First, some select information about myself. I graduated from the University of Arizona with dual degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Dance. I am a professional dancer here in New York City, working with various project-based companies, generally in contemporary or contemporary ballet work. I have been tutoring, in various forms and fashions, since 2008 with organizations like National Honor Society and Tau Beta Pi (the original Engineering Honor Society), as well as freelance personal tutoring. I have two overarching aspirations in life. I would like to understand the world, and especially the people in it. I would also like to spread that knowledge, subsequently inspiring people to seek their own truths.
Tutoring is a beautiful composition of art and science. One must understand both the material and the student. Not just simple comprehension, but in what manner the comprehension is reached. I enjoy breaking down problems into logical sub-units. First, the underlying equations (or axioms, or vocabulary, or processes) must be understood, preferably on an instinctual level, as it is easier to remember ideas when they make sense at a core level. Then these ideas are applied to the problem, in order to unlock the solution. Generally, when students are having trouble with a problem (or type of problem) there is a non-sequitur somewhere in that process. My job, which is quite fun in this way, is to identify and correct this misunderstanding. One of the best feelings in the world is helping someone see the underlying beauty governing the world and humans. Understanding why and how things work is beautiful.
I am qualified in a variety of subjects, as befits my rather bizarre dual degree choice, from AP Computer Science to the Biological Sciences section of the MCAT. And if you need help with your ballet skills, I can definitely help there as well!
John Raffles’ Qualifications
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Arizona - Bachelors, Biomedical Engineering and Dance
SAT Composite: 2210
SAT Math: 740
SAT Verbal: 800
SAT Mathematics Level 2: 800
SAT Subject Test in Chemistry: 770
SAT Subject Test in Biology E/M: 760
Dance, Reading, Kickball, Board-games, Pizza!
AP Computer Science
AP Computer Science A
College Computer Science
MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
High School Computer Science
High School English
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Technology and Computer Science
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Students struggle not because they are incapable of learning, but because somewhere in the process of understanding, small inconsistencies creep up and disable whole pathways downstream in the process. My job is to identify and correct those places, allowing natural understanding to resume.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
For subject tutoring, I like to begin with an overview of the course, identifying which sections the student anticipates trouble in and reviewing pertinent information from previous classes. Then the process begins! For Test Prep, an overview of the test itself (sections, information covered), previous attempts (if any), desired scores, and areas of anticipated difficulty are all desirable beginning points. Of course, I am open to suggestions from my students as well!
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Learning is a life-long process. Ease of acquiring knowledge is a necessary skill that everyone should strive to achieve. That being said, there are various strategies offered to maximize intake of knowledge, but by far the best is to simply and fully understand the basics. The small ideas that form the foundations of the knowledge base of the subject will always guide you properly, and help you remember more clearly that which comes after.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation can often be self-provided during short breaks if study is for an extended period of time. Even five minutes of stretching the legs and "not thinking" can easily provide a return to a motivated state. Reminders of the long-term benefits of achieving the desired goals typically helps as well.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Break down the concept or skill into its component ideas. Mastering each separately and then stitching them together into a cohesive whole is an excellent method.