Reflecting on my past tutoring experience as both tutor and student, I appreciate the value of education and the concepts of learning. When students learn to focus their attention on education, every aspect of their lives will be positively impacted. Education broadens perspectives and opportunities, as well as motivates innovative individuals. Through tutoring, I hope my knowledge and skills will cultivate a yearning for knowledge within the student that will invoke success within their academic lives.
As I continue my biomedical engineering studies as a junior in college this semester, I firmly believe both my coursework and past tutoring experiences will fuse to create a wealth of knowledge both academically and personally from a student point of view. Being a student myself allows connections with the student to be made, for often the pressure of exams and grades can be stressful, which is something I can personally relate to. Academically, the coursework I have taken thus far will be more than beneficial to any student struggling in a math or science subject. From algebra and basic math, to complicated derivatives and integrals, I have covered most algebraic and calculus based classes. In addition, to the math based coursework, I have also been well versed in biology, chemistry and anatomy. The foundation of my college education will definitely contribute to knowledge and methods of my tutoring.
Additionally, I have been a tutor in a variety of subjects since I was in high school. Initially, my first students were middle schoolers needing additional help with their algebra during a homework club. This quickly expanded to personal tutoring, where I focused one on one with students to cover subjects more advanced such as pre-calculus and calculus. The most recent students I have worked with have been utilizing my knowledge to help them with the formation of essays and furthering their reading comprehension and language skills.
I enjoy working with young students and encouraging them to enjoy learning. I believe my teamwork capabilities will help the students truly understand their materials, and motivate them to strive for success.
University of Connecticut - Current Undergrad, Biomedical Engineering
What is your teaching philosophy?
When teaching, the ultimate goal I try to achieve is encouraging a true dynamic learning experience. Dynamic learning experience in my mind means actively participating and wanting to understand. So many times, I have had students memorize the information just to simply complete an assignment. Through true desire to learn, a student can actively participate and strive to do better and actually store the information in their brains. By putting forth as much effort as possible, the walls of difficulty and confusion of a subject can come down. The desire to learn can offer new perspectives to students who struggle finding academic success.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In the first session with a student, I would first assess the content they were studying and the academic difficulty level. Once the rigor of the content is established, asking the student their strong and weak points in their academics would be key. This not only shows their areas that need improvement, but their strong areas where they feel comfortable. Comfort will generate confidence, thus, the student will be more motivated to complete their studies. Lack of confidence in a subject is a major contribution to difficulties in a certain subject area. Also, as their tutor, I could try and relate their strong areas of study to their weak ones.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Through analyzing their current work routines and methods, and their preferred ones, independence can be gained by the student. If the student is a visual learner, methods of visual note-taking and other study methods out of class can be taken into consideration and demonstrated for the student. Through introducing different note-taking and out of class techniques, students can find comfort in a routine, and as stated previously, find success. Comfort evokes confidence, which in turn leads to success when studying and learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation is key when helping students. Unmotivated students half heartedly listen to the advice and lessons being taught to them. Positive reinforcement of what a student already understands will contribute to their motivation. Understanding part of a problem is far better than not understanding anything about it. Therefore, when tackling a hard problem, or reaching a mind block, the best thing to do is to take a step back and help the student analyze the situation. Consider all of the 'knowns' and 'unknowns' of the problem at hand, and compare it to formulas and concepts that coincide. Relating the parts the student already knows to the parts the student doesn't quite understand allows them to put it in terms of understandable factors and make their own connections in their mind. This will not only solidify their understanding of the topic, but will also help them push forward and realize the problem is not as arduous as initially thought.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student has difficulty with a particular skill or concept, efforts should be made to help the student put the pieces together themselves, without help. Simply articulating the concept or skill to the student will be helpful, but won't fully help them make the connection. If the connection of what the student already knows is made to the difficult concept, the student can think of it in terms of something familiar and remember it better. Through utilizing real life situations or demonstrating through visual arts, the student can actively be a participant in understanding the problem at hand. I would definitely attempt to relate the problem to an everyday activity, or create a small model that will help them tackle the problem hands-on.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Students that struggle with reading comprehension often simply need guidance. From my experience, when students struggle, it is because they are unsure of what is being asked of them, or they understand the material but are unsure of how to properly summarize the text. Initially, giving the student questions regarding the text, and then charts to fill out as they read often sets a goal for them, and they know what to look out for. Graphic organizers, such as Venn Diagrams and Cause/Effect Charts, are good practice for finding information. Students must also be taught to relate the ideas to situations or ideas they already know. Through making comparisons and drawing upon similarities, they will not only understand the text even better, but will have a solid foundation to summarize a passage. This can be done through different types of thought-provoking questions. Start with the basic "why" question. This will force the student to elaborate on their thought. Once this is successful in the student, provoke further thinking by prompting them with questions such as "What do you think he felt during this?" and " How would you feel if this was to happen to you?" The first question has the student infer about the story, and the second requires the student to draw on prior knowledge.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Students often need to feel comfortable and confident in their work. If a student is not comfortable in the learning environment, their brains are focused on their discomfort, not the learning process. I have found that having the student explain their solutions to problems orally after completing them on paper helps provide a better understanding for the student. For example, in a math problem, they could know how to carry out a step, but they could not explain it. Through having them try to explain it, they will know how to apply it in another situation or problem that may have them use it in a different context. Also, if the student isn't really sure why a step is taken, but they just know it's what they are supposed to do, further insight can be provided. Understanding concepts as well as application is key to truly understanding material.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Relate the subject to something they are well versed in. When related or explained in terms the student does understand, it will invoke less confusion and more motivation for the student.