I'm a current student at the University of Washington in Seattle, majoring in Mathematics and Russian. I love Mathematics for the great applicability! I use the ideas and logical processes to think about the structure of the universe and my immediate surroundings on a daily basis. I believe learning math helps my mind to be the best it can! I am currently enrolled in Modern Algebra and Topology courses.
I use these skills toward my other great interest - literature and languages. I took French for three years in high school and was amazed at how much more of the world it opened up for me, thus I am now in my second year of learning German and Russian. I have settled on Russian for my second major due to its beautiful structures and flexibility! I also dearly love Russian literature, and I hope to study it more in-depth in the future.
As for tutoring: Math is the epitome of human existence and culture. It is the almighty subject of subjects. It is vast, mysterious, and empowering. Everyone has trouble with it. I would love to help you on your path with the small section of it I know!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Washington - Current Undergrad, Mathematics - Comprehensive
SAT Verbal: 700
AP Calculus AB: 5
Mathematics! Russian, German, French and English languages.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
There is always a better explanation, and nothing is unlearnable. Teachers should, above all else, work to bring the curiosities of the world closer to the students.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Ask them about their interests or favorite subjects and then try to help them find the parts they like about their least favorite (or least comfortable) subjects. I always try to find a proper starting point, just before the precipice of uncertainty.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
When the student and I are working through a new idea, I try to present the information through a series of small puzzles that the student could solve on their own with the assistance of hints. Learning a new topic is often just the struggle of figuring out how to break it into smaller pieces. I help show the student the steps and the process, not the answer.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I always attempt to tie the current topic to a past topic they feel comfortable with and a future topic for them to see an interesting application or motivation. No math topic exists in a vacuum, and seeing its connections in the grand scheme can help to maintain interest.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Return to a previous topic the student is comfortable with, and slowly build back up, but in a varied manner. There is always another way to explain something, and the explanation that works for the student is out there somewhere. It just requires some patience and a trial or two.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would suggest that reading often requires taking a step back and making an educated guess about what the author might be trying to say. With each guess, we would look at various parts of the text and try to find support or counters to our claim. If the counters add up too high, we would make another guess, but this time, more educated. With each pass over the text, each difficult sentence is broken down and compared to the sentences on either side. Once one paragraph feels comfortable, we move on to the next and do not hesitate to return to the first paragraph to see how each one ties in.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Figure out first what they're good at! Every new topic needs a strong foundation. Even if a student claims to be okay with a topic, I always make a few checks to ensure there aren't any issues that will come up later. I always try to be kind and patient and make sure the student knows all mistakes are welcome and appreciated.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Illuminate connections! All math topics are connected, and some of the more advanced ones are extremely fascinating. But most students aren't exposed to them in everyday schoolwork. I always try to present some more advanced ideas that tie into the current topics so that students have some motivation. There is something in math for everybody, and it can be connected to all other subjects just as well. I love reading, writing, learning foreign languages, playing musical instruments, and have taken many science classes, so whatever the student's interest may be, I can find some connection.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
If I start to feel that a student has a working ability to solve a new topic, I have them go through a few problems while explaining their process and justifying each step. This helps the student cement these new techniques, and ensures that they're making decisions on a sound basis.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Before we being working on new material, I always try to celebrate whatever topics they're already comfortable with and show them how those skills will be very useful in their upcoming learning. Each new topic is taken slowly; each new step is manageable so that the student never feels overwhelmed.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I frequently run diagnostics to test student comfort with the material. This may include presenting them with a problem or a composition of problems, or simply asking them how they feel about it. If the answer is enthusiastic and they seem to be flying through their exercises, I know it is time to move forward. If they don't seem as comfortable, or seem hesitant, I return to building their confidence and starting from somewhere strong. I always pay attention to face/body language, and when in doubt, I explain something in another way and build excitement.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I can move as quickly as the student can. If the student seems comfortable, I then pose tougher and tougher compositions of problems until I am certain they are capable in the subject. If, however, they are not as comfortable, I slow down dramatically and try to find the gaps in understanding, however small they may be. This is done through questioning and progressively more difficult problems (starting from somewhere comfortable).
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I always bring lots of paper and pens! I have a very loved and trusted TI-89 calculator that I use to confirm answers. I also bring a sheet of important formulas to ensure the student has them all written down properly. I may also bring a laptop with fun/interesting math programs on it, mostly used to build interest. For instance, I have pari-GP installed, and it is always fascinating to see rapid factorization of decently sized primes.