I earned my PhD in physics (New York University) and work in nanotechnology research and development. I worked as a teaching assistant throughout my graduate school years (which there were seven of!), also taking on a number of private tutoring students during that time. My teaching experience has been in physics and in several areas of mathematics, from algebra through calculus. I've also tutored my own children successfully through math and physics over the years.
I enjoy teaching these subjects because students can be helped to excel in them by learning to think in a quantitative way. This skill is important for life in our technological society.
The best way to teach goes beyond "picking the right formula to use." Mastery of this type of subject matter comes from being able to ask "what is it I'm trying to accomplish by asking this question? What is the item - that can be quantified - that I need to extract from the problem material at hand?" Then the formula becomes a tool to aid in turning the data into a solution.
Undergraduate Degree: Stony Brook University - Bachelors, Physics
Graduate Degree: New York University - PHD, Physics
My wife and I like to spend time with people, which we do a lot. I do like quiet times by myself, too, especially to read and learn new things. This year I started doing inline skating!
What is your teaching philosophy?
I prefer what is called the Socratic Method, which is based on questioning the student. We ask "What is this problem trying to accomplish?," and then "Which of the concepts and rules you are learning now applies to this problem?" Once the meaning and purpose is understood, the rest comes through the mechanics of practice.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would ask questions to find out the student's challenge areas. I will typically try different ways of explaining the same solution, to see which one "clicks" with them.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
This comes from being able to frame questions in a way specific enough to pursue a concrete solution path. It is like figuring out how to word your "Google" search so that the right hit is on the first page.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
For each work session, I set goals reasonable enough in size that each experience ends with a victory.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
First, there is always more than one way to approach a problem - try different ways. Second, question if there is something missing from an earlier stage of coursework - perhaps the foundation is missing something.