A photo of John, a tutor from Old Dominion University

John

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I enjoy tutoring more than any other work I've had, because students come to me with a great desire to do better academically. All teachers need to remember that nobody wants to be left behind in their education. My primary goal is to help students find confidence in private, so they can be more confident in public.

John’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Old Dominion University - Bachelors, Environmental Engineering

Hobbies

Writing Young Adult Science Fiction


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I help students find their own way to make sense of Math, and then I show them how to learn through failure, so they will eventually succeed.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

I ask them questions to get an understanding of what they already know about Math, then I relate that understanding to whatever needs to be learned that day.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

To become an independent learner, students must know how to find answers for themselves. I show them how to read Math books for the thought processes they demonstrate, and then we practice that process in the problems we solve.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The best way to motivate a student is to start with a difficult problem, then break it down to simpler problems that can be solved. Motivation comes as the student succeeds at gradually more difficult problems and especially when he finally solves a problem previously assumed impossible.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

We would look at the more basic skills required and see if that is where the problem exists. For instance, a student will struggle finding the slope of a line if she doesn't know how to plot points on a graph correctly.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

The key to reading comprehension is through increased vocabulary and visualization of the situations described by words. It also helps for the student to do more recreational reading outside of classwork, and then talking about it with an adult who does a lot of reading.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I try to introduce every lesson with a real-world example of how that particular Math is used to understand the real-world in quantitative terms. It is also important for the student to feel comfortable with making mistakes in front of me, so I avoid any signs of disappointment or frustration on my part.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

Excitement comes from seeing that Math is something that has brought about wondrous changes in the world that have improved our lives. Engagement comes when the students realize they can use Math to be a part of those wonders and even contribute to new ones.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I usually start by working example problems as they watch. As the session moves forward, I gradually bring the student in to help, until he is doing all the work without any help and getting it right. I ask numerous questions along the way to measure understanding.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I teach in a way that breaks complicated problems down into simpler problems. Then, when we put it back together and the student sees she can solve a difficult problem, confidence is the natural result.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I notice how much attention the student gives me. I ask a lot of questions about his understanding of Math and even how he feels about his teacher. Most important of all, I check his ability to apply simpler Math methods that build the foundation of whatever Math we are learning that session.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Student needs vary by maturity and previous ability to learn. An advanced student has a good idea of what questions to ask, so I have to stay on my toes and not waste time, but struggling students need to slow the material down and require help with thinking about what questions they should be asking. I adjust my pacing and questioning to the needs of individual students.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

For Math, I use calculators, graphs, pictures of real-world applications, and I encourage students to model Math problems with drawings. If they have a textbook, I highly encourage them to use it during out sessions, so I can help them understand how to use it when there is no teacher or tutor around.