I enjoy learning and I've been a tutor for a long time at different types of tutoring venues over the years. I have bachelors degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry and a PhD in chemical engineering. I am a life-long learner. For the purposes of tutoring, my main proficiency is in chemistry, physics, math, Spanish, ACT/SAT prep, and some English. I think that tutoring is not about teaching but about learning. The student needs to be gain interest via examples, questions, and humor in order to become proficient. A combination of written, visual, and visual aids the learning; advancement occurs over several stages, but should end with the student being able to work on problems as independently as possible.
Polytechnic Institute of New York University - Bachelors, Chemical Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - PHD, Chemical Engineering
High School Chemistry
What is your teaching philosophy?
I think it's about learning, not teaching. The student should be interested in what he or she is doing. A good tutor can give examples, clarification, and provide alternatives and encouragement that can help the student to become interested in the material.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First, I ask the student what he or she needs from the tutoring. I prefer to have as much information as possible so that subsequent sessions are more effective. I try to figure out the student's learning style and then balance "teaching," problem solving, correcting, and proficiency.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Moving toward proficiency can be gained by curiosity about the subject, which can be encouraged by asking questions. Subsequently, the tutor can give the student alternatives, such as example problems, books, and websites that can lead to more learning and questions.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Part of motivation comes from improving grades, good examples, and real interest. If a student is not paying attention, then one can ask what's in the way? Most students appreciate learning at some level, even if it's not their favorite subject.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Difficulties can arise from lack of interest or lack of understanding. Good examples and humor can take care of the former, and extended discussions and questions can help with understanding.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I try to ease the burden first by giving them time-saving test-taking strategies. That puts them at ease. Then I tell them the normal goals of reading comprehension: main idea, tone, themes, facts, contrasting, etc.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The first thing is to find out what's needed, find the difficulty (interest or intellectual), and proceed from there.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Again, it's about finding common ground, good examples, encouraging questions, and tracking progress.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
It proceeds in several stages: understand the wording, basic connections, application of the formula to a simple problem, understand why the formula works, be able to explain what he did, and finally, be able to do the problems without help.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence goes with being able to answer questions and explain concepts.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
First I have to ask, and then I need to know what the requirements are (teacher or standardized exam score). Then I assess how best to overcome any difficulties, such as which concepts need reinforcement.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Some students need more encouragement. Some need verbal, written, or visual proof. It's whatever combination works best.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I use books, printouts, the student's notes, my own drawings, and even websites.