I'm 24 years old with two Bachelors degrees from OSU, one in Physics, the other in Mathematics. I tutored high school to college level math at Clackamas Community College for a year, and have done private tutoring since. I have a lot of experience teaching people with vastly different learning styles, and enjoy helping people learn and understand new information.
My teaching focus is primarily on helping the student gain a deep understanding of the material as well as an understanding of how to think about and approach new information or problems in the future.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Oregon State University - Bachelors, Physics and Mathematics (two separate degrees)
Reading, Writing, Video Games, Camping/Hiking, Cooking
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy for teaching is to work with the student to understand where they're having difficulties, and ask thought provoking questions to help them understand the material and all of its implications, and not just memorize how it works in any specific situation. A primary focus is getting students to intuitively understand the material and understand how to think about future material.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Talk with them to get to know their personality, learning style, confidence levels, and how they most appreciate feedback or instruction. Then ask them what they feel are the pertinent problems they have with the subject, followed by watching them work through several problems to gauge for myself what I think the potential problems are. Finally, work with the student to craft a workable plan towards understanding the material and succeeding in class.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A large part of what I focus on is how to think about and approach a problem, not just how to solve it. One of the most important things a tutor can teach isn't the direct material, but an understanding of how to break down a problem into what the question's asking you to do, what information you're given, what methods you know to solve the problem, and how to break the solution up into many small accomplishable steps.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
The first part to helping a student stay motivated is to figure out why they're not motivated. Are they overwhelmed? Have they given up or think it's too difficult for them to accomplish? Are they not interested? A tutor’s response must be tailored to the why. If they're feeling overwhelmed, break the problem or information up into very small steps and go through them slowly, having them master each one. In this way they won't be dealing with lots of information at once, just small easily understood pieces that they can then see make up the whole. If they think it's too complex for them or they've given up, make simple examples that they can do that illustrate what they're trying to learn to show them that they can do it, combined with positive reinforcement and encouragement.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Break the skill or concept up into smaller components or examples and have them work on those to pinpoint exactly where the student is having the difficulties. Then spend more time helping them on that, working with them and going through it step by step. If that didn't work, ask them to describe the skill or concept so I know not just how they work through it, but how they think about it and mentally approach it, and tailor my response to help them understand what's wrong and right about how they're approaching it.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would have them read about a concept in the book in small sections, and then for each section, write up or verbally describe what they think the section is saying or what it means. When I think they understand that section, I would have them move onto the next section. Eventually, they would understand the full material, having it written out or described in their own words, and would also have a framework for learning or understanding what other confusing book sections mean.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I have found that initially talking with them to get their input on what they're comfortable with, what style of teaching they prefer, and if there's anything specific they've found to work well in the past. After that, watching the student work through problems of various difficulty to get an understanding of how comfortable they are with various problem solving methods, shortcuts, and concepts. Finally, discussing with the student what they feel they need the most help on, whether that conceptual help, or algebraic help, or anything else.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I've had much success with breaking the subject matter up into smaller and easier to complete and understand tasks or concepts. This helps students because they get to complete and succeed at the tasks; engendering a sense of accomplishment instead of feelings of frustration at trying to understand giant blocks of information.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To be sure a student understands the material, I would create test questions that combined concepts or presented them in ways different that the book did. The only way to answer the questions properly is to understand the info, and if the student can't answer, then we know exactly where the misunderstanding is.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I try to build a sense of accomplishment and advancement by working small steps that allow the student to continually succeed at solving problems and understanding the material.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I talk with the student and watch them work through several problems when I first meet up with them. This allows me to get a grasp of how the student feels as well as see what they're struggling with.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I adapt my tutoring to the student's needs by assessing the students learning style and knowledge base in that subject, and then custom creating examples and problems for that student's particulate needs and abilities.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
For the most part I try to only use the material that the student has, as that's what they're going to be able to study from the rest of the time. I will however create problems and examples for them to work through or see. There are also free online resources that I might recommend depending on the situation and subject.