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Paula

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I am a graduate of Lehigh University. I received my Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering in 2008. After graduating, I spent several years exploring various career options and gaining experience through different jobs and learning opportunities. In addition to my degree, I completed several courses at other universities to enhance my education and keep up with my studies. These included Probability and Statistics, and Biology in Society at Kutztown University, as well as a number of courses in biology, biochemistry, and veterinary medicine at University College Dublin (UCD) in Ireland where I lived to attend school for several months. I am passionate about mathematics and science, and math continues to be my strongest area. Beginning with tutoring a few of my classmates in high school, I sought out every opportunity to teach others and share my love and passion for learning. As a summer camp counselor, I instructed equestrian lessons to children ages 8 to 16 and learned to engage a group in an interactive, fun learning experience. I also had the opportunity through the equestrian program to individually instruct children with special needs including ADHD and mild autism, as well as serve as an assistant instructor for students with other disabilities (both physical and developmental). As a mother, I have learned to have patience, give encouragement, and I have rediscovered the importance of education. I am currently an education grad student and pre-service teacher I will graduate with a master's degree in secondary education in December, 2017. My goal is to become a full-time math teacher for either middle or high school. I equally enjoy teaching algebra, geometry, and calculus. As a tutor, I seek to ask at least as many questions as I answer to truly engage the student in an interactive learning session that will leave them feeling confident and ambitious. Math is a challenging subject for many students, and having faced challenges in my own studies I can empathize with students who need an extra boost and guidance to help them learn the material in a thorough, lasting way. I am passionate about teaching, and I want to see my students reach their full potential. When I am not tutoring or spending time with my family, I am usually either at the barn riding my horse or relaxing at home knitting.

Paula’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Lehigh University - Bachelors, Chemical Engineering

Hobbies

Horseback riding, crocheting, knitting, cooking/baking, animals, hiking, board games

Tutoring Subjects

10th Grade Math

11th Grade Math

12th Grade Math

8th Grade Math

9th Grade Math

Algebra

Algebra 2

Algebra 3/4

AP Calculus AB

Arithmetic

Calculus

College Algebra

Elementary Algebra

Geometry

Math

Pre-Algebra

Pre-Calculus

Probability

Statistics

Trigonometry


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I strive to instill a lifetime love of learning. I openly share my passion for mathematics while honestly admitting my own shortcomings and past struggles to let my students know I too am human, and we all have strengths and weaknesses. I treat students with dignity and respect, knowing that every individual has great potential. It is up to me as the tutor to find the way to grow that potential. My determination and dedication is contagious, and my students will want to work harder to reach their goals! I offer encouragement and some humor as needed to keep up their spirits, and I make sure they feel valued and understood.

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

After greeting my new student and telling them how glad I am to have the opportunity to work with them, I will ask them to tell me more about the needs and challenges that led to them seeking tutoring. We will discuss specific areas in which they find strengths and weaknesses, and what type of learning approach works best for them (practice problems, visual learner, etc.). I will ask the student what they hope to get out of tutoring and set goals we can work on together.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

When tutoring, I ask the student questions very often to keep them focused and engaged. After explaining a concept, I will ask them to repeat the explanation back to me and we will review any parts they are hesitant about. Through practice problems and repeated review of material covered, I will be sure they truly learn something from every tutoring session. We will talk about ways in which they can apply these learning techniques on their own while in a regular classroom setting or working on homework. I will provide a fun, relaxed atmosphere to learning that will encourage the student to feel free to ask questions and seek answers on their own to continue learning independently.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

When we do well on a homework assignment or exam, it is a rewarding feeling. This gratification is increased by the praise and approval of friends, family, and teachers. When a student is feeling discouraged, I will remind them that every minute spent studying and learning concepts is a way to improve their knowledge and boost performance. I will be sure they know how proud I am of their accomplishments and dedication. If a topic is too challenging and they are losing interest, we will change the focus to a simpler concept, try some practice problems they know they can do, and build back up to the challenge.

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

I will try explaining a concept in several ways and watch for signs that one of those ways "clicks" best with the student. I may ask the student to try to explain the concept to me, as doing so will show me how they think and learn and what part of the material is the most difficult for them. I believe the best approach to learning is to practice, practice, practice....I will use many examples and practice problems in my tutoring approach and mix easy problems with harder ones. By also answering easy questions, they can gain confidence and be reminded they have already learned concepts they once found difficult, therefore being better prepared to tackle the current difficult problems.

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

Reading out loud sometimes can resolve a reading comprehension issue. With word problems in math, it can be easy to skip over an important key point and slowing down to say the words clearly may prevent missing something. I will also teach them to circle or underline key facts, numbers, and units. This approach keeps them focused on finding the important phrases in a problem, and is a practical technique that can be done during exams in a classroom (unlike reading out loud).

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

The most important part of a student-tutor relationship is that the student feels comfortable and relaxed talking to the tutor and asking questions. I want my student to know I am not judging them, and that I truly care about seeing them succeed. I will act as both their peer and mentor, someone they can talk with casually while also learning. We may cover a large amount of material in a tutoring session, but we will also chat and laugh; I want to teach them that learning is fun, not just work.

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

I am so passionate and excited when working on math problems, and I try to make my attitude contagious! If possible, I will find a way to connect the material to a hobby or interest the student has, and use relevant word problems. If they like art, and need to improve work in geometry, I might ask them to doodle something and then we will analyze what geometric shapes and properties can be found in the drawing. By applying the concepts outside of a textbook, they will remember the material much more completely.

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

I flip the roles of tutor and student by asking them to explain the concepts to me. This gives them the chance to test how well they understand the material and shows me where they might still need help. We will go over numerous practice problems as well to really reinforce the concepts.

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

I will praise any small accomplishment to keep reminding the student that they do already know some level of the subject. I will alternate between easier and harder problems within a topic to simultaneously reinforce the knowledge they have while challenging them to push to the next level. Confidence grows with success, so I want to see them succeed at least with some of the practice problems and I will scale the difficulty level accordingly.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I will ask them upfront about how they would express their strengths and weaknesses, and about what teaching techniques or methods seem to work the best for them as an individual. The student may not be able to articulate the answer, but anything they do say will give me clues about how they think and learn. I will watch closely at how they approach problem solving, and how they respond to my questions and answers to further learn about their needs.

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

I am the type of person whose personality reflects those around me. When I work with a student, I start to connect with them and interact in a way that makes them feel like I am a peer. I will listen to them and watch their responses to learn more about what teaching approach will work best, and stick with the most effective methods for the student as an individual, knowing that all students are different.

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

I will keep a list of reference formulas and math properties/theorems on hand, and be prepared to offer a selection of relevant practice problems. Different grade levels will have different expectations about approaches to solve problems or the format of the answer required, so I will also ask the student to show me their own textbook and talk about anything their teacher may have said on that subject. For online teaching, the online platform provided gives every tool that may be needed to work through math problems. In person, I will bring some reference material as well as plenty of scrap paper for both the student and myself to use, and a small whiteboard and calculator.