I'm currently enrolled at Madison Area Technical College for my degree in Mechanical Engineering as I get ready transfer to the ever-popular University of Wisconsin. I've been helping people for a long time with understanding a variety of scientific and mathematical phenomena using my aptitude for understanding different perspectives. Many people who know me think I should be a diplomat. I hope this will serve students well as I become more heavily vested in the world of tutoring than before.
I like to focus on math because it's something that I always had trouble with, as most people. For every math class starting from Pre-algebra through Calculus 3 and beyond, nothing was easy for me. But, I found out other people have just as much or more trouble with math than even I did and that's when I decided that if I got through it, other people should too. I believe that anyone can learn anything with enough hard work; not only in practicing problems, but in exploring the ways to view them. I believe there should be no reason why someone's dedication shouldn't allow them to succeed.
And, this same idea is what allows me to succeed in areas outside of college. Not only do I compose music and design sound effects, but I also create 3D models, do photography, work on research papers and designs with Physicists and Engineers. And now, tutor mathematics.
Madison Area Technical College - Associates, Mechanical Engineering
What is your teaching philosophy?
My philosophy is that anyone can learn any subject with hard work and the right teacher.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Introduce myself and then ask them what they would like us to work on.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
First by showing or explaining that every student has their own learning rate, but that the base-line standard is that every student needs to practice and explore different perspectives until they can do the problem at hand without assistance. I would also ask them to focus on the present more than the future or past; it's more important to be familiar with and have an understanding of the problems you are working on now rather than getting bogged down in proofs.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Well one thing that could comfort students is explaining that no one expects them to be a prodigy of math; it's easier than it looks if you just break problems down into smaller pieces. It’s all about having the patience to learn, and they can learn any continuously harder mathematics by taking small steps at a time. I would also occasionally talk about career options and go on tangents about more advanced math or what they'd learn in future courses or theoretical math, because students like breaks, and usually they like mind-blowing stuff that makes them wonder. I would also explain, if it's apparent they are becoming less motivated that learning math, even algebra opens a lot of doors and it affects most practical fields that exist, so learning these seemingly complicated subjects will allow them to achieve their bigger goals.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I find a different interpretation of the problems and practice it again. I might also just ask them to follow a formula or a problem without them understanding it and then explain how we got from the start of the problem to the results, so that they don't get too slowed down by one intermediate step, and this would give them a better opportunity to answer their question.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Well we don't want to throw reading out the window, but drawing pictures and labeling variables helps a lot, explain the translation of math into the more familiar physical world. I usually draw pictures, even when a problem is so simple I could work out the problem in 10 seconds, because it's good to be in the habit, and if I mess something up it will be easy to determine if it's just a simple algebra mistake or if I'm misinterpreting the problem. It also helps to organize information differently; like instead of one big story problem, it could be broken into blocks or smaller segments, like initial conditions, unknowns, final conditions, etc.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I found that it's important to answer as many questions as I can, even if it might be somewhat off topic or you're just about to go over the answer in a few minutes (only a small explanation would be needed then), because if they don't get an answer there's a chance the question will just keep bugging them and distracting them. Answering their questions also keeps them engaged in the session, and in a sort of subconscious way I think makes them feel more satisfied, which helps keep them motivated.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
What got me excited at times was thinking about the future, where the subject at hand relates to something vastly more interesting or a field of study was going into or a project I was working on. But, what also helped was sometimes going off on tangents with the professor about how this information was used, which also gave me a little break from something I was having difficulty with. I guess an example would be to take something boring like law of cosines and relate it to how the Hubble measures deviations from Euclidean geometry from distortions in the fabric of space, or something more exciting like how geometry changes around a black hole, which also just helps them understand geometry in general a little bit more.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
My strategy would be to ask them to do a similar problem on their own and see how far they get, or how much of it they need my help with. If it's just an simply algebra mistake like forgetting to include a negative sign somewhere, I'll point it out, and if they have no questions about it then we can move on. Another thing I would do is just ask them "do you have any more questions about this?" or "are you confident you can do this on your own?" Essentially we'd just keep going through their questions until they had none left that pertained to the subject.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
After it seems like they are at a good point where they've had concepts explained to them and I've demonstrated some techniques, what I found helped me which I think would help them is if they saw that they correctly answered a similar but still different question on their own. Or, what we would do if we need to move quicker, is move on to the next subject, which most likely relates to or uses previous subjects, and if they understand those well and I ask if they understand and they say yes, I would just point out to them that those concepts they did well with directly relate to the previous concepts they struggled with which. I think this would act as a confidence booster, and that if they could understand that material they knew they understood the previous material as well.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
First thing is to just ask them what they are having trouble understanding, and if it seems unclear, I would then go through a problem in steps, asking them to answer what they can of it; or have me demonstrate how to do it, and if they get stuck on any point then I'd know to stop there and explain it.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I would get to know them more and ask them different types of questions, let them ask me questions and observe how they work through problems and find the similarities between the kinds of things they are struggling with, and get a feel for how quickly they learn in different situations. Knowing these things would allow me to determine what I need to include more or less of, such as more or less pictures, less tangents and off topic comments that might be distracting them, practice with different kinds of problems or focusing and repeating drills with a specific step of a problem, or just discussing the concepts on a larger scale or smaller scale.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Usually a reference book in case I need to look up an equation or just to show them what I am referring to, and then pencils/pens and markers, along with paper, to write and illustrate problems.