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Tom

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I get it. School can be hard. It gets frustrating when you are working your hardest, trying to learn and it's just not clicking for you. You might have great teachers who are able to help you and guide you through it, but then again, you may not. Sometimes you just need a place to come and ask the questions you can't ask in class, and to trust that the person on the other end will be there to answer your questions and help you. I am that person!

I've been a classroom teacher since 1994, teaching high school math and physics. I've taught the same subjects at an online school since 2000. I've worked with students across the country and around the world. I'm National Board Certified, the highest level of professional certification a teacher can achieve in the US.

But just knowing math isn't enough for a tutor. I get the struggle, and I get the fear you may have about asking for help. So we will get to know each other before we dive into the help you need. I am curious to know more about your school setting, how you learn, and what is keeping you from learning the way you want to. When we are ready to get to work, I will know enough about you, and I hope, you will know enough about me, that we can trust one another and work together to get you to where you want to be. If you are willing to ask your questions, I will show you how to answer them.

I look forward to meeting you and to helping you achieve your goals at school!

Tom’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Washington - Bachelors, Computer Science

Graduate Degree: Western Washington University - Masters, Secondary Math Education

Test Scores

SAT Math: 740

GRE Quantitative: 800

Hobbies

Math and physics.


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe in being your guide. You are the learner, and I am here to help you. I am convinced that everyone CAN learn, and those that are most willing to work at it, ask questions, and put in the time necessary, will thrive. With confidence and skill, there is nothing keeping you from greatness.

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

The first thing we will do is talk about you - your school, your interests, your family, your studies, and what your struggles are in school. I will also share some of my experiences and stories so that you understand that I am real and here to help you.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

The key is being willing to struggle. That means that you won't 'get' everything the first time. But through learning to ask good questions, trying new ideas, even if you make mistakes, you will gain the confidence you need to be able to do this on your own.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

We need to make small gains before we make the big gains. Motivation grows from success. Even if the successes are small, they all build toward forward momentum and that confidence we all seek.

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

I would get to the bottom of the difficulty. Often, the trouble is very small and easily adjusted. Once we get that small item fixed, we should be able to move forward with confidence.

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

We will learn to look for key visual cues in reading. Key words, common phrases, or important symbols in math, all lead to a stronger sense of reading comprehension.

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

Connection and trust. Once a student trusts that I am his/her advocate, we begin to work as a team and that's when the fun begins!

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

I think it really helps to see the value of learning a particular topic. That's where a great teacher shines. It's never fun to struggle, but if we can turn those struggles into successes, then we can change the mindset toward growth.

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

A combination of practice questions to check for understanding and asking the student to explain his/her thought process in solving the problems.

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

Success! The more I can convince a student that s/he has the ability to be successful, the easier it is to build confidence. Often it's just a matter of collecting small successes that lead to big ones.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I ask important probing questions. I ask about the classroom/school experience, what happens at home, how one feels about the subject, and what is keeping the student from excelling. From that picture, I can proceed with giving the guidance necessary to lead to success.

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

It's what successful teachers do. I read the responses, both in writing and in language, and make the necessary adjustments on the fly as we work together.

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

It really depends on the student. Often, paper and pencil is all we will need, though a calculator also comes in handy. If necessary, a shared whiteboard or computer screen allows me to show students how each step could look. If we need to dive really deep, I use existing web sites, videos, or practice problem sets to deepen understanding.