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I have been tutoring for more than 25 years. I am confident most children can succeed in math. I love to work with students; helping them work through the problems and get the answers themselves, and watch their confidence grow as they succeed. It is my goal to give students the tools they need to succeed on their own, basically working myself out a job. I am compassionate, cheerful and respectful with each student.

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Merry’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Bethel College-Mishawaka - Bachelors, Secondary Education (math, science)


reading, baking, hiking

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I feel it is my job to give students the tools needed to be successful in the classroom. Sometimes I am an interpreter, helping the student understand what was said, and what is asked of them. Other times I fill in the gaps of the student's knowledge on the subject. I always try to show and tell what I mean, both the facts and the steps needed to succeed.

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

I generally like to help the student with their homework. I can see how a student arrives at an answer, and what areas the student needs help. This way we are completing homework while teaching the student.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I give step-by-step directions to complete a given problem, where to find formulas, and also answer their specific questions. These are most of the tools needed for the student to complete their work and learn on their own.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Motivating students will vary for each individual. Some students need plenty of affirmation, which I freely give. Some students need to focus on a goal, to which I will point them. Some just need a listening ear, which I can give.

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

While working with students, I am patient. Each student understands concepts differently. I will patiently reword instructions or redo/solve problems as many times as needed until the student feels they understand the concept.

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

I will patiently help them read the problem, sounding out the difficult words. Then I will discuss what is the meaning of those words and what are they asking of the student.

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

I like to watch and interact with the student while they complete their homework, correcting and guiding the student as needed. This gives the student a feeling of accomplishment and confidence over mastering a concept.

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

I interact with the student greatly, asking probing questions that are easy to answer if the concept is known, but a struggle if the student needs more work. It becomes obvious to both the student and me when more practice or instruction is needed.

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

Success builds confidence. I give encouragement as the student makes good progress, and cheer as they complete questions correctly. The student will feel less stress as they work their way through the lesson, learning step by step, gaining confidence along the way. I always see the students end a session with a big smile, for they know they now have a handle on the new concept. They have confidence!

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

At the beginning of a session, I will have them start a problem, and ask them to work through it. As the student struggles/progresses, I will ask probing questions that give me clues to their understanding and needs. Because I have worked with students for almost 30 years, it has become second nature for me to evaluate as we work together. It is what gives me direction in the session.

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

I come to the session with no real agenda, other than to help the student understand the concept they bring to me. We will begin with a problem, and see how well the student can accomplish that problem. If they are successful, we will move on to the next problem. If we come across a problem which seems difficult for the student, we will spend time getting it done together, then have the student do a similar problem so I can see if the student was able to master that concept. If not, we'll discuss what the hang-up might be, and then do another similar problem. I am patient enough to work with the student, continually adjusting my communication until I have learned their math "language," or how they speak and understand math. Eventually all students are able to complete their work and be successful.

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

When we meet face-to-face, I have scratch paper to use as my whiteboard. I expect the student to have their textbook and/or their homework sheet, their calculator, along with paper and pencil. I don't usually bring along extra problems or paperwork. I will create a problem for the student to solve, if I feel additional practice is needed. Otherwise, my goal is to complete their homework successfully within the hour we are to meet.

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

I would walk with them as we go through this new subject, showing them all they need to know, and holding their hand (so to speak) as they try the new procedure(s) on their own. As they succeed, they will start to relax, and soon they will gain enough confidence to face the subject with excitement, knowing they have strength enough to do this on their own.

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