I studied civil engineering at Texas A&M University where I received my Bachelor of Science and Masters of Engineering. Before I left the university to work as a structural engineer in Houston, I tutored for the Texas A&M Athletics Department, helping their student athletes tackle their math and science classes. I find I enjoy teaching and have the ability to simplify problems down to their basic building blocks which can be easily taught and learned. Once those blocks are known, it becomes fairly simple to build them back up to form the overall solution to the problem. I hope to use these skills with my students now as well to help them with their school problems. Once one understands the fundamentals of the problems, they gain confidence in breaking apart and tackling their own future problems.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: The Texas A&M University - Bachelors, Civil Engineering
Graduate Degree: Texas A & M University-College Station - Masters, Civil Engineering
Sailing, cycling, martial arts, camping
Q & A
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I'd get to know them a little bit personally to build a comfortable relationship. Then I'd see where they are having difficulty with the subject, and to what level they understand the subject, so I know where to pick up.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As I mentioned on my profile, once a student has gone through a few problems, and learned the fundamentals needed to solve those problems, they will begin to see opportunities to use those same fundamentals to solve completely different problems. Then it is simply a matter of reminding them of those opportunities until they begin to see them all on their own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
For myself, I found that successful understanding, solving and completion of problems led to a feeling of satisfaction. That is a powerful motivator throughout life, and I plan to point this out to students. What was once an impossible mountain then seems more like a manageable hill, and getting over it much less daunting. Plus, once over that hill, there is free time!
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a skill or concept is a fundamental component of the problems they are attempting to solve, I'd focus on that one skill, independent of the problem. As with most things, even a fundamental skill or concept has its own fundamental building blocks. It's just a matter of breaking the problem down enough to see it plainly in terms one can understand.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Knowledge of history of a subject often helps give that subject meaning and purpose in the grand scheme of things. I might point out how such a subject was an important component of great historical people. Alternatively, I might point out how knowledge in a variety of subjects helps one in future endeavors, no matter where they find themselves in life later, and that a well-educated person has a greater number of tools at hand when it comes to solving future problems in life.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
My best technique is, once I've guided them through several example problems to develop their fundamental tools, to see if they can then take a fresh problem, and on their own, or with very little direction from me, go through the motions of solving it on their own. Once they can do this, their confidence increases drastically, because it means they can go solve problems even when I'm not there.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
As I said elsewhere, I find confidence is built when a student can consistently successfully go through the motions of solving fresh problems on their own, or with little direction or support from me. This usually happens only after several example problems, or after several repetitions. Between repetition and experience, confidence is built.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The first thing to do is to ask the student what they are having trouble with. Depending on their answer, I may ask a few follow up questions to better determine where exactly they are having difficulty, or are uncertain. I may also ask to see what areas the student feels confident, as those strong skills may be useful in learning the weaker ones.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
If it's math or science based, I find diagrams are very helpful. Physical representation of a problem almost always helps one understand a problem better, in terms they can then conceptualize on their own. Once the problem is less abstract, it's much less daunting to tackle. If it's reading or verbal based, I will attempt to find a topic that the student feels good or excited about, and use material from that topic to further develop their fundamental skills.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Overall, basic skills of problem solving go a long way in mastering a set of knowledge or skills. Breaking problems down to understandable fundamental components allows one to "see the forest from above," allowing them to better follow the necessary steps to solve the final problem. The other part of learning is repetition, with slight change in each problem. Repetitively applying the fundamental skills to solve slightly different problems builds confidence and finally ultimate understanding.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would read a passage with the student, and then treat it almost like a book club. I'd ask them what they think about the passage, about the topic, if they have any experience with the topic. I'd relate any history that is relevant to the topic, to give it depth and context. If I have any personal experience with the topic, I'd relate that too. The more directions one approaches a subject from, the better they will understand the passage.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Fundamental breakdown of the problem and then re-build, coupled with repetition and successful solving of slightly different problems, eventually builds a strong understanding of the subject matter and all its variations. For reading and verbal subjects, I find personal relation to those subjects to be a good way of becoming interested and therefore retaining what is read.