# Melinda

Certified Tutor

Undergraduate Degree: University of California-Riverside - Bachelors, Sociology & Mathematics

Sight-seeing, music, math, sci-fi

What is your teaching philosophy?

My overarching philosophy in teaching mathematics is that imparting a thorough understanding of mathematical concepts and relationships is the key to student success. Methodology, implementation, and memorization of formulas and identities are also very important, but should be secondary to a true understanding of the underlying principles. In fact, it often follows that once a student grasps a certain mathematical concept, the need for memorization of methods and formulas is greatly reduced.

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

Typically I try and get a gauge on where a student's level of understanding is, and what topics or concepts they are struggling with. This would not only involve a discussion with the student, but also a few sample questions to help me thoroughly understand why a student is struggling.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

As a student starts to feel more comfortable and confident in their understanding, I coach them in applying reasoning and critical thinking to solve problems independently. I also like to ask my students a lot of questions to engage and include them in their learning.

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

I always try different approaches to teaching a concept. If one does not click for a student, I try another. I also be sure to ask questions to see exactly what a student is not understanding so that I can focus on that part of the concept. This sometimes leads me to find out that there is a foundation concept that the student lacks which I can go back and explain to them in order to help them grasp the newer concept.

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

I think the first step is showing a student that they CAN do math, that they are capable of understanding it. I find my students start getting excited as soon as they realize they can tackle math problems they never thought they could understand before. As a student becomes more and more confident in their ability, I like to discuss with them some of the uses and applications for what they are learning, and I often point my students to articles or videos that show some really neat and interesting things about mathematics that students rarely get to learn about in class.

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

Once I identify what areas a student needs help in, I focus on one concept at a time and take it back to its basics to ensure there are no gaps in the student's understanding. I typically give a detailed explanation of the concept and any techniques involved, using visual aids such as diagrams and drawings whenever possible. I then demonstrate a few example problems myself, and have the student try their hand at working through similar problems with guidance.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I always try to be as encouraging as possible and remind my students of the gains and progress they have made and how much they are capable of. For students who don't find math interesting, I try and relate it to a topic, field of study, or career they may be interested in, and direct them to articles or videos which may help them to realize the importance, usefulness, and beauty of mathematics.

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

I find many students struggle with word problems, and with those students I am sure to do a lot of practice. I teach them first to break a word problem down into chunks of information. I then have them think critically about what the question is, and about what techniques or formulas they can use to solve it, given the information presented in the problem.

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

In order to be sure a student is understanding and following me, I often ask them questions during my explanation. Before considering a student to have mastered a particular topic, I make sure that they can approach and answer questions correctly on their own.

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

I like to remind my students of their accomplishments and progress thus far, and encourage them as they tackle new material. I ensure all of my students that they are capable of understanding the material and being good at math, and am honest with them about what they need to do to improve (focus and practice, for example) so that they know it is something they can achieve, as well as how much potential they have.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I always start by opening a dialogue with the student and asking them what areas they feel they need help with. I also then ask them about the topics they feel they grasp well and are good at. This gives me an idea of what foundations the student has to work with and what areas need building up. I also often have students show me past tests or assignments that they struggled with to get a better picture of what kinds of questions they have a hard time on. Even with students who I have been seeing on a long-term basis, I always start a session by asking them if there is anything in particular they'd like to go over that day.

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

Every student has their own learning style, so I always try to use the best strategy for a given student. Some students do very well with verbal explanations, while others learn best through visual diagrams or hands-on approaches. I also find that some students usually only need some quick clarification on topics, while others need thorough explanations and need to over a concept a few times to fully understand it. I am always trying to stay in tune to what a student's needs are and how they are responding to what I'm teaching them.

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

If a student is currently attending a class or course I will have them bring in their notes, text book, and any assignments so that I can base our lessons on what they need to learn to succeed in their class. As needed I will supplement our lessons from my own workbooks, as well as several free online worksheet resources that I utilize. I use plenty of pens, pencils and paper, and have my student take notes in their own notebooks as well as keep any notes I have written out for them myself. For younger students I have hands-on resources I like to use, including small blocks for counting, and an abacus. I also occasionally use online resources, such as guides to base lessons on, games to engage younger kids, and question generators for additional practice on a topic.