I'm a total fan of Stanford's d.school, where the curriculum is all about the "design thinking" framework for creative problem solving pioneered by the international design firm IDEO. While typically used in startups to develop new innovations, I've found it extremely handy in tutoring. Every student is different and so are their difficulties, so a finite set of ways to present a concept or tackle a difficulty is potentially limiting. In my experience, it's much more effective to use an adaptive framework like design thinking to identify the root of students' issues and find/develop a solution that fits their needs.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Louisiana at Lafayette - Current Undergrad, Computer Science
hiking, playing in the snow/rain, attending almost any type of performance, software design/development, tech trends, experience design, Toastmasters, Internet Addiction Disorder advocacy
10th Grade Math
11th Grade Math
12th Grade Math
6th Grade Math
7th Grade Math
8th Grade Math
9th Grade Math
College Computer Science
Elementary School Math
High School Computer Science
IB Computer Science
IB Computer Science HL
IB Computer Science SL
Mathematical Foundations for Computer Science
Technology and Computer Science
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Everyone's able to learn something they consider hard, but it sometimes isn't enough to want or try to learn it. It's the teacher's job to package concepts in a way that works with and for the student.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
It's important that students feel comfortable when with me to minimize the chance of negative feelings getting associated with myself or the subjects we're working on. With that in mind, at the start of the first session, I like to get to know a little bit about the student as a person and share a bit about myself. I follow that with how I start every other session: asking how the student is feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally. I then ask if there's any questions they have for me or anything they'd like to get off their chest. I may describe my tutoring style a little bit, but find that's usually only necessary for students who feel anxious in the face of uncertainty. I always give students permission to request a change in how I approach them, as well as permission to say things they think are stupid, for the sake of developing a more comfortable rapport. Feeling comfortable saying stupid things is incredibly helpful when working with a student to find a creative way to help them understand something and is something I reinforce by verbally granting myself the same permission.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My methods are based on concepts that take advantage of the ways our minds naturally work when learning. Not only do I help students establish habits around studying/learning, but I also teach memory tricks, basic psychological principles that help drive learning & perseverance, and how to develop their own abstract mental frameworks for understanding complex concepts. I ask students the type of questions they need to ask themselves when analyzing a problem, which gives them an example to learn from. I also discuss things that help them get a better feel for how their mind works so that I can show them how to take advantage of their own mental nuances.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Lots of patience, empathy, and positive affirmation. Everyone, myself included, has felt unmotivated to learn this or that concept at some point in time. Sometimes we need a push, sometimes we need a rest, and sometimes we just need to be heard. It's my job to help students recognize what they need, when they need it, and how to ask for it.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I look for the root of their difficulty, starting with underlying skills/concepts they do know and are comfortable with. We slowly work our way up from there by working through a problem together, stopping at each point that trips them up to find the root of the snag. Once all the fundamental glitches are found, we repeat the process for each of them. When the core issues have been revealed, I pick apart their difficulty with each by asking them questions related to how they're thinking when practicing each and go from there, teaching/reteaching those core concepts in my usual ways.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Every subject can be related to our everyday life and interests in some way. They may not all be impactful or help us to improve ourselves in whatever ways they relate to us, but they can at least give us an interesting new lens through which to view our world. The trick to finding those ways is having expertise in applying the concepts underlying a subject and knowing a little bit about the student. As long as I get to know my students on a personal level and am teaching subjects I'm an expert in, I can find new ways to view things to share with them. Worst-case scenario: I'll bribe them with healthy treats they enjoy.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I like to create problems that require a conceptual understanding of the material to solve. I try to make them harder than what the student can handle so they can practice developing persistence in their problem solving.