After high school, I attended the Community College of Allegheny County and am soon transferring to the University of Pittsburgh to finish a degree in Statistics. I currently work as a self-taught computer programmer, and am using the same love of learning that gave me this job to help other students. In 2009, I began tutoring three students who were failing their Honors Chemistry class at the end of the first quarter. By the end of the year, two had B's and one had a C. The pride of that success has kept me tutoring for more than 7 years.
Giving motivated students the assistance they need to succeed is my biggest passion.
Undergraduate Degree: Community College of Allegheny County - Associates, Science/Mathematics
Programming, Woodworking, Bicycling, Geocaching
College Computer Science
High School Business
High School Chemistry
High School Computer Science
High School Economics
High School Physics
Middle School Science
Technology and Coding
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A typical first session involves running through a series of fundamental problems. If the current trouble is because the student didn’t understand something 2 weeks ago, we know exactly where to start. If the trouble is with more recent lessons, then the student has built confidence in their ability.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Assessing a student’s understanding is critical – getting confused in the next lesson because you didn’t understand this one is frustrating and disheartening. Most textbooks provide excellent chapter objectives and knowledge-check questions to practice and verify a lesson. If those aren’t available, I prepare a set for the student before the session.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
If a student needs to build confidence in a subject, I give them questions I know they can answer that are still relevant and challenging. The best way to convince someone they know what they’re doing is to show them.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I typically bring practice questions I’ve prepared, a textbook for the subject if the student doesn’t have one, and any relevant tools (paper and pencil, calculator, computer, etc.).
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student is having difficulty with a skill or concept, I try a new approach, and keep trying new approaches until they get it. Everyone has a different learning style that works best for them; trying the wrong style over and over just frustrates the student.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Evaluating a student’s needs starts with first contact and never ends. Most students or parents have a decent idea of where the problem is, or where it began, which can be an excellent starting place. Developing a lasting relationship with the student gives me the opportunity to monitor their understanding through our own sessions and classroom instructor feedback.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
No two students are alike, so no two students receive the same tutoring. Some students need help with concepts, some students need help with confidence, and some students just need help succeeding in the school environment. A tutoring session focuses on what will help the student succeed.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I’m not teaching the student a subject, I’m teaching the student how to learn. If the student is successful while I’m tutoring them, and struggles while I’m not, I haven’t done my job. The most important goal of tutoring is giving the student the skills and confidence to master any subject on their own.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
To help a student become an independent learner, I will make sure they are comfortable using the resources available to them, and avoid encouraging reliance on anyone, myself included. Common resources are the examples in their textbook, worksheets, instructional websites, and example problems that have been worked out step by step.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
When first working with a student, I have had the most success starting with a short conversation about where they think the problem is, followed by quickly working through the fundamentals and up to their current problem. Oftentimes, working through the fundamentals finds the missing piece that was passed up weeks ago, and just starting to cause problems now. Even if this is not the case, it builds confidence in the student and gives me insight into their learning style.