I graduated from West Chester University of PA in 2014 having received a B.S. in Applied Mathematics and a minor in Physics. I am a software developer in Manhattan, but feel passionate about teaching. I hope to use tutoring as a stepping stone to one day continue my education in a PhD program to become a professor of computer science.
I love math and programming, and hope to help students find their love for these two abstract fields. My philosophy is if I can understand how my student learns, I can help clarify the underlying principles and foundation of the most conceptually important details for a strong understanding in the field. My success is only determined by my student's success.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: West Chester University of Pennsylvania - Bachelors, Industrial Mathematics
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My goal is to help students understand math (or any other field) in whatever way they can conceptualize it correctly. Each student is different in how they think and approach problems, and it is my goal to figure out how they think so I can explain concepts in a way that is familiar and efficient.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
This depends on how deep into a school year/semester they are. Generally I talk and see what their interests are, what their goal is (why they signed up for tutoring) and make some short and long term goals. We can go over past exams and homework so I can see where they are struggling specifically. There is a large difference between tutoring for math, from physics and from computer science. In a two-hour session, my goal is to learn my student and make sure the foundations in math are there. For example, I would not start a calculus student on derivatives when they have foundational holes in algebra.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Ultimately a tutor/teacher/professor should prepare every student to apply learning techniques to become independent. If a student needs help on some concepts, that is where I would come in, but I believe in letting a student struggle a small amount so I don't become a crutch to stand on. For math, reinforcing the most important concepts is crucial for success in the field. Unlike other subjects, math is a pure science, and a perfect science. You have a problem, examine it, follow a set of rules, and eventually end up at the answer. Every problem of a genre will help a student struggle a little less every time, and it helps realizing that most times they will simply see the same problem repeated with different numbers or variables. I will help provide them with the skill sets needed, and the confidence to conquer problems and new subjects on their own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
This is different for each student, in the same way a size 10 shoe won't fit every foot. So depending on the student's interests and personality, the answer would change. What I can promise is that not struggling in school is a whole lot more fun and rewarding than struggling. Hard work in studying not only pays off in the long term, but makes the short term much less stressful as well.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
This is the epitome of what tutors in math can do that teachers sometimes cannot. As a tutor, we know each of our students personally. I don't gear lessons towards a large group of different students, some excelling while others are not, and some not challenged while others are falling behind and everything in-between. I would ask them to try and solve step by step so I can see exactly where they are confused. Physics and computer science concepts are often abstract and tough to wrap your mind around, and it helps having someone who's recently been in their position explaining it. Also, this is why the foundation is so important; think of these subjects as building blocks where without the bottom layer, everything else is impossible. With individual attention, I can see what exactly fundamental piece is missing or misguided, and the rest will usually build up quickly.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I personally had this issue in a few physics subjects as an undergraduate. Every other person in the physics department seemed like a genius, and it was intimidating. Fortunately I had a great tutor, who is now a Ph. D. in physics and an expert in many areas, and he explained things in a way where everything suddenly clicked. Confidence begins with the first problem solved correctly without your tutor's help, and nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing a student of mine succeed in a challenging field without needing my help any longer.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
In most cases, every student's goal is to excel in their courses. Based off their class assignments, tests and homework, I can see where the most attention is needed. Once I know what they are good at, and eliminate what they already have a solid foundation of, that leaves what needs work. So in short, process of elimination to see what needs the most attention, and the upcoming tests/homework helps determine the urgency of topics. Finally, and most importantly, I start by asking the student what they feel they need the most help on.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
If I attempt explaining a concept a few times, and the student does not understand, then I need to explain in a different way. If my students do not do well on an exam, I feel that I failed them and that I am the one who needs to change for them. I will explain and have them explain concepts to me, and we will find out what works and what does not. Very quickly we will find a strategy to enable them to learn.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
In my fields, they require pencil, paper, computer, and calculator. If possible, I do find white boards very helpful.