I love the subject of physics and think that students will love it too as long as they see the logic of it. I think that I can ask the right questions of a student that will lead them in the right direction.
I studied physics at Mary Baldwin College and earned a BA in physics. I received a Masters of Science in physics at the University of Virginia.
I have taught physics at the high school level for more than twenty years. I have taught all the different levels of physics from the Calculus based physics to conceptual physics. I feel like having taught for so long, I have a good idea where students go wrong and hope to be able to lead them in the right directions.
I am so happy to tutor anyone through the first year of college in physics. I believe that I can help the student find the right way to approach physics problems. One can read and understand the chapter and still not be clear on how to approach the problem solving part of physics. I think that for a student having a tutor guide them on how to solve those problems will really increase their enjoyment and confidence in physics.
I do enjoy other activities than teaching physics. I like walking my dog. I like to knit and read.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I really love physics and the physics way of looking at the natural world. I believe that if I share that way of looking at the world with students, they will also find the study of physics worthwhile and fun.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would like to find out where the student is in their study of physics. I would try to assess what topics they need to study and at what level. I would ask what they hope to accomplish in the tutoring sessions.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I believe that I can help a student become an independent learner by asking them leading questions. Quickly they will be able to identify what is important and how to look at problems they are asked to solve.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think I am lucky to teach physics because there are so many interesting real world examples that can catch a person's interest. By asking the student about their interests, I hope to be able to match the examples to their interests.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would try to assess where they are having difficulty with the concept and then give them the ways to see their way through this. For example, if the problem is about forces, students should start with a free body diagram. Often students skip this step and it will show them clearly how to add up the forces.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
One difficulty with the study of physics is that physics uses common words like "work" and "force" but in a very specific way. So I would have students go over the words in a problem carefully making sure they understand the "physics meaning".
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I think that I have had good success with students when I make sure that they realize I am not judging them. Everyone makes mistakes and the best way to learn physics is to make mistakes and then correct them.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Physics gives a student a different way of looking at the world. It is a very interesting way of looking at the world. I find that once students realize that then, they find that they are engaged in the subject and the difficulties become easier to overcome.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I have lots of problems to use with students so that once we have gone over the topic carefully and gone over some practice problems, I would have the student answer some on their own.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
A student will become confident in physics once they have practiced working problems and feel that they can do the problems on their own. Understanding the chapters is not enough; one has to be able to apply that knowledge by practicing working problems. In that practice, the student gains a new way of approaching the subject.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I would first talk to the student and ask them what their goals were. After that, I would assess where they were in their study of physics by asking some questions.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I have lots of examples and different ways of looking at the material. I would try to find the way that works best for the student. I feel that feedback from the student would be most important for this.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I would use lists of equations and problem sets. I also would have my physics books available.