A photo of Bryan, a tutor from Valencia College

Bryan

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United States Marine Corps Veteran, served 2006-2010.
Finished prerequisite curriculum for Pharmacy school and took PCAT in 2012.
Tutored General & Organic Chemistry at Valencia Community College (East)2013-2014
Returned to school in 2014 to pursue a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering.
Plan to start engineering program at UCF in the Spring.

I first began my helping other students during my Organic Chemistry class. I seemed to understand it more readily than some other students and because of that many of them would ask for help after class and I would happily oblige. That's when I realized I really enjoyed it. That "Awwwhhh!" moment reaction people so often get when they make a conceptual connection is great. I relate to it well, having felt it many times myself. Its very gratifying to be able to help others accomplish the same thing.
As I got deeper into higher level courses, some of which presented me significant challenges, I began to realize how much I could learn, and how important it was for me to develop independent study habits if I was to do well.
I tutored for a year at the college level and as such I really began to think about and evaluate "What effectively helps students to learn?" Since then I have come to believe that tutoring is not simply about providing assistance to getting answers or finishing assignments. Those are important certainly, but they are products of a much deeper comprehensive process which comprises conception, trial, assessment, review, research, practice, and patience. Tutoring, especially with (but not limited to) younger students is about mentoring and providing students not just with the answers, but the ability to produce those answers on their own. This is unfortunately not a great business model, as the point being is to remove the use and need for the product. But that is the goal.
There will always be cases where the need for helping the student close their current gap in knowledge and understanding between what they know, and what they need to know is the greater priority and more simply a matter of providing yes, no, and how to answers. This is valid.
But in most cases, there is a larger need for further development and creation of learning and studying skills versus answers.

Bryan’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Valencia College - Associates, Mechanical Engineering

Hobbies

I have more interests than I can entertain. I love the beach, surfing, volleyball. I love to shoot guns and I'm actually an assistant coach for a youth steel speed shooting team. I love parks, camping anything outdoors really. I'm a big MMA fan and I have been since I was in 8th grade. I fell in love and became obsessed in High school, and I wrestled for 2 years in college after that. I love dogs, and I'm a huge bully breed advocate. I've become involved with a few charities with that. I love reading and learning though. I also enjoy playing pool, bowling, skiing, snowboarding, its a long list if I really thought about it.


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I think it's terribly important to help students understand the "why." To understand why something happens or how that fits in the bigger picture is often helpful for students to develop the logical reasoning they need in order to solve difficult problems. I believe strongly in the need for a strong understanding of the basics or fundamentals. Everything else will build off of that.

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

To begin with, I want to make everyone feel at ease and as comfortable as possible.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

It's important to listen. A tutor should realistically do more listening than speaking. People by nature need to be listened to and understood. Many students are so blocked up by all the thoughts and uncertainties they have in their head, that often by having another person sit with, listen to, and examine a problem with them they figure it out themselves. This builds confidence and problem solving ability in time, and in time they are usually able to reason and think their way through things that they lack the need for anyone to sit there with them and assure them that they’re on the right track.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Students are individuals, and individuals are different and varied. So this can really be different for different people. I think most students to some degree feel disinterested because they don't understand it and you have to work to figure it out. Making that difficulty a little easier and allowing them to make those learning connections oftentimes make them confident, gratified, and curious to know more.

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

As with all things, I think my response needs to be "relative." The student may not be understanding the language or form of communication in which I'm conveying the message. It is possible that I have in some way confused the student or used an explanation that is not understandable to the student. In such a case I would in short start over, perhaps go back through the conceptual information, and approach the explanation from a different angle or perhaps with drawings, analogies, or some alternative form of communication. It's also possible that the student is tired, hungry, saturated, distracted, or under the influence of some other circumstances. If so, then those must be treated with rest, rejuvenation, motivation, etc.

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

Well, in reference to math and science, I struggled with this a lot-- especially earlier-- as I started getting acquainted with difficult high level math and science. My best advice, and similarly what worked for me (and I believe can work for anyone in one way or another), is to slow down your reading to a crawl as your go through the material, translating every passage and word that you don't understand or makes sense, and translate it so that it does. I kind of liken it to transcribing Egyptian hieroglyphics to digestible English. I would sometimes even write out difficult passages word by word into a translated interpretation that I could make sense of.

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

Every student is different, so in fact I think the most important strategy is to be able to mold or cater your abilities to the needs of the particular student. In addition, students in need of tutoring typically need someone to go over things a little more slowly and in depth sometimes, because they've struggled digesting the amount of information they've had thrown at them, and in order for them to understand they just need it a little more personally or slowly fed to them. So I think patience, communication and a firm grasp of the subject is very important, as well as being able to identify how best that student learns most effectively.

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

This is probably one of the most difficult challenges you can be asked of. For numerous reasons, not least of all time being precious/limited for instruction. Your ability to influence them is limited at best, and if they have decided a disinterest in something, this is Oftentimes not within an hourly paid tutor's control to change. That's just the reality of it in my opinion. What can be done, which I believe falls more under the responsibility and control of parents, is for the students to be introduced and take interest in some of the really incredibly neat and cool things that fall into the realm of math, physics, chemistry, and science, and how learning about those things allows them to learn about those interests. Humans are curious creatures by nature, so the key to interest is obtaining that thought, "Hmmm. I wonder how that works?" or "I wonder why such in such does such and such, or accomplishes this?" I think the most magical thing about math and science that is natural for us all to feel is how allegorically, we all live in a room filled with doors. When you start learning about math and science, you suddenly find the ability to start opening some of those doors, and behind those doors are many other room with many other doors, and so learning about those subjects is analogous to exploring entire new worlds. Worlds with lots of doors, of which we can actually find the keys to and explore those places... And isn't that cool?

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

I think the simplest and effective tool is to solve problems. LOTS of them.

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

Start off bit by bit. That's the textbook way we all learn, even through physical activities. Give someone a reasonable challenge and then verify that they've accomplished it. Then give them some more. It should always be a step by step process that starts with basics and builds on those firm foundations.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I personally ask them point blank, "what are your needs?" "What is it that you plan or would like to accomplish?" As best I can, I will help focus those goals into realistic and meaningful accomplishments. Along the way I will do my best to evaluate them as we go, and make whatever constructive suggestions or assessments I can.

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

I listen to them and attempt to adapt my methods to their needs and desires as they've stated or as I believe would be beneficial. We do things as best we can so that the student is as comfortable and motivated as I can make possible.

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

I like using "dry erase boards," with multiple marker colors. I swear by them. I also like to use a lot of stuff off the web. The Internet is probably the best learning resource available, ever. To not take advantage of it is to limit yourself. In fact, you can take almost any college course without a single teacher, with probably ample resources straight off the web. It's a great tool. Again, I like to use a lot of color coding. Most people are visual learners, and even if they aren't, they probably benefit from improvement of visual learning sources. Anything from notecards to equation/formula sheets are always good, and can be done with a little bit of color differentiation to help studying.