Welcome to my varsity profile. Here is a short bio.
I was born overseas and therefore obtained my B.S. degree in chemistry from the Universidad Central de Venezuela, a top college in my native land. Then I moved and worked in a pharmaceutical company for just a few months in the country of Spain. Right after my short experience in industry I came to the states and joined graduate school at Baylor University, where I got my Ph.D. degree in chemistry as well. Throughout my journey, so many years associated to the academic world, there were many changes but there was always one constant present and this was tutoring.
I have been a tutor of chemistry ever since I stepped out of high school. I have tutor friends, friend's kids, and perfect strangers and my experience has always been so positive that it makes me enjoy helping others. For a couple of years while I was in graduate school I performed as a tutor for athletes at Baylor which was really great.
Nowadays, I am a college instructor of chemistry at a local junior college so I feel fairly positive that I could help you achieve your goals as far as your chemistry class goes. I possess several of the most popular general chemistry and introductory chemistry textbooks and I can teach in both English and Spanish languages so I can accommodate to your needs if you wish so.
I hope this info can fit your needs and hopefully we can meet soon!
Universidad Central de Venezuela - Bachelors, Chemistry
Baylor University - PhD, Chemistry
What is your teaching philosophy?
The goal of any student pursuing an education is to learn, and the role of every educator must be to facilitate the learning process for each student. These are the two main pillars on which my teaching philosophy is built. As a professor, I like to ensure that my students can have as many tools as they might require in order to successfully understand chemistry, and indeed I strive for that every semester. I am very much a believer of the classic teaching methods. Nevertheless, if I have to define my teaching in a few words, I would say that my classes are very dynamic and rather progressive. They are dynamic because it takes a great deal of effort to keep the students focused on a science-related topic for more than sixty minutes. Therefore, my classes are filled with several connections between chemistry and daily life.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Typically, I will request a copy of the class' syllabus. I set my rules and expectations, and then I establish a basic understanding of my teaching dynamics. Then I ask and listen to their expectations with the tutoring sessions. Lastly, I accommodate my class to their needs.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I try to make my explanations very systematic, in a way to always start approaching a problem by indicating step #1, #2, #3, and final. Eventually this teaches the students to always follow an "organized scheme" or "recipe" when approaching a particular kind of problem. This should not be confused with acting on "automatic" mode; in fact, I emphasize the need of not acting on "auto-mode." But this is good because it provides the student with a methodic procedure for the moments where they are not feeling very confident while solving their class assignments; in other words, it provides a method for them to rely on when they are not sure of what they are doing.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I like to relate chemistry to the everyday lives of my students; after all, chemistry IS found in every corner of our lives, but we are just not used to looking at life from that perspective. Even in sports, or visual arts, or whatever it is that the students are passionate for, I like to dig in and find their interests. Some students are more visual, and others are more prone to reading and memorizing. In this case, I tend to put together a "recipe" for them to follow through as they practice. Sometimes they understand better the physical meaning of a chemical scenario once they have repeated a calculation a number of times.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Typically, those students are more "visual," and so I tend to break the concepts down to the most basic interpretation and try to build up with simple demonstrations. The term "baby steps" applies fairly well in this case.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Building a "step-by-step" recipe when solving a problem seems to work fairly well for non-science majors. In the case of science majors, they tend to rely on their calculus and algebra knowledge fairly often, so I use that.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Positive feedback is always important, regardless of how small of a task they have accomplished. Continuous encouragement and motivation are key in these scenarios. It is always important for them to feel that we trust them and that we are on their side.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
A brief survey at the beginning of the course helps to foresee a possible weakness. After that point, every session involves a continuous assessment. This is easy to make, because in chemistry every lecture is closely interconnected with the next one, and therefore the least solid skills are easily identifiable on a continuous basis.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
PowerPoint slides and a whiteboard are my main tools. Sometimes I will also have animations provided by some of the publishers, which might help those more "visual" students. Most of the time my tutoring sessions will be teaching students how to solve chemistry problems and answer their questions and concerns directly, without a "lecture" on that topic (unless otherwise requested).
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Providing videos and animations can change the tone of the session. Sometimes these might allow for some funny comments or moments that might help them wake up. I like them to regard me as approachable, as opposed to as a boring guy.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Once again, I must rely on animations that might depict the scenario they are struggling with. Or perhaps a different way to deal with the numbers as they work on those "dreaded" calculations.