Hello! Let me begin by sharing what I believe to be my guiding principle as a teacher. William Butler Yeats once stated that "education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." Mathematics education is not about dumping a bunch of facts, formulas, and theorems into a bucket that you carry around with you. It is about looking for patterns, planning solutions, and solving problems. This requiring more than just knowing a bunch of facts. You have to critically think about the problem, the solution, and the path that you must take to get the answer. There are usually many different paths to get the answer, and that is one of the most confusing parts for most students.
My 13 years experience as a high school mathematics instructor and five experience as a college level instructor have given me insight into how to help each student achieve their goals and lessen the confusion. There are multiple ways to approach real life problems and that is what I believe most mathematics courses attempt to teach us. It is important to understand some basic facts about mathematics, but it equally as important to have a solid foundation in problem solving. My teaching approach is to foster an understanding of problem solving techniques while ensuring that the basic skills are rooted in a solid foundation.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Western Kentucky University - Bachelors, Mathematics and Geography
Graduate Degree: University of the Cumberlands - PHD, Educational Leadership
I enjoy helping others learn, learning new things, watching sports, and woodworking. My favorite past time is playing with my Jack Russell Terrier, Bear.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe all students can learn mathematics if given the opportunity and support structure to promote learning. My goal as a tutor is to promote learning by motivating and encouraging each of my students to be successful. I believe that education is a two-way street and both the teacher/tutor and the student must be willing to work hard to achieve. I love to see the look on a student's face when it clicks and they finally understand a concept.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session, I want to get to know the student and gauge his/her current learning ability and target goals for our future sessions. I enjoy teaching mathematics, but I realize that not every student enjoys learning mathematics. For some, mathematics is difficult because he/she has "just never been good at it." Well, I want to be sure that belief changes quickly. By getting to know some of the student's personal interests and hobbies, we can locate questions/problems that relate to those interests/hobbies and make learning enjoyable again.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A student who wants to be successful and achieve at high levels can do so by making minor changes in the way he/she studies. I believe that everyone can be an independent learner and achieve success through dedication and practice. In order to foster a shared responsibility for learning, I believe it is important to work outside of the classroom/tutor setting. To achieve this, I like to establish checkpoints and have students give me updates on his/her studies periodically. These helps establish accountability and before long the student is an independent learner without the need for routine contact.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I encourage my students to ask questions, keep engaged in the lesson, and look for examples of the material in his/her own life. By providing examples that relate to his/her hobbies and interests, students are more likely to stay engaged and see the importance of learning mathematics.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If a student struggles with a concept, then it is my obligation to find a way to relay the information so that the concept is clear, concise, and fully understood. I am pretty adept at relating most mathematics topics to real life and can definitely approach topics from various methods. In college, I struggled with calculus. It truly was "Greek to me." However, I had a great support system that didn't give up on me and I finally made it through Calculus I. By the time I made it through Calculus III, I believe I had a good grasp on the subject. As a teacher/tutor, I will work diligently to ensure my students understand and learn even the most difficult concepts.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Every person learns material differently. There is no "one size fits all" approach to education and especially not mathematics education. I believe a student needs clear and concise examples and guided practice that reinforces those skills.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
To get a student excited/engaged in mathematics, a teacher must be able to relate to the student's interests and hobbies, provide humor, and definitely encourage the student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
As a mathematics teacher, I have worked with students at all learning levels. Reading comprehension is important in the mathematics classroom because we encounter word problems that need to be deciphered and fully understood before we can set up an equation to solve. The best way to check for understanding in reading is to discuss what has been read. This is the method I used in my classroom to ensure the student comprehended the material.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect. After providing a few examples, it is the student's turn to work problem. This helps me identify areas of concern and address misconceptions and errors the student is making.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Having confidence in mathematics is the most challenging part of the subject. Being confidence requires patience, trust, and understanding. My approach is to explain the material, have the student walk me through problems and encourage him/her. If a student can move from watching someone work a problem to doing it independently, then his/her confidence is boosted.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student's needs by asking questions and observing his/her responses and actions. Students typically tell you what they don't understand if you ask. I listen to my students and strive to help meet their individual needs.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Having taught high school mathematics for 13 years, I've learned that flexibility is the key. You have to be able to modify teaching strategies and approaches to meet the needs of the student. If one method does not work, then you have to be patient and willing to try another approach. Everyone learns in a different manner, and it is important for a tutor to recognize how to approach concepts from a different angle when a student is not comprehending the material.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
During a tutoring session, I will use the student's notes, handouts, and textbook. Depending on the subject, I will also use visual aids and technology to promote the lesson material.