Ever since the 8th grade, I knew that I wanted to be a math tutor. I had thought that I was just an average student with an average level of intelligence. Then, my teacher asked me to say after school for tutoring in math. Not so I could be tutored, but so I could help tutor other students. Apparently, I was doing the best in the class, some of my classmates were struggling, and she needed a hand. I was happy to help, being a bit of a teacher's pet, and discovered a passion for math that I hadn't had before and hasn't left me since. At that point, I assumed it was just math. I didn't figure out that it was teaching math I truly enjoyed until college. Once I figured that out, I decided to become a math tutor for a living.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Whatever you're teaching has to be fun and relevant, but mostly fun. If it isn't fun, it isn't engaging. If it isn't engaging, it isn't going to stick.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Check their understanding of the basics, get to know them, and figure out what they like so I know what to apply to future examples.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Don't just show them the answers to problems, show them how I got to that answer, including how I figure out what to do. Being smart isn't always about knowing all the answers, but rather knowing how to find them.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Positive reinforcement and examples related to what they are passionate about (money, sports, etc.).
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Address that concept in terms of money. I've discovered that talking about something in terms of money sometimes helps them understand.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Break down the problem piece by piece, then turn those pieces into numbers or steps in a problem.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
1) Make it fun 2) Talking in terms of money. Everyone likes money. 3) Avoid talking or PowerPoints, make it a game.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Make it relevant to what they are already passionate about. Passion inspires passion.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Repetition. If a student can get 5 or more problems in a row correct, they should understand it.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
If students are feeling low confidence is a certain area, I like to backtrack and practice any prerequisite skills to get them more comfortable and more confident.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
3 ways (in order of importance) 1) What do they think they need (Where do they feel uncomfortable, even if they are doing well?)? 2) What does their work say they need (Low test scores? Where?)? 3) What does the state say they need (common core)?
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
More problems can be done if the student doesn't understand and less can be done if they get it. I can also find examples and tailor them to student preferences if they need something they understand.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Schoolbook (Good source of problems), scrap paper (and lots of it), pencils, and the internet (can quickly find definitions and provide examples).