"My goal is to help you grow." As a tutor, no outcome is better than leaving that student with a sense of confidence that they can "do it" on their own. My job as a tutor is therefore to put myself out of a job. Whether we're conducting some side-by-side pair computer programming, or discussing high level concepts in object-oriented software design, or reviewing the formulaic steps to solve the quadratic equation, we seek the "A-ha!" moment where the student achieves a breakthrough in his or her thinking about the subject matter, about their potential for success, and therefore about themselves.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Albany - Bachelors, Computer Science
Graduate Degree: University of Delaware - Masters, Computer Science
Swimming, cycling, music.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
When confronted by a learning challenge, the problem can often seem daunting. My goal is to help you see that there is a solution, that the hill can be climbed, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. My intention, even more than teaching the particular subject at hand, is to help you gain confidence in solving problems in the "real world" on your own.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session, we want to address your immediate concerns. There's a problem you need help solving, a subject matter you need help understanding. We work step by step, building confidence along the way.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A student becomes independent by being shown that "they can", that they have the power. A good teacher is an enabler.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Struggling with problems on your own helps you build strength and confidence in solving problems in the world at large. A good teacher will not let you struggle beyond a reasonable level of effort, not let you flail, to rather make sure that your efforts are directed in a productive and positive way.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Difficult problems can often be broken down into smaller more manageable pieces. We would deconstruct the problem, return to first principles, solve each part, and the roll up to the original question.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Often a difficult reading passage can be compared to another wording, one more suited for the student's own experience. By speaking to people in their own language we can help bridge the gap to understanding those who speak differently.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
What motivates the student? How do they learn? Everyone learns differently - some by hearing, some by reading, some only by doing. We need to understand the student as a person to understand how best to serve their learning needs.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
A student is usually most engaged with a topic that they think matters to them in their own life. "How will I use this in the real world?" is a common question. By relating abstract concepts (like computational geometry) to real world experiences (video games!) we can excite the student to learn.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
In asking the student lots of questions, we better gauge the student's current level of understanding. Teaching one-on-one is not a monologue, it’s a dialogue.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
On an apple tree, the low hanging fruit are the easiest to harvest. We aim to give the student some early wins to build confidence in obtaining higher objectives.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Understanding a student's needs is a combination of talking with the student and their sponsors (a parent, guardian, etc.), and in bringing to the table the tutor's own experience in understanding what the student needs to known to be successful in the subject.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Everyone learns differently. First, we need to understand the student as a person, to understand what makes them tick. Then we can tailor the approach to the individual.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
During a session it would be common to use pencil and paper, or a whiteboard, or other means to communicate the material. The Web is a great resource for examples, illustrations, and other supporting material. For subjects like mathematics, tools that are available on the Web and on mobile apps can be very beneficial to showing the subject matter from many angles and perspectives.