I've been teaching for the last 5 years in elementary school and have just moved into the middle school setting teaching Math and STEM. I am a pretty techy guy and love using technology to help students understand more about Math and the world as a whole. My beautiful wife and I have two boys in college and are quite lonely now without them around. My degrees are in Biblical Studies, I hold a Masters of Divinity degree as well and have been working with students for over 25 years in school and church settings. My goal as a teacher and tutor is to help students understand that we all learn differently and that is "okay", we just need to discover which way that is and focus our attention that way.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Bethany Bible College - Bachelors, Bible
Graduate Degree: Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary - Masters, Theology
Woodworking, Fishing, Kayaking
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Every student has the ability to learn if pushed properly. I believe that in order for that student to move forward, one needs to find out what makes that student "tick" and use that to the student’s advantage. Since we all have different learning styles, I believe that they should be taught to their individual strengths. When concepts are broken down into manageable chunks for the student they will be successful. Once they experience success they will start to have confidence in themselves and desire to learn more.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My goal would be to try to get to know them and understand their background and interests, as well as struggles they have in math. I would also find out what has caused them to fail, if they ever had, and try to use that to motivate them to see the simplicity of math.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Once I get an understanding of the student and what motivates them and where their weakness lies, I can use small successes to show them that they are totally capable of achieving great things one step at a time
How would you help a student stay motivated?
My goal would be to challenge them in areas that they do understand so that they can gain confidence in themselves, which hopefully will spur them on to motivate themselves.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would break the concept down into small digestible bites that they do understand, and then introduce things that might be a little more abstract, but introduce them slowly.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would first make sure that they are able to understand and explain what they are reading. I like to have students visualize what they are reading and put it into story that they can tell me to ensure that they see all that's going on.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
My approach with students is mainly hands on and experimental. I learn best when I can touch something and manipulate it; I've seen much success with that. I am also big with mind-maps and have used them to get students to understand that if they are not complete linear thinkers, it's "okay" to do things a bit different than others, as long as they come up with the right answers.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Using project-based demonstrations. Since I am so hands-on, I would design projects that they are interested in so that they can see that math is everywhere and needs to be learned and understood.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Inquiry and discovery on the student's part is important to ensure that they have a good understanding of the content, and since they can and have discovered things on their own, they are more likely to remember it rather than if they are just given answers.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Students become more confident in things that they do when they have success. As long as I can allow them to have small significant successes, they will gain confidence in themselves. In my classroom I constantly give students praise over the concepts they are able to figure out on their own.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I try to ask questions that get to the heart of their understanding of a subject, and then question them on ideas above and below what they should know. By probing around, both above and below their expected knowledge, I can assess if there are any significant gaps in their understanding, and then use those "holes" as a basis of where to start working to fill-in.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I believe planning is important, but I also believe there needs to be some freedom in the time together in case and when instruction time takes a trail away from the task at hand. There are times when these "rabbit trails" lead to key information as to struggles the student has had in the past with others students or teachers. Once these discoveries happen, modifications can occur.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
In the past I have used their math books and online resources to help reinforce my instruction. I have even had students build small structures in order to actually see how things work.