From Saint John Bosco High School in Los Angeles, California, I came to Macalester College, a top 25 Liberal Arts College, in Saint Paul to pursue my dream of becoming a doctor. About to start my senior year, I have recently retired from sports after 16 years to further chase my future by: working as a teacher’s aide in a Cell Biology/Genetics Lab, doing Stem Cell research with a teacher at my college, and working in an Emergency Department as a Medical Scribe. I am officially a Biology major and Chemistry major at Macalester College, but am very well rounded. In fact, biology and chemistry were not even my best subjects in high school, they were simply the things I loved the most.
In high school, I would tutor peers in various math classes regularly and even helped a few prepare for the SAT and ACT. Currently, I will tutor Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry, and both test preps. Helping an individual learn something new and seeing their facial expression once it finally clicks is one the greatest feelings; advancing others and myself is a motto I live by. I really enjoy sharing my knowledge of the standardized tests as it helps reassure individuals once they get the inside scoop and see the tips and tricks of the tests. In addition, I love to see different ways people solve problems in mathematics classes as there can be more than one way to complete a problem. I encourage students use whatever method is easiest for them to solve the problem, however, I will do my very best to show them the most straightforward steps.
Before I meet with a student, I will: introduce myself at least 24 hours in advance and make sure the meeting is set up, ask what they are currently studying and the issues they are having trouble with the current subject, and ask what resources they have available which will give me an idea of what I should bring. I will rarely give an answer outright; rather, I will ask the student questions and let them piece the puzzle together. If they come up with the incorrect answer, I will let them know and give hints by asking different questions that may be a little clearer. Incorrect answers are something I will never become frustrated with as long as the student understands why they are wrong and learns from their error. When I am not working or going to school, I enjoy skateboarding, playing and watching sports, being in nature, learning about the universe, space, stars, and planets, making poems, coloring and drawing, and cooking for friends.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I try to break down questions without directly answering the material. I will ask the student questions to get them to think and understand the problem. I encourage them to try and find easier ways to solve problems. Being incorrect is only a problem when the student does not understand why they are wrong. To advance, the student must be able to understand their error in order to progress.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
When meeting for the first time: I will make sure to call the student in advance and introduce myself, set up a time and place to meet, ask specifically what they are having difficulty with, and inquire what materials (books, computer, handout) we are going to be working with. I would also ask if the place we're meeting has internet. At the first meeting, I would be prepared with all the necessary tools (paper, computer, pencils and erasers, etc.) and be very friendly and sociable. I will be patient in trying to understand where the student is struggling and why and tell them some stories to relieve their frustration using examples of real life people who struggled before doing something amazing.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I ask them to show me their thought process before I begin to help them in depth. They have to struggle a bit in order to better understand something on their own because we may have different ways of viewing the problem that both arrive at the same answer. By breaking down their thought process I could navigate their brain by asking questions that would help them arrive at the answer. This questioning and having them show me their thought process will lead them to think things through better.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
To keep the student's interest, I would remind them of how far they've come, and show/tell them about how the subjects I'm helping them with are the fundamentals of super cool technology and advancements that make the world easier.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If they were stuck on a particular section, I would get additional material to help them understand. I would try many different angles to see if they could understand. If they cannot still comprehend the problem, I would use a simpler problem and proceed from there. However, from personal experience, I understand that it may just take some time to get it. If they are truly stuck, we will take a break, move onto something else, and try revisiting the problem with a fresh mind later on.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would first tell the student to read the questions to see how much they actually have to comprehend, because if it is an essay, and the questions only pertain to the first paragraph, then that is all they should read. I would then help them break down what is being asked and show them that you can literally read the section sentence by sentence to understand the reading better.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
To be most successful, it is very important to make contact ahead of time, come prepared, and engage with the student in other then just academic talk. If you can relate on a personal level, they will take a liking to you more often. It is also important to get a sense of where the individual is at and be cautious not to try and accomplish too much too quickly.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
To build one's confidence, we must start with easier tasks. Depending on how much they comprehend, this may be reviewing from ground zero until we find the kink. Once we've established where they are at, we give them easy problems gradually building harder ones. As we move along each difficulty, I give less help as they understand more of the easier questions, but will help when we move into intermediate and advanced questions. If it is test taking (ACT/SAT), I will remind them that the correct answer is already given, they just have to find it.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I evaluate a student’s needs not based upon how many times they request to meet up, but how much they are learning and retaining information. Much of my evaluation of the student will be based off the first couple encounters, for it may not be that they don't understand the subject, but rather they are not applying themselves. I will attempt to analyze each individual's needs and adjust my teaching methods to their directly specified or deduced needs.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Adjusting to each individual is very important. I am willing to review as much as needed as well as break the questions and methods down as much as possible until the student understands. If they are a visual learner and don't comprehend paper math, I will look up videos regarding the particular subject. If they like textbook problems over computers, I will have some available. It is quintessential that the tutor understands and respects the student and where they are coming from to modify their teaching methods to accommodate.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
At a typical tutoring session, I use many different tools which include but are not limited to: books regarding the subject, online tools that are free or provided by Varsity Tutors, pencil, paper, calculator, and videos.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
To help the student stay engaged in a subject, a couple strategies could be employed. One is to relate the subject to something they already enjoy. Another is to show them what new advancements are being done in the field and how the advancements are benefiting many people. It also doesn't hurt to give them advice on how it will help with schooling later.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
To make sure a student fully understands the material, I would have them explain the material in their own words. I would also give them challenges that may be intermediate to difficult and offer minimal help. I would then ask them their thought process as to how and why they arrived at their answer before I conclude that they are correct or not.