Though I came into Boston University undecided on my major and future, I quickly developed a passion for teaching after I volunteered to work in a second grade classroom. This experience came during the first semester of my freshman year, and from then on I absolutely fell in love with teaching, math in particular. I have found the greatest satisfaction in teaching when I can watch my students have the “a-ha!” moment when they finally understand something. It gives me both joy that I was able to help them and joy that they were able to succeed. I know what it is like to work hard through problems and I know what it is like to get frustrated with them. From this, I have found I am able to relate to my students and really recognize both their struggle and their hard work. In the classroom I make sure to get to know each and everyone of my students, and I devote myself to understanding their needs, improving their confidence in their math abilities, and helping anyone and everyone I can.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that teaching is more than just lecturing students on what they need to know. It is more than giving student facts they need to memorize and take in as true without question. But rather teaching math in particular is about showing students how they can engage with the content. It is about taking risks, making mistakes, and exploring with the math to find the answers. My classroom is a risk taking, mistake-making classroom where students are encouraged to try everything and to not be afraid of being incorrect. In my own experiences through math class, I felt there was too much emphasis on being correct therefore causing many students to shut down when they did not understand the material at hand. This hindered their ability to grow as learners and made them feel they “were not a math person”. If instead the focus of a math class were on the process and the exploration rather than always on producing the correct answer, many more students would find success. Most importantly, you must get to know your students, know their strengths, know their weaknesses, and not dwell on the negative, but instead work with the positive. Quite often, students become discouraged and lose hope when all they receive is negative feedback after negative feedback. Because of this, I believe in balancing your feedback and remembering to point out the good things too. In my class I always give both positive feedback as well as constructive feedback. For example, on a student’s paper I will start by writing what they did well and what is working and then transition into what they still need to work on. This way I stick to my personal goal of having a classroom where mistakes are normal. I make sure to let my students know that I value their effort as well as offer them ways they can further improve without stressing that they got the answer incorrect. Overall, my philosophy comes down to the idea that every student can learn and it is important to take the stress off being correct or incorrect but instead put the stress on hard work and perseverance.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In the first session with a student it is important to get to know them. I find that it is impossible to help a student if you don't listen to their wants and needs before you begin. Knowing your student is crucial in knowing how to help them.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Often students want to be given the answer and move on, but this does not help them learn. Is it important that when a student is shown something new they practice on their own and then the tutor follows through to make sure they are confident in doing it by themselves.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Motivation can be tough, but if you know your student you can find a way to make what they are learning relevant to them. If you are able to connect subjects to your student’s life they will be more inclined to learn and want to learn.