My name is Zach, and I am a software engineer with a B.S. in Physics from Northeastern University. This will be my fifth year working with Varsity tutors, and I am very excited to meet and work with you! I'm very passionate about learning and have dedicated much of my time to learning as much as I possibly can about how the world works. Ice Hockey is also a large part of my life as I have been playing since I was 8. I also am very interested in music and currently learning how to play the piano and guitar. Throughout the last two years of my high school career, I spent upwards of 20 hours a week tutoring in subjects including AP Physics 1, AP Calculus AB/BC, Middle School Mathematics, Science, and Spanish, Regents Geometry, Regents Algebra, Regents Trigonometry, and US History. I understand how the young adolescent mind operates, and am able to employ several different teaching styles (e.g. visual, conceptual, verbal) due to my knowledge of the subject at hand. I also have much experience with adolescents through my tutoring experience, coaching ice hockey, and working at a summer camp. I am proficient in mathematics and most fields of science with special concentration in Calculus (1-3) and Physics (1-2), and have used these skills as an electronics tester and designer at Draper Labs. I have a passion in these fields and look to enhance students' understanding of the concept as opposed to merely memorizing information to pass an exam. I look forward to hearing from you, and helping you make great strides in your academic career!
Undergraduate Degree: Northeastern University - Current Undergrad, Physics (with Business Minor)
ACT English: 32
Hockey, Piano, Guitar, Science
10th Grade Math
High School Physics
SAT Subject Tests Prep
What is your teaching philosophy?
While my style of teaching differs to meet the needs of each student, my philosophy stresses the importance of understanding the material at hand, rather than just memorizing information to pass an exam. Additionally, I add real world applications of the material whenever possible so that the student can really connect with what they are learning. I believe that when a student can connect to a topic or see its importance, the act of studying no longer becomes a chore; it becomes a passion.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First sessions are all about finding some sort of connection with the student to make them feel comfortable in the new learning environment. Another important aspect of a first session is supplying some basic questions on the topic to evaluate where the student currently stands and develop a teaching style that best fits the student. For example, some students connect better with real world applications of a topic or comparisons to something similar found in everyday life, while others may be largely visual learners. Developing the proper teaching style is an integral part of maximizing the allotted time.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I often spend some time with the student developing positive study habits for the topic at hand. Different topics often involve different styles of studying (e.g. flashcards versus problem sets). These habits often make studying a much simpler, less daunting task. I also try to give practice problems that review the material from our previous session so that nothing we discussed in the past gets left in the dust. I do not make such assignments mandatory, rather I encourage they complete them by sharing success stories of my previous students.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Being a student myself, I certainly understand the immense stress of balancing extracurricular activities with school and everyday life in general. If a student becomes frustrated or pessimistic, I would take a minute or two to help put everything in perspective for the student and assure them that struggling is not the end of the world. Sometimes a short break is all it takes to get the mind refocused. For seemingly unmotivated students, I would try a different approach with the student and try to get them to connect with the subject so that studying doesn't have to feel like such a chore or burden.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I have had many different instructors in my schooling career, and I have picked up some of the tools of the trade. If a student is having difficulty, I would try attacking the problem from a different angle and try explaining the topic in a different fashion. Namely, I often try connecting the topic at hand to something in everyday life that the student might experience. It is important to realize that each student is different and connects to subjects differently than others. Finding the correct teaching style can often be the key to getting a student to connect with the material.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I often try to relate to students who struggle with reading comprehension by employing techniques used by foreign language instructors. I read with the student, breaking the text down sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase, even word by word. Simplifying a larger text into a series of smaller, easier to understand statements often helps a student understand its meaning.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I often open up each subsection of the topic with a tutorial and practical implementation of the material. If the tutorial did not connect with the student, I try another approach, normally incorporating some sort of visual explanation. Once the student is comfortable with the material, then move on to practice examples where I do the first problem, we do the second together, and the student completes the remaining examples on their own (free to ask any questions if they become lost).
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I've often found that when a topic is difficult or uninteresting, finding real-world applications of the topic make it seem important and worth understanding. The elation of understanding how something worse has always fascinated me, and proves to be a powerful tool in motivating students.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Once I have ensured that a student has some basic understanding of the subject, I develop their confidence through repetitious practice examples until the student can consistently solve a problem on their own without issue.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
The opening session with a student is centered around getting to know the student and how they think. This is often accomplished by providing sample problems for the student or simply talking to them about themselves (their interests, hobbies, etc.). Once I understand how they think, I can understand where they struggle and adapt my teaching style to fit their particular needs.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I normally come prepared with practice material for the student, along with any graphics or prompts that are relevant to the topic at hand and may enhance the student's understanding of the material.