I cannot remember a time of my life when I did not enjoy helping others learn. Just this past semester at college, I helped a friend of mine with calculus. Whenever he came to me for help I always felt happy. I looked forward to it. Even when it took a long time to figure out what was wrong with his work, so long that I would sometimes get behind on my own work, I would always get this feeling of joy. I do not know why it comes. It just does. This is what led me to want to be a tutor; I genuinely enjoy helping people learn and understand new things.
I am also unsure what led me to love mathematics, but in recent years I have really discovered my aptitude in this particular field. Math is just, well, cool. The more I learn about math the more I realize that it simply gets more and more beautiful the more you understand how it works. I hope to pass a bit of that awe and wonder to anyone that asks me why I love math.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Teach for understanding.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
After introducing myself, I would jump right in. I would first and foremost ask the student what they thought they were struggling with most and start there. I wouldn't directly help them at first. I would probably ask them to attempt solving the problem on their own in order to diagnose what exactly is going wrong and where.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My goal is to help students learn how to love learning. I think that comes from understanding the subject at hand. I hope, that by showing the student they are capable of understanding subjects they currently struggle with, that they will have a stronger drive to work on their own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would listen to reasons behind why the student wanted to quit. I find listening does a lot more good than lecturing outright. Then I would encourage them to try again, because they usually aren't as far away from understanding as they think they are.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would change the way I taught a subject. If they don’t understand something because of what I am telling them, that is on me. I would rack my brain for different ways to explain what we were working on until I was sure we were making some progress.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
In math and science, the trick behind reading comprehension is to know what certain words mean in context. Especially with word problems, it can feel like the problem is speaking in code. I would help students to speak the lingo of word problems.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would have a student repeat back what they understood a particular concept to mean in their own words. From there, it almost always becomes apparent how much or how little the student really understands what it is that we are discussing.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I listen to what they think they have a problem with of course. I also would watch them work by themselves to see where they started having trouble, making errors, or no longer know how to continue. I would not just listen to what they thought was the problem, I would look at their work.