I currently work as a math tutor at Mathnasium: The Math Learning Center, where I've been for the past year and a half. I've also tutored German privately and had 9 years working in church youth programs. My education has been through American River College and Sierra College, with my current degree being an AS in Mathematics for Transfer.
I love to be curious about everything and to spark curiosity in others through teaching. My goal is not just to have you understand something, but to be able to have fun with it, be able to sit down, play around with the pieces, and by doing that learn something new about it. Learning is exploring: as a tutor I see myself as a guide, my job is to get you excited about the topic so that you begin to ask questions and piece together the picture yourself.
My interests include board games, video games, science fiction/fantasy, fiction writing, language, ballroom dance, and most anything having to do with science.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: American River College - Current Undergrad, Mathematics
SAT Composite: 2260
SAT Math: 720
SAT Verbal: 800
SAT Writing: 740
Board Game Design, Video Games, Writing, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Mathematics, Linguistics, Languages, Evolutionary Biology, Sociology, Neurology
Q & A
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find that working on gaining a full perspective of what the student is struggling with is key. If I can dig down and figure out what is causing the work to be so hard, and fix that, it cleans up multiple issues at once and empowers them to complete problems on their own.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would show the student the practical applications of the subject, the cool things you can do with it, the reasons they are learning it, and what it's leading up to. I find that usually the reason a student doesn't like a subject is because it's bewildering or seemingly useless. If I can clear up both those issues, it becomes less of a chore, even if it remains difficult.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
In general I ensure the student has a well-rounded understanding of the subject. It's not just the facts and processes that are important, but how they relate to each other. I will often "teach around" a topic, explaining not just the particular thing they need to know, but also related things that help illuminate the target topic and more basic concepts that are required for comprehensive understanding.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Confidence requires a solid base and fleshed-out understanding of the subject, as well as the student's own belief that they are capable. The first two are accomplished by filling in any gaps in basic concepts and making sure that the student understands how all the concepts relate to each other to form a complete, understandable picture. The last, if the student doubts their own skills, involves them doing the work in a supportive environment that also gradually moves them towards working independently. This proves to them via repeated success that they can make it on their own, even without my help.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
For tutoring math, I employ mostly the whiteboard and graphing calculator, whether in person or online. I may pull problems from my old math books or online sources, and direct the student to websites that have particularly good explanations of certain topics, such as a tool that allows you to bend and stretch a parabola or a picture with a concise summary of a set of formulas. For tutoring languages, I have a wider variety of typical sources, among them language learning sites, YouTube series, Netflix shows and auditory books. However, in the spur of the moment I will use whatever's on hand, such as using Lego bricks to teach area, or demonstrating color perception with colored markers.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
When working with a new student I will start by asking them directly what learning style they think suits them best and what sort of techniques they have used in the past. Throughout the tutoring sessions, I experiment with different approaches in order to see if something else works better. I might explain something several ways, then ask them which way they liked best. If the student says they learn languages best by reading, I will still throw in some listening or another method they may not have tried.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I'm constantly adjusting my approach to the student based on each tutoring session. Everyone requires something different, and part of my job is figuring out what methods they find easiest to understand. Especially in the first few sessions I will try approaching things in different ways, see how they react, and ask them what way seemed clearest to them. A lot of it is simply interacting with them, which over time gives me a better understanding of who they are and how they think.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
The best method to build reading comprehension is to have something that gives context to what the student is learning. This is most often an interesting story, but could also be a particular TV show or movie. The student already has the ability to speak the language, they simply need to learn a style that includes relatively rare words and sentence structures. By having an interesting context for the new information, it is much easier to retain and recall. I can then pull out sentences from the books for review, and have the student write their own short stories, essays, or emails as practice.