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I earned my bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, then worked in the computer database software industry as a pre-sales engineer, consultant, trainer, and quality assurance engineer. Consulting in several industries gave me broad exposure to real-world problems and a work ethic that may serve as a role model. I learned to listen to problems and come up with creative and practical solutions. As a trainer and pre-sales engineer, I co-wrote a tutorial, created class materials, and made many technical presentations about "leading edge" software, and so became skilled at explaining complex concepts. My work in QA reinforced my obsession with quality and gave me a good eye for seeing and diagnosing errors, which applies to student errors and misunderstandings.
I have tutored on and off since my college days, in math, science and ESL. I approach tutoring with a positive attitude, a good ear for listening, patience, respect, and humor. I have a bias toward deep understanding rather than rote memorization.

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Donald’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Cornell University - Bachelors, Chemical Engineering

Graduate Degree: Stony Brook University - Masters, TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language)

State Certified Teacher

Test Scores

SAT Math: 750

SAT Verbal: 740

GRE Quantitative: 166

GRE Verbal: 169


Hobbies/Interests: Hiking, Singing, Travel, Films

Tutoring Subjects

Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I approach tutoring with a positive attitude, a good ear for listening, patience, respect, and humor. I have a bias toward deep understanding rather than rote memorization.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

I want to find out "where you are", not only in your academic knowledge, but also in your feelings, interest and attitude toward the subject -- this has a big effect on your success. I'll ask questions, give you some problems to solve, see how you solve them, and where you get stuck.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I can help you be more independent by giving you more confidence in your own intelligence. Some students who get tutoring feel defeated in the subject, but it's often just a minor misunderstanding. I can diagnose and clarify those problems, helping you build a strong mental image of the concept or procedure. Then I step back and let you do the thinking, looking at a problem from different perspectives. I step in with a hint only if necessary.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I keep things light, even silly if it keeps the student awake on those warm summer days! I try to give gradually more difficult problems to build confidence.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I try to find another perspective for a difficult concept. I also use images, videos, hands-on materials, mnemonics, silly rhymes, etc.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

There are several possible causes of reading problems -- the student's vocabulary, phonology (sounds from writing), morphology (prefixes, etc.), syntax (grammar), literary devices (irony, etc.). I try to find out what the root cause or causes are, then teach them explicitly with practice.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

I get to know you, what you know and want to know, and then we set some goals together.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

I would try to find some real-world application of the concept, or some interesting and fun facts or mysteries related to the subject. I could also find something that the student "didn't know they already knew" about the subject.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

I ask questions; students need to not only answer the question, but also show how they know it or how they solved the problem. I ask students how they would explain it to someone else. I change one fact in the question and ask how that changes the answer. I then ask the student to generate a question on the topic, then answer it.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I talk to the student, asking them what they know and struggle with in the subject, and what they like and dislike. I examine the textbook for errors or confusing explanations. I look at the student's past homework, quizzes, and tests. I ask some sample questions or give sample problems in the subject.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

The advantage of tutoring is that the student can give instant feedback on how well the lesson is going, and the tutor can respond directly to that single student. I can review vocabulary, move up and down the "staircase of complexity", and adjust the scaffolding.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

I can use the student's own materials, materials on educational websites, my own books and papers, and any hands-on manipulative materials, media, lessons, or problems that I can find.

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