A great tutor is one who understands the need of the student and adapts their teaching to fit that mold. It is one who instills confidence in the student by guiding, not pushing. And it is one who ensures fun throughout the process. All of these qualities are ones that I strive to achieve by constantly tweaking my style to ensure the best for those that are learning. Throughout my many instructional experiences, I have increasingly become a better teacher, learning from the student as much as the student learns from me.
Instructing junior sailing is where most of my teaching ability has blossomed. I have taught sailing to a range of ages for seven years at two different yacht clubs. Based on sailors ages and especially confidence levels, I had to constantly change my tune when explaining a new concept. I understood from this that not everyone learns the same way: some children need extra time, some need a different explanation, and some just need to go out and practice it. Yet, even with these obstacles, I always strove to get the best out of my sailors. I wanted to guide them into loving the sport that I grew up loving. Every morning when I would create lesson plans, I kept in mind how to get the best out of each junior sailor. I made sure we had “chalk talks” first to explain the concept. Then I would reinforce this concept by demonstration. Following this, I would have each sailor practice on the land; it is a term called “dry sailing”. Next, we would venture out on the open ocean, each nine year old in their personal boat. Finally, games would be implemented to practice and reinforce the new skill. As a tutor, I would translate all of these techniques towards subjects that I am very confident in. I would do everything to make sure the student was gaining confidence and having fun. If these are the priorities, learning will always follow.
During my undergraduate years, I volunteered in school-sponsored organization called the S.T.E.M. Ambassadors Program. Here peers and I would travel to underperforming middle schools to mentor students. We would spend an hour tutoring and working on homework. Next we would run fun experiments to teach the students about aspects of scientific research. Throughout the semester, we worked with students so they can create projects for their local science fair. Working with these students was a challenge as many were far behind in their studies. Yet by instilling confidence and having fun during this after school program, I am confident that every student gained skills in science. Many of them began to love science when they originally had not. Working with this population of students taught me a great deal and helped round out my instructional experiences. As a mentor, I not only helped them in their schooling, but I helped them gain confidence with everything else. I hope as a tutor, I could also become a mentor.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that in order to be a good teacher, you have to listen to the student. Understanding what the student is struggling with, how the student learns, and especially how the student thinks is essential to being the best teacher possible. With this information, a good tutor can ensure that the student makes gains in knowledge and ability.