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Liam

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As a graduate student in mathematics, I teach and tutor college students in calculus and algebra almost every day. With classroom teaching experience in algebra, trigonometry, probability, and calculus, and one-on-one tutoring experience in algebra 1 through calculus, I have the experience and expertise to help you understand whichever area of math you need.

I am also fluent in Spanish, and can tutor from high school through intro college Spanish, as well as tutor math in Spanish.

Outside of the classroom, I enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and rock climbing, as well as playing jazz guitar. I am also an avid reader (when I have the time), and I enjoy reading both fiction and nonfiction.

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Liam’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of St Thomas - Current Undergrad, Applied Mathematics

Test Scores

SAT Composite: 2150

SAT Verbal: 780

Hobbies

Hiking, running, jazz guitar, playing folk music, classical violin, rock climbing, reading great fiction and nonfiction


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

My teaching philosophy is that the best way to learn is by doing; watching or hearing someone else only goes so far.

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

I might find out exactly what's giving the student trouble by asking questions and giving them sample problems. Then, I might see if the student had tried anything in the past to overcome the difficulty, and whether or not it worked. Finally, I might see if I can find out what the student's goals are for tutoring, and then armed with that information begin trying to help the student through the difficulty.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I think one of the most important things in learning is curiosity and believing in one's own ability. If a student is curious enough and believes in his or her ability to find and understand information, independent learning follows naturally. For example, if a student is having trouble understanding trigonometry but is curious and confident in his or her ability, the student will most likely seek out information about trigonometry with the confidence that understanding will come with enough practice.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

There are many reasons to be motivated to learn, but I think the best is curiosity or a sense of wonder about the world. I believe cultivating curiosity is the key to motivation to one's studies.

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

I would try to explain the concept in its most basic form and build up from there. For example, logarithms seem complicated, but if one understands that they are simply another way of expressing exponential relationships, they become much easier to understand. If the skill or concept is more complex, I think the best way to explain it is to break it up into its constituent parts and explain each of those in the most basic way, and then build from there.

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

The most helpful technique for reading comprehension I have found is to summarize each paragraph I read in my head, in my own words, before moving on to the next one. That way, I get a piece-by-piece understanding of the text, which I can string together in my head at the end of the passage.

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

I think the best strategy when starting with a student is to make sure I know exactly what the student is having trouble with, that way I know exactly what needs work. From there, the best strategy I've found is to explain the concept in the most basic, stripped-down way possible so that the student is able to understand what's really going on. Then, I think practice on the student's part is the best way to move forward.

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

I think a sense of curiosity is important in order to stay interested and engaged in subjects. I think a good way to encourage this is to relate subjects to real life experiences. For example, I never had much interest in history until my uncle, who has always been interested in history, explained to me how modern American culture could be explained, at least in part, by the historical forces that created it. This made history, which up to that point I had seen as memorizing dates and names, into an interesting and applicable way to look at the world.

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

I think the best way to be sure a student understands the material, especially something like mathematics, is to have them try to do a problem, or think through an example by themselves. This is helpful because if they don't fully understand the material, trying to work through the problem on their own will highlight the areas they are least comfortable with and thus should work on before they have a complete understanding of the material.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

I have seen many students who understand a subject well but second-guess themselves because they are not confident in their ability. I think the best way to build a student's confidence in a subject is practice and encouragement. If students are repeatedly affirmed in their abilities and have many opportunities to show their understanding, not only to others but also to themselves, I believe their confidence will grow.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I think this is a twofold process. I think one part of evaluating a student's needs is talking to the student and the student's parents and/or teacher. The second part is seeing the student in action, giving them problems to work through on their own, and seeing as they do so where the gap in understanding lies.

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

Every student is different, just like every person is different, and thus every student requires a slightly different approach to tutoring. Having said that, there are some aspects of tutoring which will stay the same from student to student, such as the general approach to evaluating a student's needs and trying to explain concepts in their most basic form.

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

I think a good resource to use in a tutoring session is the student's textbook, as this will present the subject material in the most familiar way to the student. However, it is also sometimes helpful to present the same information in diverse ways, in order to teach a subject more effectively or be sure of understanding. So, I might bring a textbook of my own, or use online quizzes and sample questions to aid a student's understanding.


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