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Chris

I bring over five years documented tutoring experience in math and the physical sciences. I've tutored for the University of Maryland and Georgetown Tutoring, LLC and have been a teaching assistant at both the University of Maryland and the University of Chicago. I look forward to working with you!

Undergraduate Degree:

University of Maryland-College Park - Bachelors, Chemistry

Graduate Degree:

University of Chicago - Masters, Geophysical Sciences

Sailing, Reading nonfiction, listening to podcasts

What is your teaching philosophy?

Patience and empathy. It's important to acknowledge the challenges the student is facing, to reassure them of the challenges, and then to develop an effective strategy to get the student where they want to be at the end of the tutoring session.

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

I usually spend 15-20 minutes talking to the student. I want to know what they like, what they don't like, and what their interests are outside of a tutoring session, and then tell them about myself. I want to make sure that the student feels comfortable in the sessions and can trust that I am a resource empathetic to their challenges.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I have found that students are already independent in other parts of their lives, whether that be in hobbies or in sports. Tailoring a session and lesson plan to activities where they are already independent participants encourages students to become independent learners. In addition, I let the student tell me what they want at the beginning of every session to stress that I am there for them.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

The best way to keep a student motivated is to remind them of their end goal. If they need to pass a class to become eligible for sports, to earn that GPA, or simply to learn, always reinforcing the student's goals throughout tutoring helps to keep them motivated. In addition, I find that tailoring sessions to a students outside interests helps keep students motivated.

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

I would take a step back. If a student has difficulty with a concept, it may mean that the skill needs to be broken down into more refined chunks. Furthermore, I would ask them what they feel the problem is. Are they having trouble visualizing a concept, or is another concept impacting their success?

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

The first thing I would try is slowing the student down. I've found that students that struggle with reading comprehension are usually under a time constraint. In addition, I would focus on building the confidence of a student by reading something they are more familiar with or comfortable reading. Furthermore, I would tailor reading to their interests that they understand conceptually.

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

When working with a new student, reinforcing what the student knows works best. They find the confidence in their work that motivates them to attack the new material. In addition, reviewing material helps build the foundation for the material they're working on now. For instance, if they are working on fractions, it's best to review simplifying fractions and scalar multiplication.

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

Bring it back to the real world. Learning math, in a vacuum, is a major hitch in getting students excited about learning it. Therefore, I would show them where math or their subject intersects their lives. If the student likes sports, I would let them use the line scores from baseball or basketball games to demonstrate matrixes and how those states are calculated. If they're interested in perfume, I would show them how organic chemistry relates to making new scents.

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

I like to use the Pomodoro method where I break up the lesson into 20 minute chunks, and then take 3-4 minutes to "spot check" the student's comprehension and to rest their minds. Filling a session using this method not only keeps students motivated and moving quickly, but allows for a natural pause to ask brief comprehension questions. In addition, I always end a session with a 5 minute review to check they grasp the material and are prepared for their homework.

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

Confidence comes from success. Therefore, I offer opportunities to gain success in their subjects. In early sessions, I offer review questions that the student can successfully answer with confidence. After several sessions, I begin to draw on material from earlier sessions. I want to show the student how far they have come since starting tutoring, and how the mastered subjects they originally struggled with can be overcome. Finally, practice makes perfect. To find success, students need to practice the subject extensively, and that will give them confidence.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I ask them. Normally, a student will answer with a variety of answers ranging from "I just don't get X" to "I want to get ahead in Y." These are two very different needs that require different strategies. For test prep, that might be a score they want to reach for admission to a competitive college or program. When evaluating learning strategies, I ask what subjects the student performs well in, what their interests are, and try to find what the intersection is. If they enjoy sports, they could learn better from visualizing the material rather than memorizing flashcards.

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

At the end of the day, I am there for the student. If a student does not respond to practice problems, a method I used heavily when I was in high school; I would pivot to their learning style. In addition, in early sessions I would confirm with the student that this is how they want to learn the material. It's easy to fall into a teacher-student dynamic, but a tutor needs to have the trust of the student to provide for their individual needs.

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

It depends on the subject. For chemistry, I always like to bring models or find ways to visualize the subject. This usually means scrap paper, pens, pipe cleaners, or tape to build molecules. I also like to bring dry erase markers and a dry erase board. Usually, this allows for creativity and the possibility for expression on a subject. Also, there is cathartic value in erasing mastered difficult questions.