I am a graduate student at Auburn University where I am pursuing my PhD in physics. I have been tutoring math, physics, and writing for over 5 years through UNCA, private tutoring, and Huntington Learning Center. I have extensive experience tutoring students with learning disabilities. I thoroughly enjoy tutoring, and I enjoy every single "Ah hah!" moment that I see on a student's face.
Undergraduate Degree: University of North Carolina at Asheville - Bachelors, Physics
Graduate Degree: Auburn University - PHD, Physics
Video games and football
High School Physics
What is your teaching philosophy?
I take a root-up approach when tutoring my students. I find it useless to treat tutoring as means to make someone smarter. That is both false and demeaning to the student. Rather, I identify core reasons for why said student is struggling. Often, a student is only confused by one particular topic; however, in subjects such as mathematics, each topic builds off of the last. Therefore, if you missed something earlier on what a large number of other topics are dependent upon, then you will probably think that you are just bad at every one of those topics. I find it important to treat each student with a respect for their capabilities.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I first start by finding out what said student's true passion is. It is important to help the student to be able to understand the material in a form that they are comfortable with. Not everyone learns the same way. Additionally, I discern the strengths of the student. Sometimes a student may have a strength that they didn't even know might be useful towards completing the course material.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
An independent learner is someone who has learned how to learn. In other words, they know how to alter their environment, prepare themselves mentally, and predict areas that they will have trouble with in an effort to give themselves a significantly greater chance to learn on their own. This is often challenging as there is no one correct way to learn. It is important that during our sessions it be understood that I will be guiding them, and not doing it for them. Simultaneously, I will support and encourage ideas and steps taken by the student provided they are heading in the right direction. Therefore, the understanding of the material will be their own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Often, the most common problems I face when I tutor students is a lack of motivation. Now that is not to say that these students are lazy. Far from it. Said students simply have been punching at a brick wall for so long that they would rather preserve the integrity of their hands than continue to fight. The biggest reason a student loses motivation is fear of failure, and past failures are usually not due to inadequate preparation. Rather, they are due to not knowing how to break the brick. As I said in my summary, it is essential that the root causes for any problems a student may face are addressed. It is meaningless to look only at the surface of the student's problem.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Again, usually, all that is needed is to find the root of the problem and reverse engineer a solution. However, occasionally, a solution cannot be reverse engineered, even if the root of the problem is discovered. From here, we simply look at the student's strengths and use the things the student is good at to help reinterpret the things the student is not good at.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Nine times out of ten, the cause of poor reading comprehension is poor grammar and sentence structure; that and a lack of practice reading more complex literature. I would start with sentence structure. Often, students I have worked with have difficulty with reading comprehension because they skip entire sentences, or, try to summarize them in their head to the best of their ability. The reason these students do this is because they have trouble feeling out the order and flow of each sentence; the exception being short sentences with words having few syllables. On that note, we would also discuss how to use context clues to their fullest capability.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Listen to what the student has to say; always. Just because you are the one instructing them does not mean that the student does not have anything meaningful to say. A tutor is a guide to understanding the material; nothing more.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Connect the student's interests with the material. Academia is both great in scope and capable of interdisciplinary symbiosis. Show the student that things that they can relate to in real life directly correlate to the subject they are studying, so they see the subject as useful and necessary.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would hold regular quiz sessions (schedule varies based on course load, type, and schedule). At the beginning of each quiz session, the student and I would discuss the quiz I sent them from the previous session. I have personally designed these questions so that Google will not be very helpful in solving these problems; therefore, completion of the quiz would be a demonstration of the student's relative ability. Additionally, I do generally give some form of homework at the end of each session.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I find something that the student already feels confident about, and build off of it. In most cases, confidence is not something you can just generate out of thin air. It takes time and practice. However, demotivation is generally the result of past failure. It is critical that the student is taught to treat failure not as a roadblock, but an intersection. Sure, you've come to a halt, but this is temporary. With practice and a little bit of understanding, it will become easier to know which ways will and will not lead you to the destination you are looking for.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I analyze the student's passion, learning style, and general demeanor towards the subject matter.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Some students learn faster than others, and some students learn slower than others. Some people are auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners, or even some combination of the three. A tutor is a guide; not a lecturer. Therefore, it is the tutor's job to adapt to meet the comfort level of the student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I almost always utilize OneNote so that my students can see what I am writing while I speak, even if the session is remote. Additionally, this allows me to be able to share those notes with them via OneDrive.