I believe everyone has the ability to perform well in any given subject - it just takes the right approach in preparing and studying for the material. Together, we can find the right approach for you and ensure that you master the material rather than just regurgitate it. Let's make the complex more simple and elucidate what hasn't worked in the past so that you can establish a solid foundation for your future. My definition of success is helping you reaching yours, so let's make it happen!
Q & A
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Try to approach the concept from different angles and techniques. This could include drawing the concept and using visuals, or finding other resources that explain it from a different perspective. Every complex concept is comprised of smaller and simpler ones, and many times we just need to identify and tease apart these smaller concepts to understand the overall picture.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This takes time, effort, and practice. I would help them slow down, break the material into individual concepts within each paragraph (or even each sentence), and ensure they understand each component before moving on to the next one. Once this is completed, I would have them explain it to someone as if the listener hadn't read the passage and try to clearly convey the concepts. Eventually, speed and proficiency will increase and reading comprehension will begin to develop.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Getting to know the student and ensuring they're comfortable with communicating with me. If they are not honest and open about what they are struggling with, then it's going to be impossible to work on what they need. As long as that is established, and it's a two-way street of communication, then we can work together to get down to the root of any problems they might have with the material or learning in general.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Every subject is different and should be approached as such, both in teaching and in learning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
First, assess what the student needs to prepare for. This includes taking a look at the material that was given to them for them to take home as either homework or in class material. Then, identify what it is that they're having trouble with, whether that's overall concepts, procedures, or even identifying what the student doesn't know. After this has been established, we work from the ground up: I teach the material, and then they teach it back to me. This continues until what I'm teaching them is congruent with what they're teaching me, but I make sure it's more than just simple regurgitation. In order to be an effective teacher, you have to have a mastery of the subject you're teaching, and if not, you'll expose any gaps in knowledge and further provide insight on what/how you need to study.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
This comes down to the individual. Usually, this is accomplished by establishing daily or weekly practices that ensure that the student is working with the material in a consistent and progressive manner. This includes identifying what strengths the student has and using them to their advantage. For example, I am a poor auditory learner, making many lecture-based classes very difficult. So what I did during undergrad is I recorded every lecture while simultaneously taking as MANY notes as possible in class, not even really trying to understand the concepts in depth. Then, every couple of days, I would listen back to the recordings while looking at my notes, rewriting my scattered and crazy notes into much more neat and organized ones, referring to both the audio and my previous notes. This played to my strengths: I'm a much stronger kinesthetic learner and poor auditory learner, so I excelled when I rewrote every word and concept in my own words (tedious I know, but I was a master at the class by the time I finished).
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Generally, I find that students are disengaged from particular subjects because they don't think themselves competent in that subject. Once they realize that they ARE capable of achieving what is being asked of them in that subject, or at least a clearer path on how to study for it, their motivation generally improves. In the rare instance that this isn't true, it's because they genuinely don't have a passion or interest for it because it isn't as relatable to them, which is okay to admit. In this case, I would generally advise them to ask why it is they are involved in that subject to begin with. Is it for a degree or certificate in a particular field? Is this class necessary to pass your general education? Or increase your candidacy as an applicant to a particular program? These are important questions that may ignite or reignite the fire they have, at least long enough to push through the relatively undesirable portions of academia.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would have them teach it back to me as if I were a student who does not know the material at all. This includes a gross over explanation of even the smallest details, which may seem extreme, but it actually is a blessing in disguise. It helps them to assimilate the knowledge that they should have learned in a cohesive manner that's presentable to another individual. If this other individual cannot follow, then they don't have a solid enough fundamental understanding of the material. Techniques I may use include verbal explanations, diagrams, drawings, or physical models to help them both internalize and externalize the material, and then express it. The greatest method of learning is to teach, and I think this holds true for almost any subject.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Start slow and gain momentum. Everyone has to start somewhere, and that usually begins with a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of the subject at hand. Once they realize their proficiency in the basics, they can then assimilate those fundamentals into larger and more complex materials, but it has to start small and work big. This may be working from large concepts/processes that are broken down and magnified into smaller ones, or smaller concepts that are mastered and sequenced together to build a big picture. In either case, it comes with being able to manipulate the material. That is when a student has a true understanding of the subject.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Nothing tricky here. I directly ask them what it is they have been assigned, have them explain to me what it is they're unsure of, and proceed from there. Many times, the problem arises from "not knowing what I need to know,” so that is generally a great place to start in identifying what it is the student needs to learn. After we've gotten a road map for the day's lesson plan, then I subjectively assess the relative strengths and weaknesses the student possesses, and then work from there. I try to play to both, emphasizing their strengths while also addressing their weaknesses. For example, if a student can accurately identify anatomical structures on a diagram but can't remember their names, I'll have them try to replicate the diagram through various techniques, like building the structure using props or drawing it on a whiteboard and working backwards.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Colored pens and paper, white boards and markers, textbooks, YouTube, and occasionally props when available. For example, I'll have the student explain to me the physiological process or anatomical structures we're studying as they're drawing/constructing them using the assortment of tools available.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
This is highly dependent on the strengths and weaknesses of the student. I listen to them and play with what's working and what isn't. Different people have different aptitudes, and it's important to take advantage of those when possible.