Many people ask why I love Mathematics. It seems to be the subject that you either love or hate. I have always been passionate about the complexity, yet logical solutions, of solving a problem. Math is a puzzle just waiting for you to put the pieces together in order to discover a little more about the world. Everything revolves around math in some form or another, and it excites me to put all the pieces together and know when I'm finished that it all makes sense and fits together. My teaching and tutoring time reflects that excitement and teaches students a new understanding of how math works. The concepts of mathematics start as small building blocks of information which can be expanded and built upon to solve complex equations. Learning how to break down those problems is key to being successful. My passion for math is contagious and I want everyone to love the subject as I do. It's important to me, as a teacher, to build a solid, trusting relationship with each of my students in order to get a better feel for their learning styles and what the best way to help them is. There is no cookie cutter, one-size-fits-all method of teaching. Each student is unique, each student learns differently, and it's my job, and my commitment to you, that I will discover the best way to help you love and understand math, too.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Illinois at Springfield - Bachelors, Mathematical Sciences
Graduate Degree: Saint Joseph's University - Masters, Secondary Education
I enjoy spending my free time in the kitchen. I love to cook and bake, and trying new recipes, using my family as guinea pigs, is my peaceful place. I also spend time scrapbooking to preserve all of our precious memories. Any other spare time is spent with my kids, other family, and friends.
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy stems from the idea that mathematics has a historical viewpoint where many believe that math is very difficult, oftentimes unattainable, and with the idea in mind that most of it will never be used in real-life situations. Learning math needs to be fun, educational, and connected to the real world. It can't simply be the old-fashioned notion of transferring notes from the blackboard to the notebook then drilling exercises until the procedure itself is memorized, but not necessarily learned. Learning mathematics can be fun, interesting, and beneficial. Everyone uses mathematics in some way almost every single day. This is what makes learning math so important. I have had a passion for mathematics since being introduced to the subject in grade school. It was more fun than work to me. Math became more difficult through the years, but the challenge only made it more enjoyable. Numerous years passed between graduating from high school and pursuing my degree. Taking my prerequisite college math classes reignited that passion, and I switched majors to focus my studies on the field of mathematics. Teaching is my way of sharing that passion with others. Under my direction, students are empowered to take responsibility for their own learning. I am committed to providing a learning environment that is fun, challenging, and pursues the educational value of the subject. By using various research-based assessment strategies, it allows me to focus on student learning and their personal style of learning. By using various personality assessment strategies, it allows me to get to know each student as an individual so that they can feel safe and secure in their learning environment. My mission as a teacher includes, but is not limited to, three important topics: to promote positive learning, to spark an enthusiasm for learning, and to provide a strong foundation for lifelong learning. In part, this includes understanding both the individual learner, and the cultural diversity of the student, which dictates the design of effective instruction and allows for implementation of concrete strategies. Lessons are universal, but need to be adjusted for the individual student. When this is done correctly, all students can proceed together using the level that is best for their unique needs. The proper testing techniques allows me, as a teacher, to gauge how much students already know, how much they need to know, and what they've learned so far. When this information is obtained, I can match curriculum and instruction to meet the needs of the student. Math does not have to be pages and pages of drills or recitations of facts and numbers; it can be fun. In my experience, math is not taught for true understanding, it is taught for memorizing formulas and plugging in numbers to accommodate various questions on an exam. We can teach the how, but without the why and real world examples, there will never be true understanding. Connecting life experience to mathematical concepts is more likely to breed an understanding of the subject. Three of the biggest obstacles to learning math are the student's belief that math is boring, math is impossible to do, or that math is irrelevant. Math must be made interesting so that it engages a student's interest. Math does not have to be an endless list of formulas with no connection between topics. I will enthusiastically teach ideas while guiding students along a path where each new concept shows the connection from the previous concept and shows the precursor to the following. Math is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be as hard as some people make it out to be. While problems may be long and look impossible to attempt, students already have the tools needed to solve it. They simply need to learn to break it into the pieces that are understandable. The biggest question posed by students is, "When will I ever need this?"? While it's true that there are mathematical concepts that they may never use again after their class final is complete, students must operate with the understanding that mathematics in general has a profound impact on our daily lives and greatly improves our ability to think rationally, organize ideas, and accurately apply concepts that will always have a practical application. Being willing to ask and answer questions plays an important role in the learning process and is enthusiastically encouraged. As the teacher, it is especially helpful to know when a student is not understanding. If this is the case, a different method of instruction or explanation can be used for more clarity. Answering questions, even if incorrectly, is a natural part of learning. Many times, the best way to learn the right answer is to say the wrong one. The best way to learn math is to do math. Working out examples, showing problem-solving techniques, relevant and instructive homework, repetitive practice, making mistakes, getting stuck, and trying different strategies is an imperative and essential part of the learning process.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A typical first session will allow for extra time to get to know each other. The best way to help a student is to be able to make a personal connection. Being able to detect their personality and to evaluate their learning style is beneficial to the teaching process. Once we have established a rapport, there will be an evaluation of the student's needs, what they need help with, determining what concepts they already understand and what they still need to learn. Once this is complete, we can concentrate on the reason the student is there and we can jump into work.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
One of my favorite sayings relating to teaching is: "The best teachers are the ones that show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see". If a teacher is telling you what to see, you are being indoctrinated, not taught. You aren't being taught to think, you are being told what to think. In order to become an independent learner, a student must think for themselves, know where to find the answers, and know when to ask questions.