Benjamin is different from traditional teachers in that he teaches his students high level principles (NOT rote formula/rule memorization) using fun and often-times silly analogies to keep them engaged and interested. One of the key commonalities among the worlds fastest learners is that they learn how high level principles in one field cross-relate to other seemingly unrelated fields. Benjamin believes that if he can inspire his students to see connections between high level principles in math or science and those of some real-life subjects like dance or football, then he walks away a happy teacher and his students walk away with a very bright future. As a techy nerd, Benjamin learns best by visualizing, but if his students are more kinesthetically/feelings oriented, he has plenty of experience in theatre improvisation to creatively engage them using stories. Benjamin has over 100 hours of official tutoring, including professional math/science tutoring with two top tutoring agencies, and plenty of informal (free) tutoring as the go-to smart guy in most of his math/science classes since junior year in high school. Additionally, he has taught Stanford graduate students in 2 graduate level engineering courses as a teaching assistant during his PhD.
Benjamin has five goals with each new student:
1. Identify the studnts goal, their strengths, their weaknesses, and map out a timeline of mini-goals to achieve their overall goal.
2. Fill in any gaps in high level understanding through student-tailored and fun mini-lectures.
3. Introduce a powerful 4 step problem solving strategy that Benjamin uses for everything from math/science all the way to cooking.
4. Guide the student from relatively simple exercises through progressively more difficult exercises which will guarantee early wins and build confidence in a healthy way.
5. Habituate the student with AT LEAST one powerful yet simple study habit out of the many good study habits that Benjamin has in his arsenal.
Benjamin got his B.S. in Chemical Engineering (Summa Cum Laude) and another B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Summa Cum Laude) from Rutgers University. After a grueling 5 years and one first author academic publication, he moved on to his PhD at Stanford University to try to save the environment by discovering better renewable technology. He finished his PhD and a 2 year post-doctoral fellowship in Sweden. Benjamin says that he was probably on track for a professorship, but between the middle of his PhD studies and the end of his Post-doc, he decided scientific research was not for him anymore. During and after this shift, he has been exploring lots of different learning experiences in hopes of finding his true purpose in life. While living in Sweden, he started a theatre improvisation group and then he spent 9 months in South America exploring and becoming fluent in Spanish. After coming back to the real world, he started tutoring again and realized that teaching and learning go hand in hand. Not only does he take pride in seeing the look in his students faces when they figure out a concept but he has also become a better learner!
Please note: Benjamin only works with a limited number of students to ensure top notch tutoring. His space is therefore limited.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Rutgers University-New Brunswick - Bachelors, Chemical Engineering
Graduate Degree: Stanford University - PHD, Chemical Engineering
SAT Math: 750
Cooking, Scuba Diving, Language Learning, Psychology, Traveling.
ACCUPLACER Arithmetic Prep
AP Computer Science Principles
Basic Computer Literacy
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
CLEP College Algebra
CLEP College Mathematics
College Application Essays
Elementary School Math
High School Physics
Middle School Science
SAT Subject Test in Spanish with Listening
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Special & General Relativity
Statics and Dynamics
Study Skills and Organization
Technology and Computer Science
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Learning can be fun and engaging. You just need to be creative.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
My first goal with a student is to find common ground, story tell a bit, and make each other laugh. Basically, I want to establish some rapport and trust. Then, I would like to establish our goal together. From there, I'll help the student set up achievable mini-goals for each week.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I become independent in any skill by learning key principles and understanding how they apply to a few specific examples. From there, all that is needed is to spread your wings and fly.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Encouragement, positive reinforcement and using interesting real life examples from topics that the student likes (football, dance, theatre, etc.).
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Keep them motivated, encourage them, reinforce their successes, and then deconstruct what is missing/wrong in their mental processing.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Ask the student to explain what we did in their own words. Another way would be to ask them to solve a similar problem so they won't just repeat something from memory.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I use encouragement, positive reinforcement, a little comic relief, understanding/compassion, and explicitly pointing out their successes.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
First I find out what their explicit needs are based on the goals that we establish in the first session. I can get other explicit needs by simply asking what they think their strengths and weaknesses are in the subject. The rest is implicit. I'll encourage them to explain how they arrive at solutions so that I can deconstruct their thought process and identify their weaknesses. Some students will have anxiety/confidence issues that I'll read directly from talking to them and then encouraging/positively reinforcing them appropriately.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Everybody is different, so I'll approach this by both asking students what they think their strengths/weaknesses are and secondly, I'll use my social intuition to assess what their motivation/confidence levels are at certain points and calibrate encouragement/positive reinforcement appropriately.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
This depends on the subject matter. For the new SAT Math, I'd prefer to use commonly available test prep books that I currently own. In addition, I use memory devices and spaced repetition software.