I received my Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. Which means I have spend my entire time in college studying and doing math problems disguised as engineering problems. I have taught as a part time instructor at Valparaiso University as well as tutored many students over the years. Math comes naturally to me and I want to help it come naturally to you.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
As a teacher, I believe the most important thing is for you to learn how to do something in a way that makes sense to you. Understand how to approach a problem and break it down into easily understandable steps.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I will spend a few minutes to understand what your interests are so I can use examples that are of interest to you. I will also try to get a feel for how you learn and how you approach problems. This allows me to adjust my style and methods to best suit you.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The key to becoming an independent learner is to learn how to think, how to problem solve, and how to go about finding the answers to your questions on your own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
There are two important things to keeping a student motivated: 1) actively involving them in the lesson using various forms of interaction, e.g. asking questions and guiding them through the problem, not just lecturing and 2) using real-life examples that are of interest to the student.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
The key is to learn why and what exactly they don't understand. From there, I try to explain it from a different angle using terms and examples that are more easily understood by the student.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I ask the student to break the word problem down into the individual bits and pieces. Starting with what do you know? What are you asked to find? And finally, how can I find the answer with the information I know? As a side bar, this is also a good time to teach them to ignore extraneous information and to carefully read every word. Sadly, many word problems are written to confuse the student.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
First off, it's about building a rapport with the student. They need to feel comfortable telling me they don't understand something, as well as willing to give a go at a problem without worrying about doing it wrong.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
The first step is relating the subject to something of interest to them such as a hobby or sport. The next step is getting them to feel confident in their ability to learn the subject by encouraging them along the way without making them feel wrong or inferior. Finally, acknowledging their successes.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Provide the student with a fresh problem. Then, ask them to walk me through the problem. I would solve the problem with them, actually doing it along the way.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
By breaking down complex problems into smaller, more easily understood steps; it is easy to have many small successes leading up to a big success.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I ask probing questions, encouraging them to bring examples of what they are having problems with. Based on their responses, I ask follow up questions to feel confident that I understand what they are looking for and how best to help them with that.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I pay attention not only to their verbal responses and work examples, I also pay attention to body language clues. This helps me to understand what methods work best with them, as well as telling me when they are getting it and when I need to explain it again in another way.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
It depends on the subject matter, as well as the age of the student. Typically, I use several pads of paper, which makes it easy for me to draw pictures and show methods of work, as well as alternate methods of work.