My name is Matt. I'm a graduate of a top liberal arts school with a degree in Chemistry and a minor in English Lit. I'm now a full-time tutor here at Varsity Tutors. I typically work with high-school students, but I also work with college students as well as younger students.
I share with students the ways I learned the things they are learning now, and I like to focus on understanding the underlying concepts. I want students to be able to think their way through the material, and I do that by framing it in a way that makes sense to them. Everything from writing and English lit to Chemistry and Math has a certain logic and sense to it, so I find that if I can show that logic or sense to the student, he or she can grasp the material much better.
My profile picture was taken at a lab job at UC-San Diego I had after graduating three years ago, but I found that as much as I enjoyed the coursework, working in a Chemistry lab wasn't for me. Working with students has been much more rewarding and fun.
Undergraduate Degree: Haverford College - Bachelors, Chemistry (minor in English Lit)
SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1510
SAT Math: 770
SAT Verbal: 730
GRE Quantitative: 168
GRE Verbal: 166
Reading fiction, writing fiction, and playing tennis.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe in understanding rather than memorizing. The brain is wired to learn information that has a clear context around it and an obvious function or logic. My goal is to grow the student's grasp of the general concepts and then apply them, rather than learning the applications in isolation. I find that this makes learning easier and much more interesting. I can tailor this strategy to a wide variety of students, from those who are struggling to those who are advanced and in need of a challenge.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In the first session, I would try to identify how well the student understands the material and what types of things he or she struggles with. Like a normal session, we would work through the student's current material. But my goal would be to get to know the student and see where I need to focus.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My goal is to make the student an independent learner, I am not trying to make him or her dependent on me. I am trying to teach the student how to learn this type of material, based on what I've learned over the years. I also hope to increase the student's comfort with the material, which will help him or her be more confident in the class in the future.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I try to find the student's interest in the material and the student's goals to foster those. I am careful not to put pressure on the student or remind them of the pressure their parents put on them. Without that pressure, students feel more freedom to find their own motivations.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would work to reframe the skill or concept in a way the student understands.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I work to translate a student's verbal ability into a reading ability. Part of what holds back a student struggling with reading comprehension is confidence, and recognizing their own verbal ability can help with that. Otherwise, the keys are patience and encouragement.