I have been tutoring off and on since 1990. During that time, I have tutored mathematics and reading, not to mention being an animation instructor on two occasions (https://www.goanimate4schools.com).
I have always enjoyed passing along information to others. When I was very young, I asked my dad how the heart works. He informed me that it was about as big as fist and acted like a pump. No sooner than he told me that I went up and down the beach explaining what I just learned to other beachgoers.
It is a real sense of gratification when a student really understands a skill or concept for the first time. It bothers me that a student would feel less intelligent simply because he or she has difficulty in one subject, especially given large class sizes where the teacher cannot afford to slow down for those who did not grasp the skill or concept the first time.
I see my mission as a tutor not to say that one subject or another is terrific, etc. but rather to focus on and be dedicated to the student.
The tutoring experience, to my mind, should not be a boring or frustrating one. Knowing this, I am committed to making a student feel comfortable and that the learning process be as smooth as possible.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to be there for the student, not to argue that the subject matter should be of utmost importance. I would ask how the teacher presented the material and work from there, including using (slightly) different approaches to promote understanding.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would introduce myself and ask the student to do the same. I would ask the student to bring in any textbook(s) from class and ask generally what he or she is having difficulty with. I would also ask what the student thinks he or she has mastered and have him or her do a sample question to establish that the skill or concept has been mastered.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
The important thing to help a student become an independent learner is to convey the why of the material where possible instead of just the how. In addition, using positive reinforcement should go towards giving the student confidence in tackling a new subject matter.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Again, positive reinforcement is key - simply correcting the student when he or she is wrong can lead to a lack of confidence or even lower self-esteem. The skills and concepts taught can be mastered at the student's own pace. Finally I would mark progress by comparing improvement in one problem set over previous ones.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Again, I would introduce the why, not just the how of the skill or concept. I would also use (slightly) different approaches to explain the skill or concept rather than repeating the approach the student was presented with in class.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would have the student take the reading sentence by sentence (or even fragment by fragment) and discuss what the student felt the meaning was. I would also not be above reading to the student out loud with proper emphasis on words to better convey the meaning of the material.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Assess what the student knows by having him explain the concept and do a practice problem. I would emphasize that I am there to explain a particular skill or concept, not to judge the student's overall intelligence. And finally, I would use positive reinforcement to establish more confidence and raise self-esteem.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would explain that we are trying to create understanding of a particular skill or concept, not to assess the student's general intelligence. If possible, I would also use examples of everyday uses of the skill or concept in order to make it seem more relevant to the student.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
After I am done explaining the material, I would have the student repeat the explanation back to me and have the students do enough problems until we are both satisfied that the student understands the material.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Again, simply by using positive reinforcement, especially if the student struggled to get the correct answer. I would also use everyday examples of where the subject matter could be useful. Finally, I would emphasize that, for the most part, we are all better at something than another - the subject matter at hand is only one skill or concept to master.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I would ask the student what he or she already knows and do a practice problem to ensure this is so. As far as what the student does not know, I would explain the why and not just the how of the skill or concept and have the student do problems accordingly.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
It is important for the student to work at his or her pace - not necessarily what the teacher or I expect. If I see that the student is struggling, I can reintroduce the skill or concept using a (slightly) different approach - not simply reiterate the first explanation.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I typically use just pencil/pen and paper. That being said, I am not above using other materials. For instance, to teach fractions, I could use a picture of a Hershey's chocolate bar: the whole bar represents the whole, while the pieces constitute a portion or a fraction of that whole.