When I became a college student, I was offered a position at my University’s Math Tutoring Center. Because of my previous experiences as a tutor, I was up for the new challenge. During my Sophomore year, I became a Teacher’s Assistant working in classes of 25-40 students.
Throughout my various experiences, I learned that I had a knack for figuring out the way people think and what methods help certain people grasp a new concept best.
A problem facing many students in Math is that many do not have a complete understanding of the prerequisite material. I am able to selectively review and and build a base for understanding current challenges.
Not only do I enjoy helping students grasp new understandings of this material, but I also genuinely enjoy helping people learn about a subject that I am passionate about. It’s great to be able to see my students improve their skills, while succeeding in subjects they might’ve had doubts on.
No one genuinely hates math. The way that it was taught to you is a different story, however. Each person learns math differently, so they need to be able to find a way that connects the dots for them. Being a good tutor is the ability to not make a one-size fits all approach but rather to cater to each individual and make personalized plans for each student.
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
No one genuinely hates math. The way that it was taught to you is a different story, however. Each person learns math differently, so they need to be able to find a way that connects the dots for them. Being a good tutor is the ability to not make a one-size-fits-all approach but rather to cater to each individual and make personalized plans for each student.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I like to get to know my students a little better during our first tutoring session versus hitting the books immediately. It's important to understand why they're looking for help, what their goals are, and how they think they'll absorb the material best.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would break down the material into a way that makes sense to them particularly. Every learns differently. Everyone absorbs information differently. Being a good tutor is the ability to not make a one-size-fits-all approach but rather to cater to each individual and make personalized plans for each student.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
What works best is figuring out what exactly they're struggling with. I've had students who have struggled to understand the material and have also had students who understand the material but just need help focusing.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
To help a student stay engaged, it's important to go back to the basics. I've helped a lot of students who are extremely uncomfortable with the material they are learning, so I like to go backwards and start from the beginning. The more comfortable progressing through each problem, the more comfortable they'll feel with the subject as a whole.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
It's important that students aren't just memorizing the material for one test or one homework assignment. It's important to me that the students I work with are understanding the subject on their own terms - and can describe it with their own words. While working, I like to constantly ask them to define what they're working on and to describe the material. I've found that providing these "reminders" helps to keep them motivated.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
It's important to observe how a student completes a problem to understand what they need. After observing my students complete a couple of problems, I like to ask them why they decided to do it that way and what their logic was.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Each person learns math differently, so they need to be able to find a way that connects the dots for them. Being a good tutor is the ability to not make a one-size-fits-all approach but rather to cater to each individual and make personalized plans for each student. It's important to figure out which way the student learns best, whether they are visual or hands-on learners. We can't assume that every student who struggles with the material struggles because of the same reason.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I generally work with homework problems, but I do make my own sheets and lessons.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A student can become an independent learner once they figure out what the best way of learning the material is.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
It's important to provide words of encouragement, along with showing them their progress (and reminding them of it). I also like to keep sessions on the shorter side to not overwhelm my students. It's important to connect with students and make sure they feel comfortable enough to honestly tell you what they're struggling with and why they think it's happening.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Constantly showing and reminding them how much they have improved!
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Again, like everything else, not everyone learns the same way. It's important to understand which way a student deciphers a passage best - whether it's notetaking, highlighting, etc.