A life-long mathematics educator and learner who thrives in an atmosphere of academic collaboration, investigation, discovery and enlightenment.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Texas State University-San Marcos - Bachelors, Secondary Education-Mathematics
Graduate Degree: The University of Texas at Austin - Masters, Mathematics
Reading, running, waterskiing, dancing, singing
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that all students can learn and grow intellectually. I firmly believe in the wonderful and hopeful word "yet"...as in, "I can't do this 'yet', but if I keep working and trying, I will be able to do it eventually!"
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would introduce myself and try to find some commonality between myself and the student. I would ask about learning style, strengths, and weaknesses regarding retention of new material. I would ask about fears and experiences that might be roadblocks to learning and discuss how we might allay these.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I believe in having students answer questions and come up with solutions on their own. I like to give examples and show students organizational skills and then have them show me how they would approach a problem. Even if they can't completely do a problem, they can contribute something. Sometimes, they think they don't have any idea where to start, but they usually do! You just have to encourage the use of the knowledge that the student does have and help him build confidence in his own abilities.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I show students the progress that they are making. I show them how far they have come and that they are making improvement. Setbacks and disappointments are common to us all but should not keep us from persevering. I try to make the subject fun. I am passionate about mathematics and hope my enthusiasm also helps to motivate my students.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There is usually more than one approach to learning a concept or skill. I would try another method. I would try to relate it to something the student does understand. I would back up and see if perhaps it is an earlier skill that the student lacks that keeps him from learning the new skill. I might use a chart or a graph or a picture to reinforce the skill.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
In math, I would help students identify key words. I would encourage them to make charts and write down their ideas. I would stress that speed in reading is not nearly as important as understanding and that, especially in a math or science problem, it is important to very carefully examine the problem completely. Sometimes highlighters or underlining can help.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Having the proper tools available is of primary importance, whatever that they may be: writing utensils, paper, calculators, reference materials, etc. I also make sure that the student and I are both working and thinking. I ask the student questions about how they would approach the problem and what they know about the problem. Have they solved a similar type of problem? I sometimes use manipulatives or pictures or graphics.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Showing students how a subject is used outside of the classroom is often very motivational. If you can link the subject to a topic or hobby that they enjoy, this can be very effective. Math is especially easy to do this with because it can be applied to so many things: music, sports, politics, art, etc.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I remind students that we are all in a state of learning something and that perseverance and working hard can make a huge difference in whatever skill one is trying to master. If a student hits a roadblock, I ask them to tell me something (anything) that they know that is related to the problem. They often know more than they think they do.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Scaffolding problems so that I can see where a breakdown in a process is often very helpful. Also, I know some students suffer from math anxiety and may just need to feel comfortable with the situation in an environment that is reassuring, non-threatening, and non-judgmental.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I ask them how they learn best.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Paper, pencils, erasers, manipulatives (depending on the subject), colored pens and highlighters, graph paper, and graphing calculator (depending on the subject).
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Verbal questioning, practice problems, and practice quizzes where the student shows mastery on their own.