A photo of Alex, a tutor from Drexel University

Alex

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Let's face it: Math can be tough. So why not make it easier with a personal tutor there help explain the hard things?

I have over 5 years of private and group tutoring in all math levels from middle school to high school. I have helped students with Algebra I and II, Geometry, Precalculus, Trigonometry, and Calculus, as well as test prep for the SAT. In that time period, I have had the opportunity to work with dozens of students with different backgrounds, skill levels, and learning styles. As much as tutoring helps the student, it also helps me. My instruction incorporates the best techniques and explanations that I have found most effective over the years.

I believe there are two critical ingredients needed to conquer any math issues. The first, is the quality of the tutor. Without a doubt, many people can teach you how to do a math problem, but not everyone can help explain it in such a way that you understand it and can apply the knowledge to future problems. The second important ingredient to successful learning is a positive attitude by the student. When tackling tough math problems, many students begin to feel overwhelmed by the material. I make sure to teach the material at a level the student can understand before progressing to more difficult problems. I have found that this approach allows the student to build up their confidence in the material, which directly translates into a willingness to learn and work hard.

In addition, I highly value communication during the tutoring process. This involves keeping parents updated with how lessons are progressing and what was covered and could also include reaching out to school teachers to learn more about the material being covered. This also allows both the student and parents to give me feedback if a certain style of teaching helped a lot or not as much. A big support system around the student is incredibly important to creating a productive environment.

I love seeing that aha moment on students faces, and Id love to see one on yours! I encourage you to reach out if you not only want to meet your goals, but exceed them. I look forward to hearing from you.

Alex’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Drexel University - Bachelors, Biomedical Engineering

Graduate Degree: Drexel University - Current Grad Student, Biomedical Engineering

Test Scores

SAT Math: 800

SAT Verbal: 720

Hobbies

I am a huge tech geek! I love reading about the latest and the greatest in technology and actually run a small YouTube channel where I post tech review videos. When not working on that, I enjoy binging an entire season of a show on Netflix or riding my bike through the local park trails.


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I highly value an interactive lesson style. I know how boring it can be to sit through an hour long lecture listening to someone explain something. Not only is it tough to focus that long, but you really don't have a chance to demonstrate what you know either. Because of that, I give my students many opportunities during the lesson to work on practice problems as well as explain the material back to me. In addition to breaking up what would otherwise be a verbal lecture, it also allows me to gauge the student's understanding and level, further tailoring the lesson to their needs.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

I split my first session into two parts. The first half involves learning more about the student, what grades they currently have, what their goals are, and a diagnostic examination to figure out what level they are at. Following that, I like to jump straight into the material. The lessons at school don't wait, so I don't either! Homework is assigned for the first session, and it is expected that all future sessions will be completely content based.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

There's the age old saying about teaching a man to fish, and I believe the same applies for tutoring. Sure, I could teach you the exact steps you need to do one problem, but what happens when you get a slightly different problem that requires slightly different steps? In fact, many topics build on top of each other and that requires a more in-depth understanding of the material and how it can be applied. When I tutor, I like to explain how answers are derived and why certain steps are taken to get there. This allows the student not only to learn the steps for the particular problem, but also the fundamentals that go into those steps and how they can be applied to more challenging problems.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Motivation is critical in achieving success. Time and time again, I have seen high motivation correlate with high success. Oftentimes, a student may feel discouraged by difficult material. I have found that breaking the problem down into smaller, simpler problems usually helps quite a bit. These simpler problems are always things that the student feels comfortable with, so we can slowly build up from there. A good analogy is if someone throws you into a deep pool and you can't swim. With my approach, I help you get to the shallow end, and we slowly walk together into deeper and deeper water until you are confident you can swim alone!

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

One of the biggest things I learned from my experience as both a tutor and a student is that people have different learning styles. Because of that, I have many ways of explaining the same problem to different students depending on their strengths and preferences. For some, I will use a more visual approach, while for others, I will use a more relatable example from real life. Regardless of your learning style, I have the expertise and patience to work with you until we figure it out. Luckily this is something we only need to figure out in the beginning and the information can be applied to all future tutoring sessions.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

I evaluate the student's needs in the first half of the first session (or through email/phone). This involves learning about the student's current grades, what topics they are struggling with, and what their goals are. In addition, it is often helpful to see previous exams or quizzes to further diagnose any places the student consistently struggles.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

In a tutoring session, I have a wide variety of resources available to me. The material that is most helpful to me comes from the student. This includes any textbooks or worksheets used, as well as any previous homework assignments. If that is not available, I have textbooks in my possession that can supplement the school material. For homework purposes, I use materials from the student's textbook, my textbooks, or online worksheets that I find to be representative of their work.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

In order to demonstrate a good understanding of the material, I look for two main things. First, is the student's ability to explain the problem back to me and why the solution works out the way it does. Anyone can memorize the steps to solve a problem, but teaching someone else the material shows competency. Another metric I use to gauge understanding is the ability to make educated guesses on solving harder problems. In many subjects, the material builds on fundamentals, so a good understanding of those fundamentals is expressed in a logical approach to more challenging problems. I am not looking for necessarily the complete correct solution, but the ability to get the problem started.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

There are two main reasons I find students to be disengaged from their materials. The first is a feeling of being too far behind, in which case many people start to think "Well I didn't understand the material from two months ago, so I probably won't understand this either." I would try to resolve this attitude by bringing the student back to the point at which they stopped following the class material, and we would work to relearn it again and make them feel comfortable with the material they have now. The second reason many students appear disengaged is because of a lack of understanding for why they are learning this. They ask the all too familiar question "Why do I need to know this, I'll never use it." For this, I like to either explain a real-life application of the material or perhaps give an example of a future problem where the current material is used.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

A student's confidence is one of the biggest indicators of their upcoming grades. Generally, the more confident the student, the more familiar with the material they are, and the better they perform. Because of this, it is a key aspect in my tutoring sessions to instill a sense of confidence in the student. Whether this involves relearning the basics or teaching using a method different from how their teacher taught it, there IS a way out there for the student to understand. Once that method is discovered, future learning becomes significantly easier.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Part of the initial consultation with the student is designed for me to figure out what the student's strengths and weaknesses are and what they do and don't feel comfortable with. Depending on their preferred teaching style, I will custom tailor my lesson plans to include more or less lecture and more or less examples to best facilitate learning. To further strengthen the feedback with the student and their parents/teachers, I have an open line of communication going both ways where I report progress made during the lessons, and they can report their thoughts.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

One of the biggest issues I see students face comes not when doing the material with me, but when doing it on an exam. When there is a time limit and a grade depends on it, it is really easy to read too fast and miss some important information. This could cause the student to reread the passage, spending even more time, and further fueling the panic. Instead, I find it extremely useful to teach the student to just slow down. Read the material carefully and at your own pace. Make notes on the sides and underline any important information. This way you spend the same amount of time reading as you would two or three times quickly, but you extract much more information.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

When working with a new student, it is vital to show them that this is an environment where mistakes are okay, questions are okay, and taking your time is okay. This isn't an environment where I expect perfection the entire time. If that were the case, I wouldn't be there. Once the student feels comfortable, they are more willing to engage in the lesson and participate in the problem-solving process.