I have always loved math so when I went to college, a degree in engineering seemed like the perfect choice. After college I worked in the aerospace industry for 10 years as a systems engineer on several satellite programs. Although I enjoyed my job, I wanted to spend more time with my family. It was then that I discovered I absolutely love working with students. I became a part-time math teacher in a small private school, teaching everything from Algebra II to Calculus III. I love showing students different ways to approach a problem that helps them understand it. Helping them succeed is so exciting!
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Missouri University of Science and Technology - Bachelor of Science, Aerospace Engineering
Graduate Degree: Missouri University of Science and Technology - Master of Science, Aerospace Engineering
Reading suspense/mystery novels and spending time with my family/friends
What is your teaching philosophy?
Teaching should be to the individualized student since every student is unique with their own learning style.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would find out how they have done in math in the past and what they are trying to achieve in this class. It helps to know how to approach math with the student.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
It is best to teach solid foundations so they can apply their understanding of the concepts to future problems on their own.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Positive feedback is key. The best way to do this is to take the more complicated problems and break them down into steps that they can feel good about when they correctly solve them. Students may not grow to love math, but the more confident the student becomes the more motivated they are.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
As a teacher, it is necessary to step back and approach the problem from a different way. Continuing to repeat yourself will rarely make progress in the student's understanding. Multiple examples may also be key to making sure that the concept is truly understood.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
The impact in math subjects is to break each sentence down in word problems. Having students write down what they learn from each sentence helps them to translate that into the mathematical formulas they will need.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I found the key is to help them first feel comfortable with you as a teacher. This only needs to take a minute, but letting students know that you care about how they are doing helps motivate them to learn from you. Then, you can address where they are at in math. Learn their strengths and weaknesses by asking how they have done in the past, what they liked, what they didn't like, etc.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Building a student's confidence is key. Giving praise is a must--even at the small steps. As the student's confidence rises, so will their engagement in the lessons. You'd much rather work at something you enjoy than hate.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
A teacher needs to make sure that you lead a student to a solution rather than just give a solution to their problem. It also helps if the students understands the concept rather than just knowing the steps to get to a solution. The final thing that is key, especially in math, is additional problems with the same concept. It helps reinforce it so in the future they are much more capable of recalling what they know.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Pointing out the student's successes on individual steps goes a long way to raising their confidence. Students sometimes think more complicated problems are too hard, but if you help them break down the processes they can see how they already know how to do it and be confident that next time they can do it.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Asking questions is key, as well as looking at the student's work to see their thought process. Getting the right answer is not as important as determining that the student knows the processes to get to the answer. Watching their thought processes can help determine where a student's struggle is. Surprisingly, many times it will be something the student struggled on in basic math. Once that is identified and corrected, students build up more and more confidence in math.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Math sometimes has many ways to think about a problem. If you see a student struggling to grasp the concept, instead of repeating it a third time, it is best to approach the concept a different way, if possible. If it is a harder topic, many times showing how it relates to something a student already knows how to do can clarify it. Other times, real world applications work best as examples.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
The most important thing for me is scratch paper. I tend to work most problems out (was never a great mental math person - except for formulas). I also make sure I have my calculator and reference sheets. If it is calculus, I usually like to have Wolfram Alpha available just to quickly bring in another source as reference.