I am a BYU student, an am currently working toward a bachelor's degree in Chemistry. As a student, I have found that I respect teachers more when they can understand the questions posed by my fellow students. I think that it is important to find out what a student knows before trying to teach a new concept. That way any misconceptions can be cleared up at the beginning, instead of fighting against them for weeks or even longer. I have taken classes in Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, and Writing, and believe that understanding students is one of my strengths.
Undergraduate Degree: Brigham Young University-Provo - Current Undergrad, BA Chemistry
Outside of school I enjoy reading science fiction and fantasy books, hiking, rock climbing (although I'm not very skilled at it), playing computer and video games, and practicing the martial art of aikido. It's super cool, ask me about it sometime.
What is your teaching philosophy?
Students already have an idea of how the world works, and listening to them express what they understand (right or wrong) gives the teacher a better picture of how to teach them. Explaining things in their own words also forces students to think about their ideas in new ways, and can help them learn.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I want to find out what they are studying, what is giving them trouble, and start exploring concepts that lay the foundation for what they are currently struggling with.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Independent learning is a myth. Okay, maybe that is overstating it, but seriously, in difficult college classes, the people who do well are often the ones who know how to study with friends and get help from the professors and teaching assistants. It isn't nearly as important to be able to learn on your own as it is to learn how to get the help you need.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
That probably depends a lot on the student. I can help make some material more interesting and even exciting, I can offer epic music options and short study breaks, or I can do push-ups while they work a problem and tell them I hope they can finish before I collapse. If none of those things work, I'll find other tricks; I'm fairly creative.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Find out what related things they do understand, break it down into smaller parts, look for a physical demonstration or example, work the problem backwards from the answer (trickier in English or Reading than in other subjects, but still possible), and if all else fails, memorize through extra practice.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension is a skill you develop with experience. I would encourage students to read books at or just slightly above their current reading level for entertainment, and to look up words they don't know as they go. This will help build their vocabulary, and help them practice putting concepts they read together. Another idea is to "translate" a difficult sentence into easier language on a separate piece of paper, starting from the words or ideas they already know and then expanding to fit the whole sentence.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Mary Poppins says you can find the fun in any job, and then the job becomes a game. In chemistry, physics, or math, that usually means some sort of demonstration or experiment. In English or writing, it might mean finding a good book or passing secret messages because we are spies. It kind of depends on what the student already enjoys.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
1) Explain it to me without using the same words that I used. 2) Have them design a demonstration or activity to help someone else with it.