I have dual bachelor's degrees in mathematics and applied language and intercultural studies from Georgia Institute of Technology. I’ve been tutoring grades 8-College for several years, and seeing the look on someone’s face when they finally understand a complex problem is still one of my favorite things!
I think that everyone has a method that they can best use to learn, and many students don’t learn the best they can from the public school system. When I start with a new student, I usually like to take time to ask them questions to get to know them, and also ask them to work me through their thought process for problems that they can solve. After that, I come up with problems similar to the ones they struggle with, and we work in how to use what they’re good at to be better at what they don’t think they’re good at. I believe that this is a good way to help students learn and retain knowledge, but also a great way to help them build confidence in the knowledge that they already have.
When I was tutoring at Georgia State University, I had a student who would come in consistently and ask me to do his calculus homework for him. He had no motivation to learn how to do better in the course, he only wanted to be finished. Of course I had to push back, because it is not the tutor’s job to do the assignment for the student, and I would ask him questions as we looked at the problems that he couldn’t figure out. Over time I learned that his lack of motivation mostly came from a lack of confidence; he had struggled in math classes his whole life, and he thought that this was the last one he would ever take, so he wanted to get it over with and pass. After a few weeks of tutoring, I was able to teach him some methods for figuring out problems that stumped him. He stopped asking me to just do the assignment for him, and instead came in with questions specific to each problem. By the end of the semester he had pulled his grade up to an A, and he felt so happy with how well he’d done that he decided to pursue a minor in mathematics!
When I’m not studying Japanese or doing mathematics, I am usually playing games or cooking, or obsessing over a new coffee brewing method.