I started tutoring when I was in high school in Cuba, seven years ago. At the beginning it was a study group. As a typical study group, we all shared ideas, discussed problems and different approaches, but mostly I was helping people with math while they were helping me with history. After a few months of being in the study group I realized that I was not just helping my friends. There were also friends of my friends coming over to understand math. That was when I realized, that I did not simply understand math very easy, I was also good at explaining my friends. By the end of high school I had perfected a little my teaching skills. Then I moved to the U.S. It took me a few months to understand the language, and a little longer to start school due to immigration regulations. When I started school (Florida Gateway College) I focused mainly on learning a proper English. By the second semester I took my first math class in the U.S. It was College Algebra. There was a person sitting in front of me during class, who was having frequent questions. I started helping him during class, then after class, then three days a week. He started getting really good grades (That person is one of my best friends nowadays). The fourth time we met after class, he brought another of our classmates. By the second month we were five. By half of the semester we were seven from my College Algebra class on Mondays and Wednesday, and four from other classes during different times of the week. I realized as a pattern, that when you set the foundations of what you will be speaking about with terms that everyone knows, people were really understanding the concepts and were doing better in class. I had also become more patient and had learned what areas my friends were having problems with, and that the solution was to find a connection with those areas they were having a solid understanding about. Then I started taking Trigonometry and later Calculus. By that time I was already a personal tutor with a few students. Some of them were high school students whose parents had heard from me from friends and school. I had perfected some techniques. First the students needed to know where the things (theorems, ideas, formulas, etc., etc.) came from. If it was a formula, I explained everything I could according to their level, and I would assign a word for that formula that I knew they would remember. Some of the students were simply good at understanding math: they remembered the formula very easy, they did not need no mnemonics. Others needed a more thorough explanation. First by associating with math concepts they knew; then by associating with things from the real life they had a profound knowledge of. But at the end I always made sure they understood the mathematical concept, with mathematical terms and terminologies.
Right now I am taking high level math courses at the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am still tutoring students from my class and students from other classes. I have learned how to perfect those techniques even more. I have become a better tutor with a higher degree of passion and commitment.
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