I have had the good fortune of tutoring several high school and college students in math and science over the years. When I first start tutoring someone, s/he is often frustrated and discouraged, so my first objective is to get his/her confidence back. That is even more important than the subject matter, as important as the subject matter is. Once the person's confidence returns, then s/he will be more receptive to what I am teaching, and significant improvement will follow.
One person came to me a few years back having flunked two chemistry exams. I was able to work with this person and, through his dedication, he improved significantly. He graduated last year with a degree in pharmacy. Another person I taught failed the first chemistry quiz of the semester (2 out of 10). I worked with this person, and he went on to do very well in the course.
The approach that I take is that, as long as students don't give up on themselves, I won't give up on them either, regardless of what their grades are. I know someone who got a C- in the first chemistry course that he took, then got an A in the second one. The same can happen for other struggling students as well.
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