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My most successful tutoring experiences occurred when I could just sit with a student and ask them what they know about the subject at hand. This process seems to allow the student room to work through their mental blocks. Usually, they come up with a reasonable explanation of a solution to the problem at hand. By the second or third time of meeting, a more sophisticated explanation emerges, i.e. a deeper understanding of the process called mathematics.
To break the ice, a few problems that they can readily relate to can be a big help— problems such as computing an hourly wage needed to pay the rent. After working in sales taxes and payroll deductions, calculating percentages has become a necessary part of my life that I like to share with others. Even students that can handle the abstract seem to benefit from applications of math to daily problems.
My professional career includes teaching graduate level courses in soil physics, mechanics of erosion and statistical processes. As a teacher, I find that projecting confidence and providing encouragement are essential elements in allowing student to learn.
In my graduate school training, I took graduate level math and engineering courses. However, the most influence in my education was my high school math teacher, who just happened to have a PhD in math. The confidence that he projected convinced me that math was an approachable and useful subject.
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