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I think that one of the most important questions for parents or students to ask a potential tutor is what their teaching style is like. Is the tutor strict, gentle, authoritative, a "study buddy"? Assuming that a tutor is qualified in their subject(s), the most necessary thing is that they get along well with their student's learning style and that they "click" as a pair. Having a tutor that understands the student and responds to their needs outside of their work can be essential for a pleasant and even fun tutoring experience. As a tutor I definitely tend towards the encouraging and "study buddy" style of teaching! I don't usually assign tasks to complete alone or preside over a silent homework session, I chat with the students and help talk them through their work or any questions they might have. This seems especially helpful for younger students; a bit of positive reinforcement can go miles with a shy or beginning student, who may not... read more

Now that the summer is winding down and schools are starting again, this is a great time to start thinking about tutoring for the school year! Many students need a little pre-school refresher on some of their past subjects, while others want someone who can help them get back into the swing of things with the new material they get to learn. In particular, subjects that build on themselves over the years such as math and science can be intimidating to start again, especially if the student doesn't fully remember what they learned the previous year. This is a great chance to nip in the bud any worries about falling behind or getting lost; a tutor can compensate for forgotten concepts with extra review, or explain newer material in the context of reteaching the old. Perhaps on the most practical level, as school schedules and activities fall into place it becomes possible to figure out when tutoring could fit into a busy week! Parents can start to get an idea of what their... read more

When I teach basic chemistry, everything eventually comes back to valence electrons. Those are the electrons of an atom that do all the interesting things, like sharing and moving around and leaving, and ultimately determine how an atom will behave (what kind of ion it might form, who it might bond with, etc.) And when teaching about valence electrons, I find it helpful to personify them. Technically electrons don't "like" or "dislike" anything, nor do atoms "want" things, but it's much more memorable to say that high-energy electrons are "totally cool with leaving, and their metal atom didn't want them anyways, so off they go!" than it is to talk about tendencies and probability areas right off the bat. Naturally I also include the more correct and precise description, but what always seems to stick best is the personified and vivid images -- I find it easiest to remember the relationships between atomic particles when I can treat... read more

While some people argue that the 5 paragraph essay isn't a very sophisticated style of writing (or is too limiting a format) I think that nothing beats it for teaching a student how to construct a basic paper. I've had a lot of success organizing writing in the outline of a 5 paragraph essay, and it's a clear and concise example of how to write an introduction, body, and conclusion without getting overwhelming or complicated. A useful tool for me is to draw out the content-free outline ahead of time (Intro, Body 1, 2, and 3, Conclusion) and have the student fill it in with their own thoughts and ideas as a semi-organized brainstorming session. Once all the main ideas are plugged into the outline then we can go back and move around sentences, add transitions between paragraphs, and develop a solid conclusion before beginning the first draft. Even just having the 5 paragraphs in front of them, written out in a visible linear way, can help students understand the structure... read more

I'm definitely loving my algebra tutoring so far! I've tutored math before at various levels, but it's been a while since I've tutored in algebra and I have to say I'm really enjoying revisiting the subject. Algebra is one of those math skills that is *always* useful, even in day-to-day life, and it's great brushing up on some of the concepts and skills -- I'll admit that I've had to pause a few times to double-check that all my x's and y's are in the right places, but just like riding a bicycle, writing an algebraic equation is one of those things you don't forget how to do. It's also great seeing how everyone approaches math differently. Some students aren't fans of word problems, for example, but I love them. That's the kind of math everyone encounters in their lives, and knowing how to do it not only lets you pass math classes, it can save you time and money to boot! :)

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