Do you offer consultations and assessments?
Yes, I am a big proponent of using diagnostic assessments to identify a student’s areas of strength and weakness in a subject. During the first session, apart from starting to build a rapport with the student, I also administer a diagnostic assessment. I communicate my findings from the diagnostic assessment to the student and his or her parents, so that everyone is on the same page and a plan can be created in addressing the misconceptions and gaps in understanding that the student harbours. I keep parents updated on the progress that the student is making during the tutoring sessions throughout the year. I’m always open to having a conversation with the student’s parents on what can be done to improve the student’s learning outcomes. I continue to use frequent assessments in the form of quizzes and worksheets to check for comprehension throughout year.
What is your teaching approach?
I use the gradual release of responsibility framework (GRR) when teaching. I start off with explaining a concept or modeling how to solve a problem. Next, I move on to guiding the student to solve a similar problem. Lastly, I ask the student to solve a related problem with little guidance from me. I would say that I use a problem-based approach when teaching and tutoring. I teach students concepts through problem solving and investigations. I strive for students to be given an opportunity to discover the learning on their own through inquiry-based activities. My role in teaching and tutoring is to guide a student rather than be a lecturer. There is always a significant amount of time dedicated to guided practice during the sessions that I have with students. There’s always time dedicated during the session to have a discussion and for the student to ask me questions. I make sure to check for understanding many times throughout the session.
What happens during a typical tutoring session?
I start off each tutoring session taking up questions that a student had from the homework that I assigned during a previous session. I also see if the student has any general questions. I try to dedicate a little bit of time to reviewing concepts covered previously in order to reinforce them and activate the student’s prior knowledge. I preach that repetition is the mother of learning. Most students need to be exposed to the same concept at least three times in order to retain it. After that I move on to going over new concepts and giving the student time for guided practice during the session. At the end of a tutoring session, I assign homework exercises for a student to complete before the next session. The purpose of these homework exercises is to reinforce what was covered during the lesson. I always give my students an opportunity to continue learning even after the session is over.
Are you able to deliver the curriculum in a course? Do you have access to the necessary resources?
I am able to teach the curriculum in most Ontario grade 9-12 high school math and science courses since I’m an Ontario certified math and science teacher and have taught most grade 9-12 math and science courses in schools over the last decade. I am also familiar with the curriculum for IB and AP courses. I have taught IB and AP courses in prior years and prepared students for IB and AP examinations. I have access to textbooks for each high school math and science course as well as teaching resources such as notes, course packs, quizzes, tests, and final exams. I share the supplementary resources that I use with students that I teach.
Do you have experience tutoring students with anxiety and mental health struggles?
On a day-to-day basis I work with students that at times suffer from anxiety and may also have other mental health struggles. As a high school educator, I have accommodated the needs of students with a known history of anxiety and mental health issues in my classes. As a tutor and mentor, I have learned to give students the tools to address their anxiety. Anxiety is usually most severe before a test or major deadline. It arises because the sufferer feels unprepared and is worried about the consequences of underachieving. For test anxiety, the strategies I use involve creating a topic outline and methodically going over the topics, so that the student feels confident that they have covered and learned all that will be evaluated on the test. There has to be as little uncertainty as possible. Thorough preparation is the key to avoiding the student becoming too anxious to write the test. Having the student complete mock tests also helps them alleviate their anxiety once they start to notice that they are capable of solving the problems and answering the questions from the unit on which they’re being evaluated on. Another strategy involves preparing for a major evaluation as early as possible. As a tutor, I’m able to teach the topics of a unit to a student before they have been covered in class. Covering the concepts of a course ahead of time often heightens a student’s confidence in the subject and makes him or her less likely to become anxious before assessments.
Do you have experience working with students with special needs?
I have taught classes with students with learning exceptionalities over the years and have learned to put in place accommodations and modifications in order to ensure the success of all students in my classes. I have also tutored many students with learning exceptionalities over the last decade and have learned that every student is different and requires a unique and tailored approach in order for their needs to be met. Students with learning exceptionalities greatly benefit from the reinforcement of knowledge that takes place during tutoring sessions. A large part of improving the learning outcomes of students with special needs is to work with them on becoming more organized and improving their study habits. Apart from going over the material being covered in school, I also teach students how to learn. Knowing how to learn and being good at learning is a skill that can be developed and worked on. I go over note taking strategies and the keys to effective test preparation.
Do you offer tutoring to mature students and students enrolled in college programs?
Yes, I have tutored many mature students over the years. I have helped many mature students get accepted into college and university programs by guiding them through prerequisite high school courses. Many mature students end up being enrolled in asynchronous online courses that don’t have an instructor guiding them through the material and find tutoring beneficial in helping them understand the concepts covered in the online course. I have also been helping college students with their math and science courses over the years. I have found that there is a great deal of overlap between high school university prep courses and college courses.
Do you offer a program that helps middle school students transition to high school?
Yes, I have been preparing many grade 7 and 8 students for high school courses over the last decade. I pre-teach the grade 9 math and science curriculum to the students that are part of this program. The majority of students that have been enrolled in my headstart program were set up to do exceptionally well in grade 9 courses; many of them attained marks in the high 90s. A strong foundation in grade 9 math and science allowed these students to then go on and be as successful in grade 10, 11, and 12 high school courses.
How has the pandemic affected students’ learning? Are students prepared to do well next school year?
I believe that the pandemic has negatively impacted the learning of students. It made the vast majority of students develop bad habits such as being overly reliant on technology. Students have relied on search engines to find answers to questions, as well as used certain apps such as photomath, which are able to solve problems using a built-in algorithm and AI. Using technology as a crutch has not allowed students to develop and master certain skills that they’ll need proficiency in to be successful during the next school year. Being online for certain evaluations has allowed students to compare answers and at times resort to copying from each other. Having this option has prevented some students from developing independence and critical thinking skills, since they were reliant on others to help them. The grades that many students received over the last school year are not truly reflective of their ability for the reasons mentioned above.
The pace at which courses progressed due to the quadmester model did not allow students to learn the material of each course in great breadth. Students are likely to have major gaps in knowledge and understanding which will hurt them next year. The quadmester model was very detrimental to students that are not able to learn at an accelerated pace and need more time to process what they learned. In many instances, teachers did not have time to cover entire units since there just wasn’t enough time. Many students are going to be unprepared for the courses that they will be taking next school year. Students will also have a difficult time adjusting to writing evaluations in class in a controlled and time restricted environment where they won’t have access to their notes and textbook, and also will not have access to the internet and their friends. The crutches that they have grown to rely on will be taken away from them abruptly. Many students will likely start the school year not doing well in their classes and that is likely to disturb their self-esteem and confidence. They might start to dislike subjects that they may have enjoyed in previous years because they’ll find it difficult to do as well as in past years.
What video conferencing platform and technology do you use for online tutoring? How does online tutoring compare to in-person sessions?
I mostly use zoom for online tutoring sessions. I have also used google meet in the past. I find zoom to be superior to most other video conferencing platforms because of its ability to allow screen annotation which other platforms do not offer. Annotation allows for the student and I to annotate on the screen that I’m sharing or that the student is sharing with me without having to rely on the use of a digital whiteboard. Zoom also makes it easy to share files such as PDFs, PowerPoints, and Word documents.
I use a Surface Pro device and also sometimes use an iPad Pro when tutoring online. Both of these devices are ideal for online tutoring sessions since they have touchscreens and allow me to annotate using a stylus. Students see everything that I’m writing during the session and I am able to share notes taken during the session with them at the end of each session. I mostly use OneNote to annotate on Word documents and PDF files. The other advantage of using a Surface Pro is that it has an HD 1080p webcam and stereo microphones, so students are able to see and hear me clearly during sessions.
I have found online sessions to be as effective as in-person sessions. One major downside of in-person sessions in the age of COVID is the requirement of wearing a mask. Wearing a mask impedes communicate since it is impossible to read facial expressions and at times difficult to comprehend what someone is saying. There is also a peace of mind associated with no risk of COVID exposure and spread in an online environment. It has also become easy for me to check the work of students if they are writing on paper because they can quickly send me a photo of their work and I can send them back their work with corrections since I am able to annotate on an image using my iPad.