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Academic Subject Matter Coaching

Why I Teach Younger Students

Having taught both academic subjects and test prep at the high school and undergraduate level and beyond, I have found that many bright students who underperform on tests do so as a result of the way they originally learned the material. Specifically, many students learn by rote and don’t understand the reasoning behind what they are doing. Because of this, their general problem solving skills are weak. If they are faced with a new problem and have not done an almost identical problem before, they will not be able to solve it. When students understand the 'why' behind problems more fully and are pushed to develop their reasoning skills, that ability and confidence makes them not only more likely to be successful, but also more likely to have an easier and less stressful time getting there. When working with students in their early twenties, I found myself wishing that I had been able to teach them when they were younger so what they were learning could have helped them earlier in life. That fact has led me to focus more on younger students in order to have more of an impact by providing them with the knowledge and tools to maximize success earlier in their academic careers.

What I Teach

While improving my student’s scores and helping them more fully reach their dreams is fulfilling in and of itself, the thing that gives me the most satisfaction is teaching them lessons that don’t just set them up to do well on a test, but also set them up to do well in life. Thus, I prefer to coach subjects that tie into the general skills of problem solving, critical reasoning, and effective communication.

Some examples of preferred subjects include:

  • Math (through algebra II)
  • Introductory Physics
  • Argument based essay writing, including application essays and standardized test essays
  • Introductory computer programming in Java, Javascript, Kotlin, or Python
  • Who I Teach

    I try to accept students with whom my particular teaching skills and style are likely to have the greatest impact. No one is the best fit for every possible student. I am most effective with self-motivated students who are academically inclined. I generally teach high school students, but will accept mature students as young as 12 for math-related subjects.

    Why not someone else?

    Good question! I’m a scientist by training, so I could never bring myself to claim to be the ‘best’ at anything. In fact, I’m sure that there are other people who could end up being great with your student. A few things that differentiate me are:

    Scope - If you just want your student to do well on one algebra test, I can do that. But there are other people who can probably do that too. There are few people, however, that have the range and perspective to enable them to teach toward future success as well. Since I’ve worked with students in many stages of their academic careers and in subject matter ranging from fundamental to highly technical, I've seen how the way things are learned affects a student's ability to do well in other areas and at subsequent stages of their career. That knowledge informs my approach to teaching. That is not something I could have known and taught toward before I gained significant experience.

    Experience - I have seen a variety of learning styles and can adapt and present material in different ways. I have also seen common challenges and points of misunderstanding and teach material in a way to address those issues before they arise.

    Proven - My record of success eliminates most of the risk that comes with choosing a new tutor for your student. If you hire a random undergraduate student who did well in a subject to tutor your student, there will be a lot of variability. You may find a student with a natural teaching ability that works out great and really helps your student with that class. Or you may not. Starting your student with a proven, experienced tutor maximizes the probability that your investment will be worthwhile.