When I work with students I am cognizant of the fact that I have a limited amount of time to convey a math concept or idea. A student will ask a question or may make a misstep in solving a problem and I know that once I start talking I only have their attention and open-mindedness for a short amount of time. This is for a number of reasons. One reason is that some students just want to know the answer to the current question that they are working on and not necessarily anything more. Another reason is some students have limited patience and/or attention span. A third reason is that some students can get bogged down by too much information. So what is a tutor to do? I am careful to choose my words and examples carefully so as to make maximum impact in the short amount of time that I have their attention and open mind. I aim to answer their questions plus give them a little more to deepen their understanding and improve their math skills.
We could fill up volume after volume discussing this topic but still let's go into it a little bit here. I periodically ask students how they are doing in their math class and what grade they are getting. Sometimes the answers to these questions don't seem to match. A student may say, 'I'm doing good.' What grade are you getting? 'B-' is the response. Some students are just coasting by and not putting in a good effort and seem to casually accept a B- as good 'enough' though they know they could achieve higher. On the flip side, some students are taking an advanced math class or honors class and are working their tail off and earn every percentage point of that B- and are discouraged. There are so many factors that determine what grade a student may get that I wouldn't rush to make any self judgements such as 'I'm not good at math' or 'I'm not A material,' etc. Math is a collection of topics. Some like Geometry you may enjoy while others such as Probability you may abhor. One chapter you may completely ace and with the next you may have quite a struggle. Some teachers make math easy for you to understand and you may resonate with their style of teaching while others you may not. In spite of everything you need to ask yourself if you are putting in your best effort and if there is a way you can improve or are you doing your best already. When the grades come in you can see if you want or need to change your approach.
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