Occasionally I come across a student that absolutely has a bad relationship with math. They don't believe they are capable of being good at math, they don't see the point in it, and they don't want to try and understand it.
I met with one such student recently. We went through the 'mechanics' of how to execute certain mathematical operations. We then took that one step further and discussed some real-life parallels and applications. We then repeated this pattern a number of times and then it occurred to me to ask this student, 'do you like math?'
Aha! Problem solved, or shall I say semi-solved. To make a long story shorter, I could try and teach, assist, and tutor this individual but without an internal shift my efforts would continue to be largely rejected.
My suggestions to a student and family such as this would be to first work on changing the student's relationship with math to more of a friendly one.
Second, there is talk these days of 'helicopter' parents. These are parents that are continually 'hovering' over their children too closely making sure all their i's are dotted and t's crossed, etc. There needs to be a shift in responsibility and accountability from the parent to the child. It may take some time but the parents need to empower the students to be more self accountable, self responsible, and to take pride in their own efforts to learn and manage their time and studying.
As a tutor, I aim to provide good quality instruction in a positive reinforcing manner. When I see obstacles to learning that go beyond just understanding math concepts I will tactfully mention these to parents. I always try to take a positive approach but some aspects of learning go beyond what I can personally provide.
I know of one tutor that won't tutor students unless the parents agree to make sure the students get 8 1/2 hours of sleep minimum per night otherwise he won't continue helping them. I haven't gotten this strict(...yet : ) ) but I do think it's important to continually look at all the factors that contribute to successful learning.
So, in conclusion, first check in with your child and see how they feel about math and their math class. Second, see if they are taking an active role in their own learning. Thirdly, look for other obstacles to successful learning such as lack of sleep, etc. Then allow tutoring to build on this excellent foundation.
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If you have never been tutored or have not found success with tutoring you may be wondering what goes on in a tutoring session-right?
First, let me start by telling you that a tutoring session can potentially be anything you would like it to be. The better a student is prepared with questions, topics they would like to discuss, etc. the more the session can be optimized to what a student would like to see happen.
Not every student is as self directed as above and some students are overwhelmed, lost, or at a loss as where to begin so I have a time tested approach that I generally follow and one which I find works for most students.
I start off by asking if there are any questions or concepts they don't understand. If so, we go over those items first. Then we spend some time going over current concepts followed by reviewing past topics and previewing upcoming sections. Lastly, we simulate the test taking experience to uncover hidden areas of difficulty and to iron out areas of confusion before exam day.
I've mentioned what can be covered in a tutoring session but I should also mention what should be avoided.
You don't want to turn your tutoring sessions into homework completion sessions. It's ok if you need some help with some problems on your homework but you don't want to spend your valuable time with a tutor just doing homework. Attempt to complete your homework before you meet so you can spend time on the few problems you might not understand.
Don't use your tutoring sessions as a replacement for classroom learning. Combine the two together so that they build on one another and you further refine and solidify your understanding.
Lastly don't be satisfied with 'good enough' and go into 'coasting' mode. Challenge yourself to go further and achieve higher than you even thought possible. Synergistically combine your effort, your classroom learning and your tutoring for optimum results!
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Mario DiBartolomeo shares his enthusiasm for learning through the math tutoring (PreAlgebra through PreCalculus) he offers and through his blog at www.mariosmathtutoring.com
Copyright 2015 Mario's Math Tutoring
What do you want from tutoring?
As this school year begins take a few moments to ask yourself what you want from your tutoring. If you know what you want this will help you focus your efforts toward your desired goal(s). Now, I must say that parents have hopes and dreams for their children but if the students themselves don't share those same ambitions there will be a disconnect and mixed results.
Let's look at some of the outcomes students may want to achieve from their tutoring:
1) Higher grades (this seems always to be #1 doesn't it?)
2) More confidence (less able to be quantified but also important)
3) Less Stress (Tutoring can help you get a grip on where you are at, help you review, and even get a head start so you are better prepared and ready for what comes your way)
4) Less time spent studying to achieve the same or better result(Tutoring can accelerate your ability to understand and apply concepts but still requires your own independent study)
5) Deeper Understanding(going beyond just good enough, and "passing" the test)
6) Study Skills and Organizational Skills(Learning how to learn will help students as they go on into college and are expected to be more self-directed in their studying)
...and I'm sure you can come up with even more beyond these but this is a start...
I have some additional things that I would like for students to get from tutoring as well...
1) Learn how to take an active(not passive) role in your learning. Know what you want to get out of your sessions and ask questions. Be involved and aim to get the most out of your sessions.
2) Have Fun. Really get immersed in the learning process and be interested in what you are studying. Even if it doesn't seem on the surface that interesting if you look at it more deeply and dive into it you will find something that is fascinating about what you are studying and will make learning easier and more satisfying too.
3) Don't be afraid of what you don't know. Students often tell me, "Oh this is so easy!" And I agree...What you don't know is difficult but once you really understand it it's super easy. So dig wholeheartedly into the tough stuff so that it can be "so easy."
I'm looking forward to helping you make this a great year. As I always say: Don't hesitate to call me, text me or e-mail me anytime and I'll get back to you ASAP.
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Sometimes parents call me and say, "you tutored so and so can you tutor my child? When can we start?" These parents know, like, and trust their friends, coworkers, etc. so they feel confident about working with me. Other parents read all about me on my website and get a feel for me, my personality, and my tutoring style. Still others want to know more so that's what this blog post is about...
Where do you teach/Why don't you teach in the schools?
Great question! When I did my student teaching at Ann Arbor Huron High School I found to my dismay that a lot of students weren't interested in learning(and they made it difficult for others to learn and extremely difficult for me as a classroom teacher). I said to myself(at least I don't think I said it out loud, LOL) "If students don't want to be here then neither do I. I only choose to teach students who are willing to make the effort. They don't have to be great at math but as long as they have a willingness to improve and work at it I'm happy to help." So long story short, I passed all my certifications, received my degree in secondary education from the University of Michigan but at the present time I only work individually or with small groups of students as a private tutor.
How did you get into tutoring?
There is a retired Detroit public school teacher named Mrs. Sweet who gave me my first regular opportunity to work individually with students. She ran 4 tutoring centers in the area that no longer exist. I once asked her, "After 30 years as a teacher, what is your secret?" She told me, "When students do something correctly praise them to the stars!" I've always remembered this and she is one of the people I credit with helping me to be a good tutor.
Are You Married?
This is kind of a funny one because I'm not sure how to take this or where people are going with this one : ) I'm engaged to be married, no date set yet, but sometime soon!
Where Do You Live?
I have lived in the Rochester/Rochester Hills area for many years. My fiancee and I recently bought a house in Rochester Hills.
How Old Are You?
This is a funny one too! Remember Doogie Howser, M.D.? It was a T.V. show about a child prodigy who became a doctor at a young age and on the show nobody could believe that here was this kid who was treating patients. Anyhow, people always wondered how old he was. If you remember the show then you'll have a clue of my age.
How Many Students Do You Tutor?
A lot! I really enjoy it and wish I had even more time to offer to students and families.
Now you know some of the common ones I frequently get asked. If you have others let me know...I can add them to this post. And now that you know a lot about me...you'll have to tell me something about you!
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Ok, I hope you are enjoying your summer but I know in what seems like the blink of an eye school will be starting once again.
So, right now as you are enjoying the wonderful relaxation of summer, set a goal for yourself this year with regard to your math performance.
If you normally get C's make it your goal to get a solid B this year. If you usually get B's make it your goal to get up into the A/A- range, etc.
Ok, now that you've set your goal, work backwards from there.
What will it take to get that result? Daily studying? Extra help from your teacher or classmates? Studying and practicing for quizzes and tests(not just taking them)?
Ok let's take another step backward from there.
Make a list of all the things you have to do, want to do, and would like to do and block off the time that you will dedicate to all your activities. Is math in there? Figure out when you will do your math and study your math(two different things!)
I used to use different strategies when I was in school. Sometimes I would do the subject I disliked the most...to get it out of the way and off my plate. Other times I would do the most important thing first to make sure if I ran out of time that at least that one was completed. And still other times I would get the little things done first to help me feel like I was checking things off and building up momentum before tackling the dreaded subject. Find out works for you and use/devise your own special hacks to maximize your results.
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I'm always encouraging students I work with to continually improve. I, too, work on continually improving my math skills and tutoring skills. In addition to the in-person tutoring that I offer, I'm now adding online tutoring! The possibilities here are endless. If a student is out of town, but still would like to get some tutoring in, we can still meet. Or, some of the seniors I work with go onto college but occasionally wish that they could review some concepts - now they can. And I'd like to make Mario's Math Tutoring available to English speaking students in other places around the world. My first priority is with my local in-person students and would like to use this mode of tutoring to further help them, but it will also be great to help others too. -Mario
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Now is the time to start going back over old chapters and concepts you may have forgotten. Finals are a double edged sword. On the one edge if you do well the 20% towards your semester grade could boost your grade up. However, on the other edge, if they are taken too lightly you can just as easily slide down a letter grade. Here's the secret in case you don't know it already- Finals aim to be comprehensive, but given the limited time to take the test, only the key concepts are focused on not the minutiae. So, knowing this, go back over your old quizzes, tests, chapter reviews in the book, and do the study guide(twice) that your teacher gives you. Focus on the core topics first then dig deeper into the finer details.
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I had an experience this past weekend that I'd like to share with those that follow my blog here. I was reminded of how tutoring is an investment. Tutoring is an investment of a student's and family's time, effort, and money. One of my long time students recently informed me that they got admitted into all the top schools: U of M, MSU, Stanford, and many more. Not only that, but they were admitted with sizable scholarships too! They decided upon a school that provided them with a full scholarship including books, a computer, and admittance into the medical scholar program(meaning that they were already admitted and guaranteed their seat in medical school). They were very committed to the tutoring and their efforts and investment really paid off. His mother informed me that I played a big part in her student's success and it was nice to hear such a nice compliment.
(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
The end of the school year is coming and with the nice weather it is even more important to stay focused and finish the year strong. Your study environment, if a good one, can help you get better results in less time. Try different study environments and see which one works the best for you. Generally, I recommend finding a well lit, quiet, undistracted place, where you have enough room to spread your study materials out in front of you. Ideally, you want a place where you can be uninterrupted. Consider hiding that cell phone for an hour or two, or put it on silent and only check it every hour(not every minute :)
When I was in college, I would seek out the most remote and quietest places to study. There were individual study rooms in the graduate library somewhere near the top floor where you could close the door behind you and hear a pin drop. Literally, I could hear my heart beating. Then there was the law library where you had to stake out your spot early in the evening and not dare move less you lose your spot and then close it down at 2 am. But when finals rolled around, every study room, library, coffee shop, nook and cranny of that university was filled with students studying. One semester found me making the rounds to my usual study spots and after finding one after another filled to capacity, I stumbled upon a particular library that had study space available! It was the smallest library on the campus...so small it was housed inside of another building. It focused on a particular subject area exclusively. Can you guess which one? The math library! Ha! It was filled with PhD dissertations, and other obscure math books. There was hardly a person there. So, in a pinch, that little math library saw me and my books there on occasion. Maybe some of that math in there even rubbed off a little on me, who knows?
So, stay focused and study well! Summer will be here soon enough and you can take it easy then.
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One thing that I notice is that when students get good at doing mental math(math calculations in their mind as opposed to on their calculator or on paper) they really light up with a sense of confidence and accomplishment. This fuels a positive cycle that propels students to convince themselves that they are indeed good at math and to enjoy getting even better at it. It all starts with knowing your basic multiplication tables, then understanding a bit about the distributive property, and it goes on from there. Take a look at the video below it truly is amazing! You don't have to be as good as this guy but learning a few mental math tricks can go a long way to helping you with almost every math problem you do, making it quicker, and more fun.
Helping students succeed in math for over 10 years. Individualized attention makes the difference!