I grew up in the Bay Area, going to high school at Palo Alto High School and taking math classes at Lydian Academy. I went away to college at Hampshire College in Massachusetts, where I studied astronomy and physics after briefly dipping into linguistics. One of the things that became clear to me was how different the attitude towards learning was in college: students are encouraged to explore and challenge themselves in a way that wasn’t even considered in high school. It highlighted how everybody learns differently, how techniques that work for one person can completely fail for another, and how everyone comes in with a different viewpoint. Our professors had faith that we would push ourselves to find new ways of looking at problems, and that’s something I bring to my tutoring sessions.
I came to love math during one-on-one tutoring with a mentor late in high school. It took dedicated attention and care to help me overcome my difficulties and begin to thrive. With that help behind me as I went away to college, I found myself enjoying my math classes for the first time, going so far as to organize a group independent study when higher math classes were unavailable and co-leading the Math and Physical Science Interest Club. Some of the most interesting topics I learned about were ones at the intersection of abstract math and the real world, and topics like those helped me solidify my understanding of math. I also volunteered at the Quantitative Resource Center, a help-desk for students struggling with math or science problems.
For me, the most important thing to figure out in helping a student overcome their difficulties is finding out where the student is coming from. This is the real advantage to a one-on-one format: I’m able to determine whether a student needs their problems to be grounded in reality or in abstraction; whether they understand things more visually, concretely, or orally; and more about what learning style makes sense for this student. Additionally, in my experience, it’s far from uncommon for a difficulty understanding a mathematical topic to be rooted in an earlier misunderstanding, and working to go back and find the source of any unsteadiness is something that can only be done one-on-one.
Outside of tutoring, I enjoy fiber arts (knitting, weaving, and spinning), creative writing, and roleplaying games.