Tutor profile: Bradley B.
How would you go about helping a student who is struggling with Trig.
Trig really comes down to one very important concept that, once mastered, makes the entire subject incredibly easier. That concept is the unit circle. Every time I have had a student who is struggling in trig, I go back to the unit circle and teach is to the student until they have a strong grasp on it. Once they do, their understanding of the subject is improved ten-fold. The unit circle is by far the most important thing you learn in trig, followed by the trig theories and formulas. Like calculus, trig is really not that difficult of a course to master once you really understand the unit circle and how to utilize it. After that, memorizing the theories is probably the second hardest thing but that just comes with time and application. I enjoy teaching trig because I myself struggled with it in high school (back when I wasn't taking studying seriously) and thought it was the toughest thing ever and that there was no way I could learn it. It wasn't until I switched to engineering in college and took it again that I realized that it wasn't a very difficult subject and how important it was to master the unit circle.
Why do you believe students find calculus to be so challenging.
I believe students find calculus to be challenging for a few reasons. Number one, and most important, not everyone coming into calculus has a mastery of algebra and this is absolutely necessary if you want to exceed in calculus. Algebra is the very foundation in nearly all of calculus and if the student is lacking in this area, it is the very first thing I look to strengthen. Secondly, many students get confused by the theories and formulas in which calculus in taught. I understand the subject inside out and am able to explain these theories in a simplified manner which helps the student gain a stronger grasp on how to read and interpret calculus theories. Lastly, many students go through calculus not really understanding why they are doing what they're doing and how these formulas and practices are applicable to real life conditions (physics for example). I have found that once the student gains a better understanding as to why they're doing what they're doing and what it means (for example, finding the area under a curve by using integration techniques) they become much more confident in their ability. I truly don't believe calculus is as tough a subject as it's made to be and have seen this by raising students grades from a low C to a high B.
What sets you apart from other algebra tutors?
I believe what sets me apart from other algebra tutors is my ability to connect with the student and convey information in an easy to understand manner. Math has always come easy to me and I truly believe I see it in a different way than most do. Though, this may raise questions to my ability to be able to relay this information in an effective manner, I have no doubts that I can effectively do so given my history with tutoring students. Every student that I have tutored has seen their grade improve throughout the course of working with me. I have students tell me all the time that I do a fantastic job in breaking down the fundamentals and explaining them in a straight forward, easy to understand manner. Many algebra students struggle with the concept because it is the first class in which they deal with variables and this can throw them off. I make sure to focus on becoming comfortable in this area before moving on because I view this as being the most important essential fundamental to master before moving forward. I have found that once students truly become comfortable with dealing with variables, it makes them much more relaxed with tougher material and easier to learn and retain. I love helping others out because I know how frustrating it can be to struggle with a concept (engineering classes) and how invaluable it is to have someone sit you down and focus on strengthening your weak points.
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