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February 21, 2021

One-on-One English Language and Writing Tutors

English is incredibly frustrating. We often underestimate it’s difficulty, since it’s such an integral part of our lives. However, when it’s time to sit down and write an essay, we find our grammer doesn’t sound right. We struggle to make our sentences flow. The word count seems impossible to reach and our whole argument feels inconsistent.

Writing is more than just a trivial part of high school academics. It’s central to passing any university course and remains relevant in the professional world. If a student finds English challenging now, they’re going to have trouble crafting a compelling college admissions essay or expressing themselves concisely in a cover letter.  It could cost them job opportunities, promotions, research positions, and more.

At Tutor Portland, we understand the importance of helping kids master English now so they can excel later. Our tutoring focuses on helping students get the core principles of writing down, while also boosting comprehension and critical thinking skills. We offer tutoring for all kinds of writing, including college admissions essays, editing, research papers, standardized tests, descriptive essays and narrative work. Stick with us and we’ll have your kid reading and writing like a pro in no time.

Mastering Writing Basics

There are a lot of parallels between the high school English curriculum and communicating in the professional world. That’s because basics like thesis writing, crafting strong arguments, providing solid evidence and conducting thorough research are extremely relevant beyond grade school. Lawyers need powerful arguments to create contracts or defend clients. Business professionals must know how to present evidence to effectively share quarterly earnings. Scientists rely on strong research abilities to compile solid research papers. 

Working with an English tutor to hone in on these basics is remarkably helpful. Tutors read through essays to make sure a students’ arguments are in line with their thesis. They can determine if the evidence in an essay is really proving a point, or simply distracting from the main idea. An English tutor knows what relevant and impactful research looks like and help students incorporate it correctly.

At Tutor Portland, we can help teens apply these basics in any subject–not just English. For example, if your student is interested in science, but needs a little help with writing, we can tailor lessons to stronger research papers instead of just book reports. Say history is a student’s weak spot. An English tutor from Tutor Portland can help them identify strong sources and construct a powerful thesis with compelling arguments that explain the causes of the War of 1812. No matter what the task, we’ve got you covered.

Conquering Reading and Comprehension

If kids are struggling to get through assigned readings, an English tutor can help with that as well. Being able to effectively read and extract the valuable information from a document is an exceptionally useful skill. Tutors can go through class readings line by line to help kids see what data is really critical. This ability will come into play when teens are expected to read a dense credit card contract or understand a complicated economics lecture.

Not only that, but reading can be a way for young people to increase empathy, think more critically about life, and reflect on their own emotions. Reading literature allows students to step into the shoes of others and empathize with characters from different times and situations. Understanding how to digest and process non-fiction, like news stories or texts about history, politics and economics will bring students a greater understanding of the world. By guiding kids towards becoming better readers, tutors help students explore new perspectives.

When it comes to comprehension, a good English tutor steps in where teachers might be lacking. Oftentimes, teachers are just concerned with making sure kids read the assigned works, quizzing them on what happened in chapter five. A tutor can help kids really break down the material and pull out the most important information. They encourage kids to think deeper and ask them challenging questions that actually engage them in what they’re reading.

Cementing These Skills

Any good English tutor knows that the key to truly mastering language arts is the same as studying for science or math: careful repetition and putting in the hours.

I dedicated time to writing every single day when I was in college. This discipline and structure helped me improve my writing immensely. It gave me the power to ace college classes and land jobs after graduating. Now, my writing skills play an integral role in running my business and maintaining my blog. If students really want to write strong material, they’ll have to put in the reps. Tutors can create practice prompts or go through exercises with students to give them the repetition they need to succeed. 

Along with discipline, great writing requires a lot of trial and error. An A-scoring essay is not going to come easy. Students have to be willing to assess, rework and rewrite, no matter how much time and effort it takes. A tutor can guide students through this process and provide constructive feedback on every draft.

Additionally, an English tutor can apply a trained eye to students’ writing and identify how they can take it from acceptable to incredible. Even when the material in an essay is grammatically correct, that doesn’t mean it’s as strong as it could be. Ditching bland or overused words for more active, impactful language can elevate a piece of writing immensely. Changing sentence structure can make an essay much more digestible and persuasive. Tutors allow students to accelerate their writing skills beyond what they thought possible.

English Tutoring at Tutor Portland

At Tutor Portland, we know that tutoring isn’t one-size-fits-all, especially not for a subject as nuanced as English. We’ve got tutors from a wide range of backgrounds, ready to meet the needs of each individual student.  

Our English tutors can help your student with focused, intentional practice in the language arts. As college students and professional writers, they know how to create written work that’s not only grammatically correct, but compelling. They’ll equip your student to impress professors, amaze college admissions officers and achieve their wildest dreams.

If you’re ready to unlock your full potential, sign up for a free session today.

January 20, 2021

9 Necessary Study Habits for Academic Excellence

Studying. Few of us like to do it, but it’s totally necessary for nailing exams and earning awesome grades. If you think you’re a bad test-taker, you might be super smart, but lack some of the best strategies for effective studying. Here are some tips for excelling at studying and doing everything you need to ace your next test.

1. Plan a Study Schedule

You might think you should focus on the hardest subjects first, but that can be a counterproductive study habit. Instead, create a plan that designates extra time to focus on more challenging subjects but still includes time to review everything that’s going to be on the test. That way you’ll be well versed in all the topics you need to know and won’t be thrown off by a test question that references a subject you forgot to study. For example, if you have three hours to study for a test that covers six chapters of your textbook, and you really struggled with chapter three, create a plan like this:

Review Chapter 1 & 2: 30 minutes
Review Chapter 3: 50 minutes
Chapter 4-6: 55 minutes
Re-review Chapter 3: 45 minutes

This schedule prioritizes chapter 3 but still ensures that you review everything else at least once.  So instead of assuming that you’ll be able to recall information, you’ll go into the test 100% sure that you’re prepared for anything that could be on it. 

2. Create Essay Outlines

When you sit down to write a big essay for an end of semester project, it’s common to experience writer’s block. The weight of it’s importance can stir up so much anxiety that you feel totally out of ideas. 

Rather than starting off your writing session with no direction or plan, prepare an outline beforehand. This is a complete breakdown of everything you want to include in your introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. In the outline, you’ll want to include everything from clever hooks, transitional phrases, and quotations from outside sources. Outlining helps you determine the order of information you’re presenting and what ideas you want to focus on the most. That way when you sit down to write, all you have to do is transcribe everything into an essay format. If you need help getting started, use Scribbr to help you craft the perfect essay outline. 

3. Review Your Notes

This might sound obvious, but reviewing your notes before starting any assignment, even homework, is imperative. Doing a quick re-read not only assures you understand every concept before diving in, it can also prevent you from making critical mistakes, which is especially important for writing assignments. Make sure to read a writing prompt in its entirety so you know exactly how many paragraphs you have to write, what topics you need to discuss, and the format it needs to be written in. Nothing is worse than spending two hours on a 1,200-word essay only to realize it only needed to be 800.  

4. Test Yourself!

You don’t have to wait for the big exam to get into test mode. Create weekly quizzes for yourself so you can better absorb what you’ve been learning. Focus on identifying the main topics your teacher highlights, especially points that have been brought up multiple times, because they will be on the test. 

To find material for your practice test, use questions from quizzes you’ve already taken as well as review sections located in textbook chapters. You can also use online platforms like Complete Test Preparation to find practice tests for math, science, reading comprehension, and more. 

5. Compare with Friends

We’ve all had that one classmate who always seems to have the right answer and aces every test without even trying. Rather than seeing them as your biggest competition, use them as your greatest resource. Gather a group of your most prodigious classmates to do a weekly review of the lessons that’ll be on the test. Studying together helps you discover where you can improve, while you share your strengths to help others improve. This way, you’ll all become better students together!

6. List Your Distractions

Do you ever get distracted when you need to study? Not only by Netflix and phone notifications, but by chores too? Chores that your parents are harping about because they needed to get done yesterday? When other important tasks are competing with your studying duties, don’t ignore them. Instead, write them down and choose a time when you’ll be available to complete them. Set a timer that requires you to put in one hour of intense studying. When it goes off, allow yourself 10-20 minutes to get these chores done. 

Let’s be honest—many distractions, like texting your significant other, are far less imperative than chores. Many of us are tempted to check Instagram likes on our latest post or scroll through news stories on Twitter, when we should be focusing on studying for a final. This can lead us to take constant mini-breaks that grow into all-day distractions. Putting off our work all day can lead to feelings of guilt or stress as we run over schedule and fall behind on studies.

The solution is to not deprive ourselves of study breaks. Instead, we can reward ourselves for an hour’s worth of intense studying with 10 minutes of free time. This way, we give our minds a break and can indulge in our favorite pastimes, guilt-free. 

7. Study Offline

While we highly recommend using online platforms for study tips, time away from the computer allows you to purely focus on studying and not get distracted by the internet. Find a screen-free environment to study in, like the kitchen table, a comfy chair, or outdoors. This’ll give you a nice change of scenery and your eyes a break from the screen. 

There’s also plenty of online tools you can use without internet access like Desmos, which is a website that provides a variety of calculators and graphing tools. Use these tools while your computer is in offline mode. That way you’ll have access to all the helpful resources Desmos offers without being distracted by email or social media alerts.  

8. Leave Your Friends on Read

With instant messaging, friends are just a text away. But are group chats more important than grades? If you struggle to avoid text messages and Snapchats when you’re supposed to be studying, hold your friends accountable. Let them know that you have a big test to study for and won’t be reachable for the next few hours. If they know how important this test is, they won’t create unnecessary distractions to prevent you from succeeding. If they’re still hitting you up during studying sessions, put your phone on “Do not Disturb” and update your messaging settings so only emergency contacts can reach you while your studies are in session.

9. Ask Your Teacher

It’s good practice for students to regularly ask questions during class. It not only helps you better understand a subject but can provide clarity to other students who have the same questions. However, asking too lengthy of questions can monopolize your teacher’s ability to help other students, and can make you look inconsiderate of those who want to move on to the next lesson. Instead of disrupting other students’ time, pull your teacher aside after class and ask when they’ll have free time to help you with tougher subjects. 

Oftentimes teachers’ have office hours where you can get one-on-one help. Going to office hours demonstrates your intentions to improve your schoolwork and shows that you don’t want to take away from their in-class time. Plus it puts you on their good side—they might even be more willing to boost you to an A- when your end of semester grade is 89.8%.

…And if that Doesn’t Help

Every good teacher should be willing to provide extra help to students that need it. However, you won’t always have the privilege of teachers who are willing to help us during their off-time. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to seek tutoring in subjects that aren’t your strong suit. Here at Tutor Portland, we provide in-home and online tutoring sessions with first-class tutors throughout the Portland area. Each of our hand-selected tutors will provide you with the specialized attention you need to raise your grades, pass your tests, and get accepted to your dream school. Start your free online introductory session today!

December 31, 2020

The Six Best Portland Tutoring Companies (And Finding the Right One)

When your kid’s classroom is a black square on a Zoom screen, it’s no wonder they struggle to stay engaged. Students lose the personal experience they once had during in-person classes while learning from home creates plenty of new distractions. With the future of education taking a hard turn, the need for quality one-on-one tutoring is greater than ever!

Unfortunately, finding the right tutor can be pretty difficult…there are hundreds of names and websites to scavenge through! It can take forever to find tutoring that’s affordable, accessible, and right for your student. Who in the world has all that time?

Who are the Best Tutors in Portland, Oregon?

To make things a little easier for you and your family, we’ve gathered a list of the best tutoring companies in the Portland area, complete with information about what makes each one unique! This list includes companies that offer in person tutoring or online sessions, or both, so no matter what your preference, we’ve got you covered. Don’t spend hours scrolling through Google; we did the work for you! One quick read and you’ll be ready to get your kid learning in no time.

North Avenue Education

Looking for a personalized, holistic approach to tutoring? North Avenue Education is ready to provide incredibly through and varied tutoring services to your family. Not only do they offer academic tutoring in math and writing, they also provide specific programs for those preparing to take SATs or ACTs. 

If someone in your family is applying to college, North Avenue Education can offer them guidance on undergraduate and graduate applications. They also have study skills coaching, which is simply aimed at helping kids develop the right habits to stay focused and organized.

One unique offering from North Avenue is their “learning pods”, groups of students who study together in person (with the appropriate safety precautions, of course), or virtually. This small group approach is aimed at creating personal connections between students during a time when we all feel farther apart than ever.

Tutor Doctor

In this time of uncertainty, you’re probably pretty eager to be certain about something…like whether or not the tutoring service you choose will REALLY help your kid out. Luckily, Tutor Doctor reports a 95% satisfaction rate from their clients. And if you’re not happy with your experience, there’s also a 60 day money back guarantee!

Tutor Doctor offers tutoring on a large variety of subjects, including Spanish, German, Chinese, and English for non-native English speakers. They also emphasize the development of what they call “X skills” for every student. These are skills like planning and self-evaluation that help students achieve not only their short term academic goals but also their lifelong dreams. In doing so, Tutor Doctor encourages kids to become more well rounded individuals with high standards for their own achievements.

If you’re looking for something simple and affordable, Tutor Doctor is definitely a company to consider. You can schedule a free consultation online any time! This consultation allows Tutor Ductor to pair your student with a tutor and a learning plan that’s right for them. Not only that, but you can book sessions quickly and easily online as well, making Tutor Doctor one convenience in this rapidly changing world we live in!

Northwest Reading Clinic

It can be hard to find the right tutoring for kids who struggle with basic reading, writing and comprehension. Every child is so different, and it’s not easy to create a program that’s tailored to their individual needs. That’s why the Northwest Reading Clinic provides kids with an exceptionally thorough assessment and consultation to discover where exactly they’re having trouble.

The center tests for things like sound/symbol association, receptive and expressive vocabulary, and ability to follow oral directions. Then they pinpoint what specific areas your kid is struggling with, to create an effective approach that helps mend gaps in their reading/comprehension skills. Northwest is here to help everyone, whether your kid has some minor difficulties concentrating on text or shows signs of severe dyslexia.

Northwest Reading Clinic offers generous amounts of tutoring, tending to work with students on a daily basis. It’s important to note that they’re not just limited to the language arts, they also offer services for students who struggle with fundamental math computations or have difficulty with logical and deductive reasoning. They’re open right now for entirely virtual sessions! If your kid needs help grasping the basics, this is the center for you.

Huntington Tutoring Center

When a student doesn’t believe in themself, their academic achievement isn’t the only thing that suffers. Everything from their social capability to their organizational abilities is affected. That’s why Huntington Tutoring Center focuses on creating confident kids. At Huntington, tutoring is about more than just words and numbers–it’s about encouraging kids to believe in themselves and their futures.

Boasting an impressive 40 years working with students and families, Huntington offers tutoring in math, reading, writing, science and more. They also offer summer programs, homework help, and special programs for kids who are diagnosed with ADHD. Not only that, but they work with schools to make sure your student is truly understanding the curriculum they are being graded on.

If you’re concerned or curious about your child’s progress and want consistent updates, Huntington might be a good option for you. They offer regular conferences with parents throughout the student’s tutoring journey to keep you clued in to your kid’s progress. Sound like something you’re interested in? You can call them anytime, or even have them call you! Tutoring plans vary from 2-10 weeks if tutoring, or a total of 30-90 hours.

Stumptown Test Prep

If you’re looking for something much more geared toward standardized test-taking, check out Stumptown Test Prep. Even if your student doesn’t have an SAT or GRE on the horizon, it’s always good to get an early start. This is especially true if your kid has a little too much time on their hands since they’ve been stuck at home.

Stumptown narrows successful test-taking down to three essential areas of learning: core knowledge, test strategies and motivation/anxiety. By looking at these three components as a unit, Stumptown helps students master their psyche instead of just the test material. They boil down most test-taking issues to gaps in knowledge, poor time management skills, and problems with the student’s mindset. Their approach includes a free consultation for your child in which Stumptown staff can get to the bottom of your child’s test taking issues.

Weekly sessions are the norm for Stumptown but their plans are very flexible, so if you’re interested, get in contact with their small staff to work out a schedule that looks best for your family. They also tutor students from middle school to college and beyond, so they’re ready to step in at any point in your child’s educational journey.

Tutor Portland

Students are living under the pressure of expectations from parents, teachers, counselors…so why would they want a tutor who just tells them what to do? Instead of appointing someone to simply instruct your student, Tutor Portland aims to pair your child with a mentor (we were originally called Mentor Portland!) Tutor Portland aims to establish trust and respect between tutor and student, and provide a positive, kind environment.

The folks at Tutor Portland think there are some serious issues with the way math is taught in schools and adopt a more effective alternative. While most school curriculums emphasize long lectures and monotonous practice, Tutor Portland focuses on teaching math conceptually, often having students verbalize their own mathematical thinking to ensure retention. Tutor Portland knows that every student is different, and that tutors might have to describe things a few different ways before kids understand.

Tutor Portland places the most focus on math and science, but they also offer writing and Spanish tutoring as well. In addition they have a unique program for those applying to medical school, and SAT/ACT prep!

Find a Tutor Near You

While school looks a little different this year, it doesn’t mean that personal, individualized learning isn’t possible. By checking out these local tutoring centers, you can give your kid the chance to beat the stay-at-home blues and get excited about their education again.

March 29, 2020

The Benefits of Active Tutoring

I always struggled trying to learn math and science. It wasn’t natural for me. Some students “got it.” They understood math. But I never did. I “got by.” Friends helped me with assignments, or I copied off my neighbors. I never really took the time to learn and invest in my mathematics abilities. This was because I had a fixed mindset when it came to math. I thought—well I always do poorly at math—I must be bad at math. In a weird, sort-of-rational way, I believed that I was permanently bad at math. I didn’t have any successes to prove otherwise!  

Many other students and families feel this same way. These families are frustrated because they know their student is bright and smart. She is just having a hard time learning math. I believe this is more about the way that math and science are currently being taught in schools than it is about the learner. Math is being taught as a lecture. Teachers have a strict agenda of what they want to teach. They give their lecture, pass out a worksheet, and then expect the students to learn the ideas. This is outdated and simply doesn’t work.

This style of teaching doesn’t hold its ground when compared to the new research being published on math and science education. The research today shows that students learn math and science when they hear themselves verbalize their own mathematical and scientific thinking. This is a huge finding. Up until now, teachers have been relying mainly on lecture-based teaching. They lecture during class, maybe assign some worksheets to keep the students busy, and they send them home with work to complete.

I grew up taking math courses centered around lecture. They were all about one person presenting the ideas. The problem with lecture-based mathematics and STEM courses is that students often think they understand what is going on, but in reality they are missing a few small distinctions on how to complete the problem or activity. These small misunderstandings compound on each other until eventually the student is so far behind that they need massive assistance in order to catch up. But these small misunderstandings don’t have to compound! We can stop them in their tracks! 

If students were allowed the opportunity to simply discuss the concepts every day, then they would learn them much quicker. This is because when we discuss ideas we are better able to see the small holes in our own understanding. This allows learners to ask questions and fill in the gaps. Specifically, in active learning class rooms students spend the majority of the class discussing concepts, ideas, and working together on practice problems. This is the ideal way to learn math and science. But these courses require professors who invest a significant amount of time and energy into planning their courses and their course structure. 

In college, I was fortunate enough to study under such a teacher. She not only knew mathematics, but also had a Ph.D. in mathematics education. She knew how to teach math. The entire course was centered around small groups. This is where everything started. We sat at a small table of 3-4 people and we discussed ideas *before* she taught us what the core concepts were. Most of the time we were able to figure things out in our small group!

Learning like this was difficult. It was challenging to learn this way because we weren’t simply spoon-fed the answer. We had to find it ourselves. We had to discover it. I took algebra 1/2, and algebra 3/4 this way. I also took pre-calculus and even two discovery-based calc I and calc II courses.

In my calculus classes, we spent weeks at our table discussing the concept of “rate-of-change.” We looked at graphs and got a good feel for what rate of change was. We learned that when you look at a graph, you can determine at what rate it is changing at any certain moment. Imagine zooming in on one small square of a graph. How fast is the line changing in that moment? That is what a derivative is. We learned that before ever hearing the word “derivative.” By the time she wrote the equation for a derivative on the board, we had already learned what it was. It was as if we built the meaning with our own hands. We felt as if we owned that word. We knew it inside and out. 

Most people walk away from calculus course not learning anything. I’ve asked many people what they learned. (Try asking people yourself)! People generally say that calculus was useless and that they didn’t learn anything. “I can’t remember anything from that class,” they say. And that is a total shame! Because the concepts of calculus are so incredible. These concepts are fundamental to our lives. I think about rate of change all the time. You can apply it to the stock market, to human psychology, to climate change. What I find really fascinating, is that you can even apply rate of change concepts to your own learning. Think about it: every course moves at a certain rate. And each chapter moves at a different rate. It is also important to be able to think about your own rate of learning in each moment. How fast are you improving? Is your rate of change fast enough to learn all the material? If you aren’t learning at a fast enough rate, then you simply won’t do well in the course. If you realize you aren’t currently learning things at a fast enough rate, then you have to come up with a new plan or strategy. It’s all about having the right approach and mindset when it comes to learning. 

One method we use with our clients—to increase their rate of learning—is to use active tutoring strategies. This means that we engage with out students. No longer are these students simply passively learning new knowledge. We believe that passive education is demoralizing. It reduces students’ confidence. It erodes their belief in themselves and their own ability to learn. Because essentially the message of lecture based STEM education is that: we are the intelligent people with all of the answers, and all you can do is sit down in front of us and diligently take notes and learn. Active learning flips this around and empowers students.  

Why is active learning so powerful?

Active learning is inherently engaging. It gets students involved in the process of their own education. They cease to be passive observers of knowledge and become actively engaged in their own learning. This is empowering. It teaches them that they have control over what and how they learn. Active learning teaches kids to have a GROWTH MINDSET. It helps to shatter the fixed mindset which is inherently limiting. The whole idea of active learning is built around the growth mindset–that if you apply yourself, you can grow, you can improve, you can become better. And you do this by rolling up your sleeves and getting to work…. NOT sitting back and watching. 

Importantly, active learning has been shown to do two main things: 1) it increases students’ overall academic achievement and 2) it improves students’ attitude towards math and science. It does all of this while also reducing misunderstandings about science and improving students’ understanding of big ideas and concepts.

Active learning works so well because it shifts learning from a one-size-fits-all approach to one that is inherently personalized and tailored to each student.

At Tutor Portland, we use an active approach to tutoring. Instead of simply giving answers or showing students how to solve problems, we ask them questions. We engage our students in critical thinking and in-depth discussions about concepts and topics. We ask questions and try to get students to connect the ideas they are currently learning to ones they learned last term or last chapter.

This is often the first time they have *ever* thought critically about the ideas they are learning in school. It’s a dramatic difference once students become engaged with the material. It changes from something abstract to something up-close and personal.

We follow a few “active tutoring” rules very closely:

  • The tutor is simply a guide, a facilitator — the tutor is not a teacher.
  • We give students time to think.
  • We create a comfortable and relaxed learning environment.
  • We ask open-ended questions.
  • Curiosity is a quality which we embody, and which we attempt to bring forth within our students.
  • Teach ethical behavior and thinking.
  • Focus the session on the student. Not on the tutor or the parent or anyone else.

These are guidelines which help us create a positive and active tutoring environment.

Updated March 2020.

March 28, 2020

Math Tutor Portland Oregon

Math is a hard subject. It’s really, really hard. I know. I’ve been there. My name is Eric M Earle and I’m the founder of Tutor Portland. As a middle school and high school student, I fell behind in mathematics. [I mean, I fell way behind]. And that made math and science really challenging for me because math is a cumulative subject. Math is inherently based on what came before it.

Courses and teachers don’t wait. They move on. This teacher had 25 other students to focus on. I simply wasn’t their top priority. I got lost as their attention was consumed by others. And my ability and confidence in mathematics suffered.

I wish I knew back then the things that I know now. At the time, I didn’t realize that math was important! I thought I would never need to know it. But I didn’t understand that math and science are everywhere in society. And additionally, there are a number of “mental-models” or frameworks for viewing the world—big concept ideas—that you can learn by studying math and science. You can apply these “mental models” in any career: finance, law, entrepreneurship, health-care, teaching—whatever the case, you can always use the big lessons from mathematics and apply those to everyday life and situations.

But when I was little I didn’t think about these things. I wish someone told me! My parents spent time looking for a private math tutor, but they didn’t find one because hiring and finding the right tutor can be challenging. As a result, I fell behind and was largely unsuccessful at math and science in high school. I fell behind and never caught back up. And *that’s* why I didn’t like math. I wasn’t good at it and because I didn’t focus on it. My lack of skill in mathematics caused me a lot of stress and anxiety. I remember once in grade school when I sat at the kitchen counter pulling my hair out and crying 😢 because I simply couldn’t understand math. I wanted to work on it but I was too far behind to even begin.

It would have been possible for me to catch up, but I wasn’t resourceful enough. I had all the resources 📚 in the world. My parents could have helped me. I could have asked my teacher. I could have found someone to help me. But I didn’t use those resources. I wasn’t resourceful. I was too young and didn’t have the drive and motivation to succeed. I look back now and realize that the right mentor or tutor could have really helped me. I wish that 27-year-old Eric could have had a conversation with my younger self.

What would you have told him?

I would have told him how important math is. I would have encouraged him to work harder, be persistent, and just sit down with tough ideas and eventually he would start to figure them out. I would have shown him that he could learn anything if he set his mind to it. And I would have sat down with him and helped him.

When you’re trying to learn a hard subject, it is helpful to have someone sitting down next to you. They can be the one reminding you: “together, we can learn anything” and “we are going to figure this stuff out.” I often make comments such as these with my clients. I want to reassure them that we are going to get through it. We can solve this. We can figure this out.

I ask my students to get the syllabus of the course. That way we can look at and analyze their course rationally—see what every assignment is worth—and craft a winning game plan for their course.

A lot of learning is about having the right mental attitude and frame of mind. Actually, so much of life is about that!

Sometimes learning challenging concepts and ideas takes time. You have to commit to them. Sit with them. You have to sit down and start researching and learning. But when you’re a beginner and lack confidence in yourself, this can feel so overwhelming that many students fail to even start. I know this—because I used to be one of those students. And that is such a hard place to be in.

When thinking about tutoring and some of the big ideas & themes in education and education research—I often sit back and think to myself—what type of qualities would a tutor have needed in order to help me? There are a few core ideas that always come to mind:

  1. A great understanding of math & and the ability to explain difficult concepts in simple ways 👍
  2. A pleasing personality and pleasant demeanor 👍
  3. Somewhat that I looked up to 👍
  4. Strong understanding of communication and psychology 👍
  5. The drive to teach and improve others 👍

Wow! What a great list of attributes. Those are the top qualities I’d want in any great tutor. Tutors are able to help in multiple ways. They provide resources and assistance to students. They can also teach students how to be more resourceful and self-directed learners themselves. The best tutors *empower* their students to achieve their own learning goals. The best tutors also have a sense of persistence. They sit down and say—in a reassuring way, “we are going to figure this stuff out, okay?” That alone is incredibly helpful to a student. Normally, when I say this, I see the student visibly relax. I can almost feel my sense of calm and confidence being transferred to the student. The best tutors come from a place of knowing confidence. The best tutors are people who themselves had to struggle with the subject. And because they were able to overcome their own learning struggles time and time again, they are now in a blessed place to help others.

My Story (continued…)

I got decent grades in math and science, but I never understood the subjects. It wasn’t until my early to mid-twenties that I developed the desire to start relearning mathematics. I had a life changing volunteer trip to India. I was volunteering at a neurology clinic up in northern India and I witnessed first-hand the incredible amount of poverty [and absolute lack of access to healthcare]. And it moved me. I saw people suffering and I realized that I had to help. That’s when I became a pre-medical post-grad student. At that point, my mathematics was so terrible that I couldn’t get into a college math class. I took the placement test at Portland State University, but it was so bad I couldn’t even get into math 70 [high school pre-algebra]. So I started working with a tutor. We met at the Multnomah Athletic Club twice a week. And slowly I started to improve. By fall term I was ready and enrolled myself into math 95. I remember once telling a woman this and she laughed at me. She laughed because I was starting back in such a low level of math. This didn’t bother me because I knew deep inside of me that in due time I would be taking advanced mathematics courses. And that is exactly what happened. I earned straight A’s in math 95, 111, and 112. 

I fell in love ❤️ with mathematics because of my trigonometry professor, who taught our class with active learning strategies. [This is something we now employ at Tutor Portland]. These active learning techniques helped me learn math easily and effortlessly. I went on to earn over 100% in both Calculus I and Calculus II. 

Learning math has continued to pay benefits. It has helped me in every area of my life. Learning math teaches you mathematical reasoning and “number sense.” It gives you the ability to look at numbers and data and just make sense of them without extensive analysis. You just start to *get* math and numbers. This has taught me that I can truly learn anything. I took my most challenging subject and mastered it. *That* is empowering. *That* is what we strive to do for students at Tutor Portland.

Eric’s Perspective

👍 All of this has given me perspective. It has given me a unique point of view on 1) how hard it can be to learn math and 2) how rewarding it can be to finally understand it! As a 20-something, I started tutoring students in the liberal arts. I taught public speaking, communication, writing, and Spanish. Soon after I started, parents began asking if I knew any good Portland, OR math tutors. I began interviewing math tutors. Eventually, I found a mechanical engineering student at PSU who was a good fit. He had a great ability to explain difficult concepts in simple ways. Soon I became a math tutor as well.

I realized that my unique view on math and learning was something that had to be available to more Portland families. Together, my math tutors and I have developed and honed our active tutoring approach that works to engage students in their course material and get them thinking deeply about math. We have also developed our own private mathematics curriculum. All of the research today shows that students learn math when they hear themselves verbalize their mathematical thinking. So that’s what we focus on. We ask questions which encourage students to engage with and think critically about the course material. 👍

If I can learn it…

As you have read already, math used to be a huge challenge for me. I avoided it at all costs. And my attitude was that “math doesn’t matter.” This is a defensive and protective attitude. And I was holding it because I was afraid. I was engaging with math from a place of fear and lack.

Now, that has all changed. I relate to math from a place of confidence, abundance, and curiosity. My mathematical reasoning skills are highly developed. I can use and apply the mathematics that I know to real-world situations. And math has provided me with different mental models, or ways to think about and analyze the world. Mental models are things all disciplines have. They are frameworks—or guiding visions—that help us see the world in certain ways. That’s why an interdisciplinary approach to learning is so favored because it allows you to think about complex problems through various lenses.

Tutor Portland’s Mission

That’s why we’ve made it our mission to help all students—from middle or high school to adult learners—understand mathematics and apply their learning to other subjects. We’ve made it our mission to help children and families overcome the stress and anxiety around math.

[And – hey! – this is totally normal. It’s normal to have anxiety about math]. But it’s not acceptable to never overcome your fear. The world needs young people who know mathematics. More and more the jobs and positions are shifting towards students who understand STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). All of the research shows this. America is being an economy built on math, technology, and science. The best employees in the future will need to know these ideas and be able to think critically about math, science, and more.

High school students often wonder what the point of studying math is. “When will I ever use this?” They ask.

I used to ask those exact same questions!!!

We get it. It’s natural to ask that. 👍

It’s our mission to help them learn math! (Leave that stuff up to us!!!!!). Our goal is to help students understand how critically important math is to their future. Do they want to be a doctor, an engineer, a scientist, a businessman? All of these occupations require math! Math will make you better at whatever it is that you decide to do. At Tutor Portland, we have an element of mentoring in all the tutoring that we do. We believe it’s important to inspire students and make them want to learn math, instead of forcing them. We’ve found that by connecting a student’s future goals with what they are learning today, they become ten times more motivated to study and put the effort it. 👍

But it’s important not to push subjects on students. We often hear about teacher and parents who, in a very well-meaning way, tell their students the reasons they need to learn math. This doesn’t work 🚫. Countless studies have shown that people become more motivated to do things when they hear themselves give their reasons for why they want to do something. Therefore, we like to ask questions. We ask students questions like: “So, we know you probably aren’t interested in learning all this mathematics stuff—especially not on Sunday!—but if you were interested, why might you be?” Questions like this do a lot. First, they provide students with autonomy. Autonomy is something that is important for *anyone,* but it is especially, especially important to teenagers. Second, this question gets the student thinking about why they might want to learn math. There are several other follow up questions to ask.

It’s important to note that questions such as these need to be asked in the setting of a relationship with strong rapport. This is where many teachers and tutors go wrong. They try to “motivate” their students without first developing a relationship with them. This erodes trust. Students don’t need to be “motivated.” Students have all the motivation they could ever need already inside of them. We just need to coax it out. But it’s elusive. That’s why tutoring is an art as well as a skill.

Math Tutors in Portland, Oregon

😃 At Tutor Portland, we’ve learned a few things about how to find a great math tutor. The first, most important thing that we look for is integrity and character. In order to gain the trust and respect of a student, it is necessary that a tutor must first show and demonstrate these deeply held qualities. In addition, it’s really important that a prospective tutor knows how to teach math. I once hired a physics tutor who was very brilliant. He had a Ph.D. in physics and was clearly smart. But he couldn’t get through to kids. He couldn’t explain challenging ideas in simple ways. This is the most important thing that is required of a tutor. I spoke with our clients regarding the Ph.D. tutor. These families told me that he was explaining concepts in a way that was over the students’ ability to grasp them. Eventually, we had to let him go. It’s not enough to be good at a subject, tutors have to know how to teach ideas and concepts in multiple ways. In fact, the ability to teach tough concepts in easy effortless ways is the number one ability of a good tutor. Understanding the material should be a given. That is baseline stuff. A lot of people understand mathematics. But very few people know how to teach math in a way that anyone can understand. 

Over time we have developed a comprehensive checklist regarding what we look for in math tutors. Here are *just some* of the key elements that we look for:

  • 👍 Can this tutor explain tough concepts in 5 different ways?
  • 👍 Can this tutor use metaphors [which are relevant to the student’s life]?
  • 👍 Is the tutor able to adopt an active learning approach where he engages the client in in-depth discussions about mathematics?
  • 👍 Does this tutor embody virtues and integrity?
  • 👍 How adept is this tutor at teaching mathematics?

😃 These are some of the key questions that we can ask ourselves before hiring any math tutor.

If you want to learn more about us, please feel free to call us at (503) 347 7102.

Post updated March 2020.

Tutor Portland | Math Tutoring
950 SW 21st Ave #1117
Portland, OR 97205
(503) 347-7120

We offer Math Tutor services in:

  • Lake Oswego
  • Milwaukie
  • Vancouver WA
  • West Linn
  • NW Portland

We offer tutors in the following specific Math subjects:

  • Tutoring algebra
  • Geometry tutors
  • Calculus tutors
  • Statistics tutors
  • Basic mathematics tutoring

 

September 1, 2019

General Chemistry Tutor

The Benefits Of Having A General Chemistry Tutor

Chemistry is one of the hardest subjects. It’s one of the most popular and common subjects that we assist with at Tutor Portland. General chemistry concepts (in both college and high school) are challenging because gen chem forces you to think and understand what is going on. In addition, the subject is highly quantitative.

But the best students are able to weave in both a qualitative and quantitative understanding. This is something that I worked very hard at developing. I was always trying to understand big concepts. I figured that if I understood how the molecules were interacting and what was happening in the beaker, then I would do just fine on the exams. And that played out to be true. In chemistry, even highly quantitative problems can often be solved without crunching any numbers. If you have a really good understanding of the laws and properties of chemistry—and the definitions of the terms—then you can often figure out the answer to multiple-choice problems without using your calculator.

Challenges With General Chemistry In School

Another reason that general chemistry is challenging is that there is often intense time-pressure on the examinations. You might have two or three minutes per problem. And some easily require four or five. That means you have to use your time very wisely. You have to have calculated so many practice problems, that you are acting on muscle memory. When you see a simple problem, you don’t even have to think about it, you just start plugging numbers into your calculator instantly. And you can’t be slowly typing numbers in. You are *flying* through that exam.

One of the best tricks is to be able to answer some of the longer quantitative problems instantly without having to calculate. If you have a really solid understanding of the principles of chemistry, then you should be able to do this. While your friends are struggling to calculate these long problems, you will have moved on and will have more time to spend on other difficult problems. That’s why learning concepts is so valuable. 

Learning about the concepts of chemistry is valuable for other reasons, too. These are powerful concepts that you can apply to everyday life. They help you think about the world. They also help you ponder the world around you. It’s fascinating to learn about the autoionization of water. H2O is constantly changing form right in front of our eyes, switching back and forth between water, hydronium, and hydroxide. That makes you realize the law of imperanance—that nothing in life is truly permanent, everything is constantly changing shape. Things are unstable. When you truly feel and grasp this concept, you will have peace because it teaches you that there is nothing to cling to or hold onto. If things are constantly changing, it doesn’t make rational sense to try and cling to anything. Without clinging there is no attachment. Without attachment, there is no agitation. And without agitation one is able to attain nirvana. That’s one of the many connections between chemistry and Buddhism. Chemistry can also connect to investing. Just as water is constantly changing, so too is the stock market. Everyday “Mr. Market” comes to you and tries to offer you stock at a certain price. And all you have to do is wait. You can wait for the day when that price is low enough, and then you buy.

Other science courses also teach us lessons about life. For example, Biology teaches us about “fundamental” and “realized” niches. Fundamental niches are the total amount of space and resources that a species could possibly occupy. But no species ever realizes it’s entire fundamental niche. Species are only able to attain their “realized” niche. This is the same in your life. It has brought me a great deal of peace to realize that it’s natural that I won’t reach *all* of my goals. I won’t attain my entire fundamental niche. But I can attain my realized niche!

In addition, many species in biology are able to find co-niches. Instead of complete competition, they are able to live side-by-side and even benefit from each other. We can see this play out in life as companies compete with each other in the market. They often don’t entirely destroy other companies. Each company is able to carve out its niche. This is the same with people, too.

Other ideas in chemistry help us think about life. For example, we can consider how the ideas in bonding theory relate to our life. I like to think about how when a bond is created there is actually a decrease in potential energy, and the new molecule is more stable. This is one of the benefits that relationships and other people bring to our life. When we engage with intimate relationships and close friendships and family, our lives actually become more stable than they were before.

One huge idea in chemistry and biology is the old “structure and function” lesson. This concept says that the structure of something correlates very closely with its function. This gets very specific in subjects such as organic chemistry. The smallest changes in structure—the placement of an atom or even the 3D shape of something—can dramatically change its function. This can help us ponder our own structure. What are our strengths? What function in society would we be best suited for? What will my life look like at a certain school, job, or occupation? The structure of the day is so different depending on what you choose.

But most importantly, underneath all of this, chemistry is simply inherently interesting. It is fascinating to learn about these ideas. Still, even with the vast beauty of chemistry, it’s very challenging to convince kids and students to like it. It takes finesse. It requires good communication skills and an open, likable personality. You have to think about things from the kid’s perspective. How can you connect with them? How can you empathize with their life? Try to think, connect, and feel what might be going on in their life. Chemistry is probably the last thing in the world they want to focus on. I always thank my students and tell them: “I know that Chemistry is the last thing you want to be doing on a Sunday, so thanks for putting the time and effort in. It won’t be too long or terrible, and we’ll get through it.”

This builds connection and rapport. With that little sentence, you have separated yourself from teachers and other educators who only care about imparting their agenda. This sentence shows that you are actually taking an interest in *their* life and attempting to see things from their perspective. If you ever want a student to try and see your perspective on something, you first have to try seeing theirs. That is how you build a connection. And connection and rapport are how any great learning process begins.

Hire A Chemistry Tutor

If you would like to learn more about hiring a chemistry tutor, reach out to us here:

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Other General Tutoring & Help We Offer:

  • Spanish
  • Math
  • Pre Medical

General Help

September 1, 2019

Organic Chemistry Tutor Portland Oregon

Organic chemistry is widely accepted—and universally feared—as one of the most difficult and challenging college courses. It’s incredibly complex because of the sheer amount of content you are forced to learn in a short time. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of rules to memorize and commit to memory. One small mistake with these can cost you a significant number of points. But that’s just the beginning.

Organic chemistry is challenging because it requires you to think critically. Successful students need to have an understanding of a vast framework of conceptual ideas. They need to be able to visualize molecules and understand and predict entire reaction sequences in their head. Students are asked to do all of this while remembering thousands of rules, each with multiple distinctions and degrees of nuance.

Because organic chemistry is so hard, many of the teachers aren’t good at teaching it! This compounds the problem. Most organic chemistry professors aren’t good at explaining the difficult concepts they teach. Thus, many students struggle. And some choose to not take the class entirely. I’ve met people who chose not to become doctors, or who avoiding studying science altogether, because of their fear of organic chemistry.

People are right when they say: “you can’t wait until the last minute to try and cram and learn O chem.” It doesn’t work. There is a lot of evidence which shows that we learn better when force ourselves to access information more frequently throughout extended periods. And this is especially true with subjects like organic chemistry: courses which require you to synthesize vast bodies of knowledge and apply them in new ways to solve challenging problems.

When I first started studying organic chemistry, I purchased the textbook and spent all summer reading it. I even sat in on the summer lectures and absorbed everything I could. I didn’t always understand what the teacher was saying because the summer course moves very quickly and I was also a bit behind in my reading. But struggling to think about the ideas in the class was helpful. And I saw from a unique angle what core ideas were used throughout the entire course and thus would be very useful to know and understand well.

I realized that as with other subjects, it’s not about the number of resources you have available to you, it’s about how resourceful you are. Their resources are there. You can attend the O-chem course the year before you take the class. You can buy ten textbooks online and read them all. You can go to your professor’s office hours. You can find videos online. You can hire a tutor who works with you on an unlimited basis. The resources are all there. What matters is how badly *you* want to succeed. College is different from high school. In high school, the drive didn’t matter as much. You could get by

That being said, if you want to take your chemistry to the next level, we certainly offer organic chemistry tutoring here at Tutor Portland. I (Eric) do this tutoring myself. Since finding a good organic chemistry tutor is so rare, our rates for this are separate from our regular tutoring. Our organic tutoring is billed on a per-hour basis.

Organic Chemistry Tutor Portland Oregon

Having been through Organic Chemistry myself, I think that tutoring is a good option if the subject of chemistry is starting to make you feel stressed or if you are starting to fall behind. But I strongly encourage students to seek help as early as they can because organic chemistry is a very challenging subject to learn. It’s a difficult subject to learn if you only have a handful of days before your exam.

One of the biggest recommendations I make for any learning program is that students invest a little bit of time each day learning and working with the material from a subject. There is a lot of research that shows when students force themselves to access information on different occasions spread out over time, they learn better and have improved recall of the concepts. This is especially true with Organic Chemistry. This subject is no joke. There is a reason why everyone thinks it is so difficult. It earned its reputation for a good reason. You have to start studying early for Organic Chemistry. 

When I first started learning O-Chem I spent my summer studying the subject for 1.5 to 2 hours every single day. Before the course even started in the fall, I had already spent nearly 200 hours studying the subject.

My attitude was this: I don’t want to *just* earn an A in this course. I don’t want to *just* be top of my class. I want my professor to say, this is the best organic chemistry student we have seen in fifty years.” And my work ethic backed this up.

That’s the type of work ethic and attitude I will bring to our tutoring sessions. I don’t just want you to pass organic chemistry. I want you to dominate the subject. And that is certainly possible. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication on your part, though having an experienced tutor can save you hundreds of hours. One key I learned is that some certain chapters and concepts repeat themselves. For example, when I was taking O-Chem II in the summer, I made a note when the professor said, “the acid-base chapter is the most important content in the whole O-chem series. It comes up time and time again. So make sure you know that stuff.” I took note of that and when I read the chapter I invested a lot of time into it.

That’s the way O-chem goes. There are some small concepts you think are nominal and not important. But actually, those might be the most important concepts in the entire course. That’s one reason why it is helpful to have a tutor guiding you in your studies.

Get Started

If you would like to get started with tutoring today, click the button below to schedule a free tutoring session:

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Pre Medical Tutoring In Portland Oregon (PDX)

If you want to become a doctor, your future likely rests on your ability to succeed in organic chemistry. Medical schools use this course as a test. They want to ensure that you can handle the rigor of medical school. Organic chemistry requires you to learn, synthesize, and apply vast quantities of knowledge and countless interweaving concepts. Having someone to help you is a *huge* advantage. If you’d like to schedule a session, please contact me personally: eric@mentorportland.com.

Additional Tutoring We Offer:

  • College Math

  • Spanish

  • Pre Medical

September 1, 2019

Tutors Portland, OR

How to find Tutors in Portland, OR

Finding a good tutor in Portland, OR can be challenging. Many families are looking for a great tutor who will come out to their home within a few days. Tutoring can be a time pressing issue. Grades need to be fixed quickly. Exams can’t be delayed or postponed. At Tutor Portland, we commonly send tutors out the very same day that people ask. But even we admit that finding good tutors is really hard. We have to interview scores of applicants before we find a good tutor. And we have long made it our internal motto that we would rather grow at a slower rate—and be limited by the number of great tutors we have—then grow at a faster rate by hiring mediocre tutors.

I think this should be your philosophy, too. It is better to spend time researching and finding a great tutor, than quickly signing up and accepting a mediocre one.

Portland, OR is growing incredibly quickly

Portland, OR is growing. Albeit, the rate of growth has cooled slightly in 2019 relative to the 2015-2016 years of rapid growth. But still, Portland, OR has been growing by well over 30,000 residents every year for decades. This has caused a strain to Portland, OR’s school system—and a rapidly increasing demand for educational services. Since the mid-2010’s Portland, OR has been growing at an average growth rate of over 1.0% per year. As far as population growth is concerned, this is an incredibly high rate of change. In fact, Portland, OR is growing twice as fast as the broader nation is. Still, the population growth doesn’t tell the entire story. Portland, OR has grown it’s GDP by 48% between 2001 and 2014. That is significantly more than double the rate of growth of San Francisco. This means that workers have been hard to find in Portland. This has increased the difficulty of finding high-quality tutors in Portland, OR.

How does tutoring in Portland, OR work?

Tutoring in Portland, OR is becoming more difficult do the increasing population density. Tutors have to travel for longer distances. And there are more students who need help. Portland has a shortage of workers. However, the few good tutors still remain in Portland, OR. It just takes time to track them down. Once you find a good tutor, you normally set an initial session or phone call with them. At Tutor Portland, we always offer the first session for free. The tutor comes out to your home and you get to see if it’s a good fit.

Most other tutoring companies provide an initial “free consultation.” Essentially, this is a free sales pitch. They come out to your home and try to sell you thousands of dollars worth of tutoring. That is how “tutordoctor” does it. We think this is sleazy and a waste of everyone’s time. Therefore, we decided to bypass this sales pitch. (Our founder, Eric Earle, hates hard pressure sales. He vowed to never let his company use those tactics. He thinks that people should be offered something—and, if they like it, they might decide to purchase it).

On top of that, most of the time tutoring is a time-sensitive issue. Families who are looking for tutors in Portland, OR, need to find them quickly—often within a day or two. That’s why we offer a free session. We don’t want there to be any barriers between you and homework help and exam prep. Just call us, and we’ll send a great tutor out to your home—as long as you are located in the greater Portland, OR area.

What subjects can Portland, OR tutors help with?

Tutors can help Portland students with just about every subject. Over the years that we’ve been in business, we’ve found that the vast majority of students need help in Chemistry, Mathematics, and Spanish. So we’ve chosen to hone in and focus on those. In addition, those are the subjects we’re best at. They are also the subjects that Portland, OR students struggle with the most. Every market and every city is different! But in Portland, OR that’s what students struggle the most with.

How much do tutors in Portland, OR cost?

The price of tutors in Portland, OR has a pretty big variation. For test prep services, tutoring can cost upwards of $300 per hour. Our subject tutoring costs around $100 per hour (as of 2019). There are certainly other cheaper options. Some people choose to use a family friend, or someone they found on Facebook or Craigslist. But the market for professional tutoring is expanding rapidly. We think this is because parents see the value in professional tutors. Families now view tutoring as one of the best investments they can make in their children—and we all know that children are the biggest investment that any family has.

When should I sign up for tutors in Portland, OR?

Families choose to sign up for tutoring at different times. Many families wait until their children are far behind before they sign up. This isn’t something that we would recommend! But often that is just the nature of the situation, and we understand. Many families choose to start tutoring before their child’s grade start to drop. This is a great idea because it ensures success and is more preventative. We highly, highly recommend this!

Families might also choose tutoring at different times throughout the year. Some families choose to start tutoring in the fall, and others start in the winter or summer. This is entirely up to you! We would recommend starting in the fall and working throughout the entire school year with a tutor. This provides the best results.

Why Tutor Portland?

Tutor Portland is unique for three reasons:

  1. We focus on active tutoring.
  2. We are a membership company.
  3. We hire hand-selected elite tutors. Most companies are focused on rapid growth and hiring any tutor they can get their hands on. We would rather grow at a slower rate and ensure that our tutoring is top notch. This means that sometimes we get so busy, we simply can’t offer our services to everyone.
August 28, 2019

Tutoring in Portland, Oregon

Finding good tutoring in Portland, Oregon can be a unique and challenging journey. This is because Portland has many different educational sub-systems to navigate. We are firm believers that good tutors know and understand how a given school system works. A tutor has to know how a school system works in order to best help a student.

Portland has seven different public school districts and a vast array of private schools. It also has many colleges, including Portland State University, which is located in downtown Portland, Oregon. With regards to primary and secondary education, Portland has seven school districts which include: Lake Oswego, Parkrose, David Douglas, Beaverton, Tigard-Tualatin, Reynolds, Riverdale, and the Portland Public School District. The latter is by far the largest school district. There are over 45,000 students who attend one of the ~ 100 schools in the Portland Public School District.

Portland also has many private schools, including Central Catholic High School, Catlin Gabel, De La Salle, The International School, and Oregon Episcopal School, among many others. Portland is also home to OHSU School of Medicine and Lewis and Clark Law School.

I grew up in Portland, Oregon. I attended a number of the Portland Public Schools, including Duniway Elementary, Sellwood Middle School, and Cleveland High School. I also spent some time at Central Catholic High School. Growing up in Portland taught me a lot about the Portland Public School system as well as the surrounding school systems. Now I own and run Tutor Portland, which is a local tutoring company serving a countless number of schools in the Portland area. We focus mainly on mathematics, science (mostly chemistry!), and Spanish. We focus on these because we have found through experience that these are generally the subjects that Portland, Oregon students struggle most with. They are also subjects which students can learn! And we’ve seen the biggest benefits when students reach out for help in these subjects. But, we’ve also learned that not all tutoring is created equal. We’ve discovered that often a college student with strong communication and psychology skills makes for a better tutor than a Ph.D. who has trouble explaining his or her ideas. The college student is likely more approachable. And if they are experienced at working with youth and have the ability to create rapport then that’s a strong foundation for a tutoring relationship to flourish. They also have to know and understand the Portland, Oregon school system—especially the school district within Portland that your child attends. Each district has different standards and programs.

Finding tutors who are knowledgable about the various different school districts and curriculums in Portland is not easy. Portland, Oregon is a growing city. There are more students needing tutoring—and more people claiming that they can offer it! How do you sort out a trustworthy tutor from one that doesn’t really know how to teach?

We like tutors who:

  • Grew up in Portland, Oregon and know the local school system
  • Have strong communication skills & understand human psychology
  • Are down-to-earth and approachable*

*This one is really important. Learning is really hard. Math and science are difficult subjects. The last thing you need is a teacher or tutor who is uptight and too serious. That makes these subjects even more challenging and frightening to approach. When the tutor is down-to-earth and relaxed, the student will naturally feel this and adopt this attitude. In addition, math and science are generally not the most important things in a teenager’s life. And that’s fine! Tutors need to be accepting and understanding of this. If they aren’t, if they try and tell students that math is the most important thing in life, the student will be off-put by that. This puts the learning relationship at risk.

In addition, *you* are likely getting busier and busier. Your kids do sports, your daughter has music lessons, and you have to drive them around all day. Traffic is getting worse. It takes hours to get across town. That’s why many parents find it hard to secure good tutoring. Maybe they think about online tutoring, but generally realize it’s not as high quality as in-home or in-person tutoring, and they can’t monitor what is going on during online sessions. That’s why many Portland, Oregon families ask about our in-home tutoring. This is a good option because we drive out to you. This allows your student to learn in the comfort of their own home. In addition, it is just simply convenient. You save time and money not having to drive your kids all around town during rush hour.

Many families are telling us that the current education their child is receiving is inadequate. Often they have a teacher who moves too quickly for their child. Many times these teachers are by-the-book and not very accommodating to students who learn math and science at a different pace or in another way. And less-than-stellar teachers are not the only thing putting downward pressure on Portland students. The Portland Public School system is also facing budget cuts and other funding pressures. To compound this problem, Portland has a housing crisis for many families. This means that many children go to sleep each night without a stable home to sleep in. Because of this, nearly 4% of Portland Public school students are deemed homeless. This puts pressure on all of the students in school.

One neat thing about the Portland Public school district is that they offer language immersion programs. The Spanish immersion is the most popular program and it is offered at ten elementary schools. The program is also offered at the middle and high schools that these elementary schools feed into. At Tutor Portland, we work closely with these programs and provide support for students who are struggling, and students who simply wish to excel.

Many Portland schools also offer International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. The IB program is run by a non-profit organization. It allows students to take more challenging courses and receive advanced credit for them. There are four different IB programs: Primary, Middle, Diploma, and Career-Related. These programs are offered at various schools throughout the Portland area. Some of the schools are: Lincoln High School, International School of Beaverton, Southridge, Tualatin, and Cleveland High School.

The Diploma IB Program is for high school students aged 16-19. Schools all across the world offer this program. There are six core subject areas within the program: Arts, Mathematics, Language, Science, Literature, and Societies. Each subject area has specific courses that fall within it. Many schools will let students take just a few courses instead of testing for the entire IB Diploma program. For example, it’s possible to just enroll in IB English, IB Science, and IB Mathematics. And we can help you with those subjects! We’ve done quite a bit of work helping students in these challenging IB courses and preparing for difficult IB and AP examinations.

We think that the IB Program is great because they focus on developing students who are:

  • Thinkers
  • Communicators
  • Principled
  • Reflective
  • Caring

Those are great qualities for students to have.

Portland Public Schools also have other programs, which many families voice concerns over and feel frustrated with. We listen to many complaints about the Common Core State Standards Initiative. The Oregon School Board of Education put these standards in place in 2010. The standards were placed in English and mathematics. The majority of issues families have are with the mathematics standards. Families are frustrated because the Common Core Standards and their corresponding teaching methods are different than they grew up with.

The standards outline different categories for students. For example, high school students are expected to learn and gain mastery over six different areas:

  1. Numbers & Quantities
  2. Algebra
  3. Functions
  4. Modeling
  5. Geometry
  6. Statistics & Probability

As a way to gauge success within the given categories, annual standardized tests are conducted for each child. This strong emphasis and focus on persistent testing of students has led to backlash and outrage across the nation and throughout schools in Portland, Oregon. Teachers have taken to the streets to protest the Common Core Standards and corresponding standardized testing.

However, there are some organizations that support Common Core. Notably, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supports it. They support it because they believe that Common Core gives our schools a set of standards which help make our students competitive in the global economy.

Regardless of the perceived benefits or disadvantages of common core, one thing is clear: it can be tricky for families to navigate. That’s why we’ve found that having a tutor or assistant who can help you greatly improves student performance and reduces stress.

However, not all students fit within the neat categories or school districts. There are many students who choose to home school, at least for a few years. We have worked with a number of families who were deciding to homeschool their children and wanted to provide some structure to their day by adding an hour or two of tutoring each weekday. We have helped create custom learning programs for students in subjects ranging from mathematics, English, to Spanish. These students often see great results in their learning. They have the advantage of being more self-directed in their learning and more focused on mastery of subjects and ideas, rather than on simply earning good grades.

The legal requirements and standards for homeschooling in Portland, Oregon are pretty simple. The government simply asks that you register your child with your local school district service. This can be done online! Parents are given a lot of leeway with how they want to educate their children. Parents can choose what subjects they want their kids to learn and what resources they will use. Parents can choose textbooks, online resources, private tutoring, and online charter schools. There are many free resources to use! KhanAcademy is a great free tool.

There are a lot of different ways parents like to use tutoring. We have covered many different ways in this post. Sometimes families choose unlimited [or full time] tutoring for their children instead of school. This is common for parents who are homeschooling their children. Other times, parents use tutoring as an addition and boost to their current education.

Portland, Oregon can be a tricky place when it comes to navigating the local school systems and finding a good tutor. This is our specialty. This is what we do. Please let us serve you.

August 24, 2019

In-Home Math Tutoring

What is in-home math tutoring?

In-home math tutoring is one of the most common and popular types of tutoring for several reasons. In-home tutoring is incredibly popular because families love the convenience and lack of stress that comes with having a tutor come out directly to your home at a time of your choosing. Families have busy schedules these days! We get it. Everyone is packed full and overloaded. You simply don’t have time to drive all over town. That’s why in-home math tutors come to you! Another reason this type of tutoring is so popular is that math is one of the most difficult subjects for students to learn. Time and time again we see students struggling in courses such as geometry and algebra and trigonometry.

How does in-home math tutoring work?

In-home math tutoring is really pretty simple. The first step is scheduling your free session. That’s right, every first time Tutor Portland member gets access to a free tutoring session. You will have an initial phone call with our founder, Eric. In this quick free introductory call, we will cover all the details prior to the session. We will ask about your child and your learning goals. We will ask some initial discovery questions to assess where exactly your student is at, and what skills and tools will benefit them the most. Then we will pick a tutor who we believe to be the best match. And we will set a time for your initial free session. 99% of the time this first session is a good fit. And nearly everyone who receives the session signs up to become a paying member.

What is an in-home math tutoring membership?

An in-home math tutoring membership is something that we offer at Tutor Portland. Our memberships are designed to be incredibly customer-focused. Our mission is to be the most customer-focused company in the world. We believe in the customer. Our founder was tired of brands not treating customers right. He wanted his brand, Tutor Portland, to stand for something. And we chose to stand for the customer. That’s why our tutoring membership is flexible. You can cancel anytime. The sessions are yours to keep, they never expire. And the first session is always free. We also have a better grades guarantee. This means that for our top two membership tiers we guarantee that your child’s grades will improve.

We set up our membership this way because we realized that customers are the most important thing in the world. Your satisfaction means everything to us. The only reason that we are here in business is to serve you. Please consider letting us do just that.

Why learn mathematics?

There are countless reasons why it’s important to learn mathematics. Many students complain about learning math. They say: “when will I ever need to learn this?” I get it! I used to be one of those students. But there are so many jobs that require math. Here are just a few positions which are generally filled by mathematicians or which math majors are normally hired for:

  • Accountant
  • Biostatistician
  • Computer Programmer
  • Computer Systems Analyst
  • Doctor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Financial Manager
  • Information Systems Analyst
  • Insurance Underwriter
  • Inventory Control Specialist
  • Investment Manager
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Professor
  • Risk Manager
  • Securities Analyst
  • Statistician

These are some of the most common jobs you can get from learning math.

Two of the most common responses for why it’s important to learn math is because A) it can prepare you for STEM-related jobs and positions and B) because math is inherently beautiful. Some mathematicians have called these the classical reasons. These classical reasons are indeed very strong reasons to learn mathematics. But there are also other reasons why someone might want to learn mathematics. Learning mathematics can add to the diversity of your knowledge. Mathematics—especially ideas such as ratios, rate of change, and simple algebra concepts—can be used to think about our world in unique and compelling ways. Mathematics can make you a better person by giving you a mental framework to think about the philosophical problems of fairness and equity. In addition, learning mathematics will make you more rational and reasonable. It will help you see that most of life is statistics, it comes down to odds and chances.

What are Tutor Portland’s beliefs about math education?

Tutor Portland believes that mathematics tutors and teachers should take an active approach. Most students don’t do well at math because they aren’t interested and they are not engaged in the course. This is usually because the course is lecture-based and they fall behind in the course. However, small & active group work allows students to engage with others. Working with others allows students to attempt to put their mathematical thinking into coherent sentences. Normally, when doing this, students will begin to see the holes and gaps in their own learning and reasoning. They can then ask questions and try to dive deeper.

Therefore, at Tutor Portland, we take an active learning approach. We don’t believe in bland memorization of facts or rules. We want students to understand the rules. We want them to feel what a derivative is. To experience it. To know what it is before they are taught the formula. This type of learning is sticky. But it also takes more time to plan and more skill to execute. That is why most teachers stick to lectures and most tutors simply do low-level homework help. Creating a good active learning environment is really hard.

We also follow what is known as the peer-assisted learning approach. This approach is built upon research showing that students make the largest learning gains when they actively teach another individual how to complete or solve a problem. We, therefore, implement that into our tutoring. Once we have sufficiently taught a skill to one of our students through active learning strategies. We then employ peer-assisted strategies and have our students teach *us* the material. This does a number of things. First, it challenges the student because they have to become the teacher for a few minutes. Second, it shows us how much the student truly understands and where they might be falling short. And lastly, this strategy leads to the biggest learning gains.

What is active learning?

Most teachers and tutors believe that their learning environment is inherently an “active” one. But that is far from always being true. Active learning environments do not generally arise spontaneously or from chance. They need to be built, crafted, composed. Essentially, courses or tutoring sessions in which students only listen are the worst teaching methods possible. These lead to the lowest learning gains. Research shows that students need to think, discuss, write, and engage. They need to perform higher-level thinking: synthesis and analysis. Interestingly, students actually prefer to be more engaged—and they learn more when they are. That’s why we take an active learning approach with our in-home math tutoring.