News & Updates
April 23, 2021
When you’re trying to memorize hundreds of conjugations and spend hours working to get the pronunciation just right, you may feel like mastering Spanish is impossible. Writing and reading in a foreign language takes a ton of practice, and speaking the language aloud fluently is even harder. It requires students to conjugate and translate faster. In a big classroom full of people, it’s easy for students to get lost in a sea of faces or intimidated by their peers. They may not get the individual attention they need to truly grasp the language.
But the value of understanding Spanish should not be underestimated. The benefits of mastering this commonly spoken language extend far beyond the academic realm. Learning Spanish allows us to connect with Spanish speaking friends and neighbors. It empowers us to travel to different parts of the world where Spanish is the primary language. Gaining the skill of speaking a second language is also great for the brain, increasing memory and ability to focus.
So how can we help kids truly master Spanish when the classroom just isn’t cutting it? Tutoring is the saving grace you’re looking for. With a tutor, kids can have a much more individualized experience. Students can have fluid conversations with tutors in Spanish to get the back and forth speaking practice they need. If they feel self conscious in front of the class, they can get comfortable talking in Spanish with a trusted tutor. Tutoring can also switch up boring routines for students, to get them out of the mundane workbook mentality.
If students are quite grasping the material, here’s the top three ways tutoring will help them Spanish like a pro.
Cementing Speaking Skills
Tutors allow students to drive home their speaking skills by having fluid back and forth conversations in Spanish. Learning a language is not like picking up math, science, or even English. It requires more than just rote practice. Students need to have frequent conversations in Spanish to really be able to translate with speed.
But learning in a classroom with thirty other people makes it hard for students to get those conversational skills. There’s not a lot of chances to have one-on-one conversations with their teachers, as there are so many students and only so much time.
Tutoring brings a personal component that’s missing in the classroom. Students can have discussions in Spanish with a tutor who is fluent, even doing whole sessions in Spanish once kids get to a certain level of ability. A tutor can point out exactly where kids are missing the mark in these conversations and help them really focus on changing key mistakes. Plus, tutors can educate kids about informal nuances in the language that a textbook might not mention.
I know our Spanish tutors are effective because I have every Tutor Portland tutor teach me before I hire them. With this process I’m able to see which Spanish tutors are able to break free from basic repetition exercises and have more sophisticated, productive conversation. Not only that, but Tutor Portland emphasizes principles like patience and conceptual learning, which promise to make the most out of Spanish tutoring sessions.
Self Conscious Students
Speaking Spanish regularly with a tutor can help kids ditch performance anxiety when it’s time to translate in front of the class. Being fourteen years old and having to speak to a class full of your peers is hard enough. Now try doing it in a language you barely know! One of the biggest barriers to students becoming fluent Spanish speakers is their anxiety about speaking in front of a class.
We want to ease that anxiety. One of our most important missions at Tutor Portland is to create a deeper bond between student and tutor. Our tutors go beyond just a transactional relationship with their clients, but instead act like mentors. This emotional bond helps establish trust. This trust will be a key component for students attempting to learn Spanish, as it will help them overcome anxiety about speaking.
With a tutor, students can practice with somebody they trust. They can work out the kinks with the same person every week, without being embarrassed. With some positive reinforcement from a tutor, they’ll gain confidence. They’ll be able to head back into the class ready to run through conjugations like a pro in front of everyone.
Escaping The Endless Flashcards
Spanish tutoring creates a more engaging curriculum than boring flashcards or workbooks. While these tools help students memorize words and phrases, they don’t really allow teens to master Spanish. They’re mostly used for teaching the subject matter to large groups of students when the teacher can’t get to each person individually. Unfortunately, they don’t give students the mindset to genuinely understand the language.
Luckily, one-on-one tutoring helps with this too. Tutors can give students new and interesting ways to encounter the language, like games or unique activities. They can assign students fun writing prompts based on the student’s own interests to get kids excited about learning. Giving frequent positive reinforcement helps kids feel personally fulfilled as their Spanish language skills grow.
At Tutor Portland, adopt a growth mindset and want to help students always be improving and changing. Beyond just boring and unhelpful activities, we create a personal connection with students and use that bond to give them truly effective teaching, so they can strive towards improvement.
The Perfect Tutor is One Click Away
If you want kids to master Spanish, tutoring might be the way to go! A tutor can give your kid the practice they need to speak fluently and confidently, and allow them to break out of a boring class curriculum. With Tutor Portland, you can be certain that your child is getting the personal, effective tutoring that they deserve. Sign up for your first session, free of charge.
March 24, 2021
If your kids are taking math online right now, I can see why you might be worried. It’s hard enough to hope for As in math classes when kids are attending school in person, but 2020 made everything more complicated.
Now that class is online, it’s even easier for kids to find themselves falling behind. Students are more distracted and less engaged. Class discussions are virtually nonexistent. Getting individual attention from a teacher seems harder than ever. How in the world are students supposed to master complicated math concepts in this environment?
While the online format isn’t ideal, tutoring can help! For kids who are missing that one-on-one interaction, a math tutor can bring them the connection they crave, now from the comfort of their home. Classes are now almost always recorded, giving tutors a way to glimpse course material and work through it with students. Virtual pod-based tutoring can help kids supplement the social aspect they might be yearning for. So if you worry about your kid grasping the math curriculum, don’t give up just yet. Here’s how tutors can make a difference…
Many parents worry that Zoom is less engaging than in person math class. There’s definitely some truth to that–it’s hard for kids to get invested in the material when they’re just another black square in a sea full of turned-off cameras. It’s tempting for kids to start playing Minecraft or scroll through Instagram during a lecture as there’s no teacher in the room. Discussions aren’t as fluid or active and it’s hard for kids to make themselves known. In this virtual environment, students are not as involved in the subject at hand.
However, getting a great tutor can help solve this problem. No longer will your kid be an anonymous member of a huge Zoom class. Tutoring gives kids a personal, individualized approach to learning, even through the internet.
At Tutor Portland, we give one-on-one tutoring that’s totally focused on engaging the student. Our tutors build a strong rapport with students, ensuring that kids feel safe to express their frustrations and explain their own way of thinking about problems. Tutors check back with students each week and give them the positive encouragement they need to strive for growth. Even though kids have to learn through a screen, with this approach, we can keep kids excited and interested in the material.
That being said, even if students remain involved, they might not be able to be able to keep up. Math is cumulative, meaning if students miss one concept, they can easily get behind. Working through recorded lectures with a tutor might be able to change that…
Keeping Students From Falling Behind
Fast-paced math lectures are so common, it’s a wonder how kids can keep up at all. This has been a problem long before online learning. It’s a byproduct of our tendency to teach math with little to no discussion among students, let alone individual questions and feedback. Now that many lectures are virtual, students might have even less opportunity to slow down the class and inquire about a tricky concept.
Luckily, in this new online educational environment, lectures are almost always recorded. These recorded lectures are made available to students at any time. This means students can go back and rewatch whenever they need to in case they get stuck on homework. They can pause and rewind or go to a specific section when they may have overlooked a detail. Plus, if they want to review for a midterm or a final, they have every lecture laid out for them online. Instead of having one chance to get the teacher’s lecture, they can access it any time.
This is a great tool that tutors and kids can use together. Previously, if a kid struggled to comprehend an idea, tutors would have to guess how the teacher taught it to them. Now, tutors can see exactly how the concept was explained to the student, so the tutor can more deeply understand their student’s learning process. Students and tutors can go through recorded videos and take a new look at any material the student doesn’t quite understand.
Beyond having relationships with teachers and tutors, students also need to relate to each other and work together. But, how can tutoring help kids get that experience without in-person classes?
Incorporating the Social Aspect
Although socializing with others may seem extraneous to learning equations, having discussions with others about material really helps struggling math students. Studies show that students understand concepts better when they’re able to verbalize their thinking and have back-and-forth exchanges with other individuals.
However, online school makes it impossible for kids to talk about material as they walk the halls, and makes forming study groups a lot more challenging. This is especially true if your student is new to the class or doesn’t have a group of classmates to collaborate with.
Tutoring can help by not only connecting students with a great tutor, but a network of their peers as well. My brother and I had this social component in mind when we created Zoom Tutor, a website made specifically to help kids through the online educational landscape. On Zoom Tutor, not only is one-on-one tutoring offered, but pod-based tutoring with a group of students as well.
This means students are organized into small groups that meet each week to go over material. Although they may not be able to gather in person (yet), these regular sessions give kids the ability to meet and work with an entirely new group of peers. Instead of working through problem after problem alone, they can have a community to share their frustrations and victories. This can fundamentally transform students’ attitudes towards math. Instead of stale repetition, these peer groups help make math fun and social.
Get Your Kid Tutoring Today!
Even though learning math online may seem like an impossible challenge, tutoring can help students make the most of it. When Zoom leaves kids uninvested, good tutoring can help them engage with material again. Working through recorded lectures with tutors can guide kids towards success if they find themselves falling behind. Incorporating group work into the online tutoring format can help students have meaningful discussions that allow them to get a grasp on complicated math subjects..
So if you want to help your kid make the most of learning math online, you can sign up for your first free Tutor Portland session here, free of charge. You can also check out Zoom Tutor here! If we can give students access to a meaningful learning experience despite the tribulations of the online format, we can help kids come out of this challenging time on top, ready to achieve their goals.
February 21, 2021
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
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
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.
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.
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.
December 15, 2020
So your child has completed their college apps and they’ve started to narrow down their higher education choices. Whether they want to attend a junior college, attend school part-time, or are taking the plunge into a four-year university, their big decision will help shape their future. You’ll want to be sure that they’re as prepared as they can be.
Before they even step foot in a classroom, their skills will need to be tested. Math placement tests are a required examination prior to enrolling in specific classes. If they’re worried about what lies ahead for them when it comes to math placement tests and scheduling math classes, there’s no need to worry.
We have the ultimate guide right here for parents and students like you to better understand what math placement tests are all about.
What is a Math Placement Test?
A math placement test is designed to measure a student’s math skills and gauge the most appropriate math classes they should take for the upcoming semester. Before starting college or university, students must complete a math placement test at home. This happens after a student has been admitted to a school and is a normal part of the enrollment process.
There is no passing or failing a math placement test. The point of these exams is to see how competent the student is in the subject. They are more of an assessment of personal skills rather than an analysis of mastery. A math placement test is not a measure of intelligence, but a measurement of personal experience and how well a student demonstrates that experience.
After the test, the school will tailor a choice of math class to the student’s best strengths. If a student is a top scorer, they’ll be rightly placed in advanced classes that will properly challenge them. If they score lower on the math placement test, then they will be placed in less intense math courses.
What to Expect on a Math Placement Test
Although all schools require students to take a math placement test, there is no universal standard they adhere to. Each university or college will create their own tests that best measure math skills according to their own set of standards.
However, there will be some similarities across the board. Questions will be pulled from a wide variety of math topics such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and some precalculus and calculus, but the questions will not dive deeply into each subject. The range of questions will be wide, not deep.
The wide-range of questions about basic concepts is followed by longer word problems. These word problems focus on the application of concepts. Students will apply the previously mentioned concepts to help solve longer story problems. Further, the test will ask students to provide written analysis to test if they can fully understand and demonstrate mathematical concepts.
These tests usually do not have a time limit and are mostly multiple choice. The point of the exam is to measure skill, not speed. They’re usually administered online too, so there is no need to travel to a testing location. The tests are often completed from the comfort of a student’s own home.
What’s The Deal with High Placement Scores?
Preparing for math placement tests can save students and parents time and money down the road. If your university requires payment for classes by the unit, students can save money by testing out of classes that would otherwise be required for their degree.
By scoring well, students can bypass entry-level courses and qualify for more challenging (and more interesting!) math classes. By scoring poorly, the school may place students in lower intensity remedial courses and take time away from more enriching classes.
If a student plans to enter a field that is less math-intensive, they can bypass math classes altogether if they score high enough. By testing out of basic math classes, they free their schedule to take other classes that are more relevant to their field of study. This will save time and money as students will skip a few steps on their way to complete their degree.
How to Prepare for a Math Placement Test
Before taking a placement test, I encourage students to brush up on basic mathematical concepts. A math placement test will have questions about basic arithmetic such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, proportions, averages, decimals, and integers. It sounds like a lot, but it’s nothing students haven’t mastered before!
Here are our tips to maximize your studying habits!
However, it’s important not to put too much weight on the outcome of the test. There is a downside of over-preparing. If students prepare for the test in anticipation to score “well” or “ace” the exam, then they could be setting themselves up for a difficult situation. By studying for hours to ace the exam, students may earn placement in an advanced level math course they are not ready for. They might become overwhelmed by the higher level material because of their inflated placement score.
Remember, there is no passing or failing these placement tests, so over-preparing won’t always pay off. Ending up in a less intense math course might be the perfect situation for a student who isn’t as mathematically gifted as their peers.
Conversely, if a student enters the math placement test completely unprepared, then they could be placed in a math course that is far below their skill set. These students might get stuck paying for a class that is repetitive, boring, and ultimately a waste of their time because they did not demonstrate higher level math skills on the placement test.
Final Thoughts on Math Placement Tests
If a higher education institution accepts you or your child into their program and requires you to take math placement tests, look into hiring a tutor. When you hire a tutor to work one-on-one, you can focus on reviewing the areas that are the best use of your time. Meeting with a tutor to hone math skills could make a positive difference for your future in higher education.
Experts from Tutor Portland or Zoom Tutor can assist in tailoring a plan for you or your child. Having a tutor that understands how the math placement test works will make a huge difference in your educational experience. By fortifying math experience, you will be ready to take a math placement test and best serve your educational career.
April 2, 2020
The Benefits of Tutoring
The benefits of tutoring vary from student to student, but there is no doubt that any student, of any skill level, can benefit from tutoring. Tutoring can assist students that are struggling to keep up with subject matter or challenge those who need an extra push. Tutors can challenge students without evoking feelings of judgment, or the emotional baggage students often feel when working with parents or teachers on school work. We see this a lot. Students time and time again prefer to work with a tutor rather than with their parents or teacher. And this makes sense! A relationship with a tutor is more down-to-earth and relaxed. Students feel comfortable around tutors. They know that they can ask questions without being judged.
Below we discuss how tutoring benefits students and why you should consider enrolling your child, or self, in a tutoring program.
Students that are enrolled in private tutoring benefit from an individualized learning experience. They can learn difficult subjects like math and science better when they verbalize their own mathematical/scientific thinking in a tutoring session. This is critical. Many students are never given the chance in large classrooms to hear themselves speak and think about mathematics. During our tutoring sessions we employ an “active learning” strategy. There is a lot of evidence showing that active learning strategies help students learn and improve their retention of subject matter. The whole idea of active learning is that students are engaged in the process. They are asked to think about what they are doing. This is a form of meta-cognition. Meta-cognition is critical to learning. It provides the bridge between the worksheet or the problems that the students are doing—and the actual learning itself. Learning does not just happen. It doesn’t simply occur when students do homework. Learning functions when the learning environment has been intentionally designed based on scientific evidence.
There is a wide body of evidence that shows that when students solve difficult problems with the support of a tutor, instructor, or peers, they are better able to retain information and achieve their desired learning goals.
Tutors help students build academic skills and assist them in areas they struggle in whilst preparing them with improved work and study skills. The extra layer of preparedness and confidence students gain through tutoring will increase their overall academic achievement. This confidence radiates out to every aspect of a student’s life. It affects how they show up to the classroom. It improves their ability to make connections between complex ideas. It gives them a solid foundation and confidence upon which other successes are built.
The accountability a tutor provides encourages students to stay on track with their coursework and follow through with tasks. When a student is prepared for their subject matter, and don’t feel overwhelmed, they are more inclined to finish homework and other school-related tasks. This helps in so many ways. Firstly, it is always better to be prepared! This alone really helps students. They start turning in assignments on time. They understand when HW is due and what is expected of them.
Customized tutoring programs help ensure your child is learning effectively in a way that works for them. This is good for students who need an extra challenge, as well as students that need a slower pace and more individualized teaching. Simply put: not every student learns at the same pace. This is why lecture-based-learning often fails students and leaves many behind. The course must continue. And the teacher has to “sacrifice” some students for the benefit of others.
Through tutoring, students can learn work and study habits they might miss out on through standardized public schooling alone. The social, behavioral, and independence skills students learn through tutoring will benefit them inside and outside of school. These skills really apply to every area of life. Tutoring helps students learn how to set goals. It teaches them the importance of sitting down with a subject and just sticking with it. Tutoring also helps students learn that it is okay to ask for help and seek assistance from others.
Through tutoring, students learn how to recognize and control their learning pace and take initiative when doing their coursework. When a student feels like they are able to learn better thanks to the tools tutoring prepares them with, they are less likely to feel “left-behind” or too nervous to seek help when needed. Tutoring puts the learner in the driver’s seat. They are instantly in-charge of their own learning. Rather than being passive observers—like they are during class—students are transported to a block of time where they have to direct their own learning. With help, of course! Often it is the student who directs the tutor. The student says, “this is where I need help. This is what I’m struggling with.” Those are invaluable skills! In this way, tutoring helps students become better at recognizing their own weaknesses and strengths. This is helpful when attempting to learn or improve at any skill.
Tutoring can help school become fun for students. Encouragement and praise surrounding school can help with feelings of frustration toward school. Additionally, the confidence students gain via tutoring makes them feel more prepared going into school and other academic settings.
When a student feels more confident in their ability to succeed in school, and other academic settings, their overall confidence will increase. The tools learned in personalized tutoring boosts student’s self-esteem and confidence as they become more successful students.
Tutoring helps identify and manage any learning difficulties students may face resulting in an improved attitude towards school and learning. The one-on-one teaching that tutoring provides can help identify any issues that may get looked over in a large classroom setting.
The accountability that tutoring provides can go a long way in student’s overall dedication, and persistence in completing schoolwork and other school-related tasks. Through tutoring, students will eventually realize their personal growth and begin to take ownership of their own studies and other responsibilities.
Want more resources? Check out our free resource on how to create an effective home learning program for your child!
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Article Updated April 2020
March 29, 2020
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 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:
- A great understanding of math & and the ability to explain difficult concepts in simple ways 👍
- A pleasing personality and pleasant demeanor 👍
- Somewhat that I looked up to 👍
- Strong understanding of communication and psychology 👍
- 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.
👍 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
We offer Math Tutor services in:
- Lake Oswego
- 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
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.
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