Math is a highly technical subject. Some even go as far as to say it is a complete language with its own symbols, rules and methods. Understanding it can therefore be difficult, but teaching it even more so. As such, the success of a math tutor lies in their ability to simplify the topic for their students.
Here are some key characteristics a successful math tutor is sure to have:
1. Effective teaching
Effective teaching means conveying the concepts in a way that students can digest easily. Tutors need to ‘come down’ to the student’s level, simplifying the main concepts and explaining them clearly. A key part of this lies in knowing the subject well. As a math tutor, you must be able to:
• check the child’s understanding,
• reinforce their knowledge, and
• fill in any gaps in their understanding
Knowing the subject inside out will help you do this.
2. Full preparation
Simply knowing your subject isn’t always enough. To be an effective math tutor, you also need to be willing to put proper time and effort into planning your lessons. Set clear goals for the students to live up to. Consider your students; think about the type of examples they are likely to respond most to. Take note of a lesson structure that will foster the learning process. This will enable you to excel at teaching your students.
3. Good communication
To be a good math tutor, you need to ensure effective communicate with your student. Math is a tough subject; if the student is unclear about even a single concept, it will affect their overall understanding of the topic. So good communication is key!
If you have an accent, make double sure your student can understand you. You should also try to communicate in a language they are fluent in. Understanding math is hard enough; it’s even harder if the child has to struggle to understand what you are saying!
A way to ensure that your student is absorbing your lectures is to enlist their response. Ask them questions. Set them problems to solve. A successful math tutor will make their student ‘do the math’. If they make a mistake, work through the problem with them. if they understand the concept, they will realize where they slipped up.
4. Personal character
Tutors who are patient, friendly and amicable are more likely to get results than those who aren’t. Be straightforward and confident, and make the subject interesting by adding appropriate anecdotes and jokes to be more approachable.
The students need to respect you, not fear you. They should understand that bad behavior isn’t acceptable, but they also shouldn’t quake with fear of your wrath upon making a slight mistake. Respect can go a long way; if they respect you, the students will work hard and show interest in the lessons.
5. Innovative teaching techniques
Interact with your student, identify their learning capacity and intellectual level, and adjust your lessons accordingly. Here are some innovative teaching techniques that have been effective in tutoring mathematics students:
-Ask them how?
If a child gives you a correct answer, ask them to walk you through their technique. This will help them to reabsorb their problem-solving method, while allowing you to assess their academic progress.
-Make it visual
Math is a visual subject. Graphs, shapes, patterns, directions—all of these can be easily drawn on paper or screen. Keep a pen on hand and draw the graphs and angles as you explain them. This will help your student ‘see’ what they are solving and prevent it from being too abstract. It will give them a better grasp of the concept being taught.
-Turn it into a game
What child doesn’t love games? instead of delivering a monotonous lecture, turn the lesson into a fun activity that students can take part in. If they are studying angles, close the book and ask them to point out the angles around them. When studying 3-D figures, give them real-life examples from around the room. Download a visual learning software to add a spark of interest to your tutoring sessions.
A successful math tutor makes sure the student is equally involved in the learning process, pushing them to work out the answer instead of supplying readymade solutions. A good teacher must also be willing to adapt their technique to their student to ensure they achieve maximum benefit from the lessons.