Should I consider tutoring?

  • Thread starter Lyrassia
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  • #1
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Hello,

I was offered a job for tutoring and I'm just not sure if I should take the position, but I did pick up an application yesterday. I've really been considering it, not because of the résumé, or the money, but because of the overall experience. I will get paid, however, to do so. $10/hr.

I will mainly be tutoring in math; algebra, and some trigonometry. I would tutor in calculus, but I'll be taking calculus this semester.

My problem is, I'm just a little nervous because:
1. This will be the first job I've ever had.
2. My GPA is between a 3.1-3.5 range and I've gotten mostly B's, in my math classes in college so far.

Few things to take in mind:
~ I'm a physics major.
~ Second year college student.
~ This job position is private tutoring, so one on one attention with the tutee.

Most people have been telling me to go for it, you never know until you try. I know I may not have A's in my math classes, but I know algebra/trig pretty well. I'm sure the university would hire someone whose been trying to succeed. (At least I think..)

One last thing, any advice/tips would be much appreciated. :)
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
CompuChip
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I don't think your GPA is very relevant here. What is most important, is that you are able to explain something clearly. Also you need to be able to adapt to your student, for example to decide whether giving them additional information would help or just confuse them, or how to lead them to an answer down an alternative path they have started on rather than the path you / the solution manual had in mind.

Being "above" the material yourself will certainly help. If you're a second year college student, this is not likely to be a problem, but you will find that experience in tutoring will increase this even further. Having studied mathematics and seeing the bigger picture has helped me greatly in approaching a topic in different ways, depending on the student. For example, I can now just as easily explain trigonometry using the unit circle as the graph of the sine as the starting point, and throw in some physics with a bead on a piece of string for the intuition - but I still remember that in high school these things were completely disconnected in my mind and seemed like three different subjects that one had to learn separately.

The fact that it is private tutoring will make it easier, as you do not need to involve yourself with differences in student's levels and all sorts of group dynamics that teachers have to take into account.

Since you are saying that the experience is the main motivation, I would agree with "most people" and say: go for it!
 
  • #3
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I don't think your GPA is very relevant here. What is most important, is that you are able to explain something clearly. Also you need to be able to adapt to your student, for example to decide whether giving them additional information would help or just confuse them, or how to lead them to an answer down an alternative path they have started on rather than the path you / the solution manual had in mind.

Being "above" the material yourself will certainly help. If you're a second year college student, this is not likely to be a problem, but you will find that experience in tutoring will increase this even further. Having studied mathematics and seeing the bigger picture has helped me greatly in approaching a topic in different ways, depending on the student. For example, I can now just as easily explain trigonometry using the unit circle as the graph of the sine as the starting point, and throw in some physics with a bead on a piece of string for the intuition - but I still remember that in high school these things were completely disconnected in my mind and seemed like three different subjects that one had to learn separately.

The fact that it is private tutoring will make it easier, as you do not need to involve yourself with differences in student's levels and all sorts of group dynamics that teachers have to take into account.

Since you are saying that the experience is the main motivation, I would agree with "most people" and say: go for it!

Thank you. I may even wait until next year after I've taken calculus to start tutoring. I haven't decided yet.
 
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  • #4
symbolipoint
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I will mainly be tutoring in math; algebra, and some trigonometry. I would tutor in calculus, but I'll be taking calculus this semester.

My problem is, I'm just a little nervous because:
1. This will be the first job I've ever had.
2. My GPA is between a 3.1-3.5 range and I've gotten mostly B's, in my math classes in college so far.

GPA is not important. How well are you in "algebra" and the expected Trigonometry you would be tutoring for? What are you weak spots in "algebra" and Trigonometry? What grades did you earn in College Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and in Trigonometry? Have you reviewed these and learned them better regardless of grades you earned in them?

If you are good at those courses and want to tutor, then do it.
 
  • #5
symbolipoint
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Thank you. I may even wait until next year after I've taken calculus to start tutoring. I haven't decided yet.

The study of Calculus will help your Algebra. Still, if you are undeniably good at least in Intermediate Algebra, you may be ready now to help Algebra and Algebra 2 students.
 
  • #6
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GPA is not important. How well are you in "algebra" and the expected Trigonometry you would be tutoring for? What are you weak spots in "algebra" and Trigonometry? What grades did you earn in College Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and in Trigonometry? Have you reviewed these and learned them better regardless of grades you earned in them?

If you are good at those courses and want to tutor, then do it.

I never took college algebra or intermediate algebra. I placed straight into PreCalculus the fall semester and I took Trig the spring semester of last year.

My weak spots in algebra: factoring. I can factor, I usually just have to work on a few practice problems or review. I can do it, I just usually need to refresh my mind. Other than that, I'd say I'm pretty well at algebra.

My weak spots in trigonometry: proofs. The proofs were daunting, each one took a little thinking to do, but with a little manipulating it would work out. Graphing trigonometric functions was also another issue. At my school, graphing calculators are prohibited from any math class, so we had to draw the graphs by hand and find the zeroes. It could get very messy as well. We can still use scientific calculators, which is nice.

If I wait until next year, then most certainly my algebra skills would be better. I'm sure calculus takes your algebra skills to the limit. (No pun intended. :P)
 
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  • #7
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You'll learn more by tutoring then you will learn by taking more classes, so the sooner you get involved, the better.

It will take awhile to get your stride. You will occasionally run into a problem you can't solve or something you can't explain. This is normal. There are usually other tutors around to bail you out. Sometimes no-one will have a solution, and you might have to promise a student to get back to them on something. There's a bit of a "customer service" skill that's involved.

When I tutor, I try to spend any "down time" brushing up on the math I'm supposed to be tutoring, rather than working on my own homework. I try to patch up the holes in my knowledge. So if you have a problem with factoring, use that time to work on a bunch of problems and ask other tutors if you need help. There is no shame in that. I do it constantly. I've tutored Calc I-III and still have many weak spots I spend my time patching up so that I'm not caught off guard when someone asks me.
 
  • #8
symbolipoint
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I never took college algebra or intermediate algebra. I placed straight into PreCalculus the fall semester and I took Trig the spring semester of last year.

My weak spots in algebra: factoring. I can factor, I usually just have to work on a few practice problems or review. I can do it, I just usually need to refresh my mind. Other than that, I'd say I'm pretty well at algebra.

My weak spots in trigonometry: proofs. The proofs were daunting, each one took a little thinking to do, but with a little manipulating it would work out. Graphing trigonometric functions was also another issue. At my school, graphing calculators are prohibited from any math class, so we had to draw the graphs by hand and find the zeroes. It could get very messy as well. We can still use scientific calculators, which is nice.

If I wait until next year, then most certainly my algebra skills would be better. I'm sure calculus takes your algebra skills to the limit. (No pun intended. :P)


Only two suggestions seem apparent here:

Arrange for and have a professional assessment of your Algebra and Trigonometry knowledge. That can help you decide what to do.

Try tutoring as a volunteer, and find how well it goes, and what you need to do to gain the skill and knowledge you may be missing.
 
  • #9
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You'll learn more by tutoring then you will learn by taking more classes, so the sooner you get involved, the better.

It will take awhile to get your stride. You will occasionally run into a problem you can't solve or something you can't explain. This is normal. There are usually other tutors around to bail you out. Sometimes no-one will have a solution, and you might have to promise a student to get back to them on something. There's a bit of a "customer service" skill that's involved.

When I tutor, I try to spend any "down time" brushing up on the math I'm supposed to be tutoring, rather than working on my own homework. I try to patch up the holes in my knowledge. So if you have a problem with factoring, use that time to work on a bunch of problems and ask other tutors if you need help. There is no shame in that. I do it constantly. I've tutored Calc I-III and still have many weak spots I spend my time patching up so that I'm not caught off guard when someone asks me.

That is very true.. I will go for it then! I'm sure there will be other tutors around to help me out if need be. I was actually planning on brushing up on my math skills, I plan on doing that in my spare time aside from classes. Plus, I know that not everyone will have an answer to a problem, which is fine, or the tutor will accidentally mess up on a certain problem.
 
  • #10
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Only two suggestions seem apparent here:

Arrange for and have a professional assessment of your Algebra and Trigonometry knowledge. That can help you decide what to do.

Try tutoring as a volunteer, and find how well it goes, and what you need to do to gain the skill and knowledge you may be missing.

I'm not sure if the university offers that, but if they do then I will consider it. :)
 
  • #11
symbolipoint
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I'm not sure if the university offers that, but if they do then I will consider it. :)

In case your university does not have a source for volunteer tutoring, you might find some connection for it in your community. Your previous posting shows that you have the right idea about how to review your knowledge. You HAD to do your learning about Algebra and Trigonometry in some way. You went through at least one semester of Calculus in your university, but you did not go through the prerequisite courses yet, according to what you described. Did you study these on your own? (Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra or something Algebra more advanced than "intermediate", Trigonometry). It could work if you were sufficiently motivated and interested.
 
  • #12
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In case your university does not have a source for volunteer tutoring, you might find some connection for it in your community. Your previous posting shows that you have the right idea about how to review your knowledge. You HAD to do your learning about Algebra and Trigonometry in some way. You went through at least one semester of Calculus in your university, but you did not go through the prerequisite courses yet, according to what you described. Did you study these on your own? (Intermediate Algebra, College Algebra or something Algebra more advanced than "intermediate", Trigonometry). It could work if you were sufficiently motivated and interested.

I'm sorry, I may have worded my post oddly. I'm taking Calculus 1 this fall and Calculus 2 next spring. I took PreCalculus last fall and Trigonometry last spring.
 
  • #13
symbolipoint
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I'm sorry, I may have worded my post oddly. I'm taking Calculus 1 this fall and Calculus 2 next spring. I took PreCalculus last fall and Trigonometry last spring.

Good. If you earned A in PreCalculus (and maybe at least B in Trignmty) and if you earned at least B in Calculus 1, you are probably very capable of tutoring for College Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, and anything below. Your university may have the requirement of your having earned an A in Calculus 1 before you are allowed to tutor in their learning center room.
 
  • #14
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That is very true.. I will go for it then! I'm sure there will be other tutors around to help me out if need be. I was actually planning on brushing up on my math skills, I plan on doing that in my spare time aside from classes. Plus, I know that not everyone will have an answer to a problem, which is fine, or the tutor will accidentally mess up on a certain problem.

Essentially it's a job like any other. You should not be expected to be infallible. Most students will understand this, some won't - just like any other customer service position. And again, you will learn a lot.

-Dave K
 

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