My general approach to academics: goal-setting, organization, and study skills
In order for students to do their best, they must first figure out where exactly they would like to end up and how to create a plan to get there. By thinking about and establishing long-term goals and then backing into what is required of them today, this week, this month, students are able to take control of their academics, stay focused on the task at hand, and achieve their goals.
Therefore, with all of my students, I begin with goal-setting, organization, and study skills to help them develop a mental concept of what they want to accomplish and what tools they will need to get there. These topics constitute the solid foundation on which to build an enjoyable and successful academic experience. Furthermore, these are habits that, if developed and honed, will become life skills, indispensable for applying to schools, choosing a career, buying a house, making investments, etc.
Finally, I provide a wide variety of study skills materials, from general ways to take notes and organize information for effective studying, to time management charts for daily homework and weekly studying, to exam preparation sheets for planning ahead and creating an exam study schedule. As I always emphasize with my students: take control of your schoolwork instead of having it control you!
My subject-specific tutoring approach: The Socratic Method
“Take control of your schoolwork instead of having it control you!”
I have often referred to my approach as the “Socratic Method of Tutoring” because I don’t give answers to my students, but rather I ask questions of them. Merely providing answers to students’ questions stops their self-directed thought processes as they passively receive the information and move on to the next math problem, science question,grammar sentence, or Latin translation.
Certainly many of my students might prefer that I did just give them answers, but then I would be doing them a great disservice. I remind them that I will not always be near to provide the answer – most significantly during a testor exam – so they must develop the capacity to lead themselves to the solutions they require, to train their brains to actively search for and make the connections that will get them back on track. Hard things are hard, but worth it.
So, instead, I ask them questions to help them connect what they do know to what they are trying to figure out. In this fashion, I show them how to ask pertinent questions of themselves while they are doing their work or taking a test. This process enables them to create more neural connections and to strengthen existing ones in their brains. The end result is a student who is more independent and confident and better able to take on greater academic challenges with enthusiasm and desire instead of fear and loathing.