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Tutor Spotlight: 5 Questions with Matthew S.
Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tutor Tango is excited to welcome the highly-talented and charismatic Matthew S. to our online tutoring network.  Matthew has eight years of tutoring experience, four years of teaching experience, and he holds a BS in Mathematics from the City University of New York. He tutors algebra, calculus, geometry, precalculus, and math sections of a wide range of standardized tests, including the ACT and SAT. 

We recently sat down with Matthew (via cyberspace, to be specific), and asked him a few questions.  Here are the highlights:

1. What inspired you to become an educator?
I was daydreaming in a freshman film history class in college. I was an engineering student who just realized being an engineer is probably boring but I didn’t want my math credits to go to waste. It suddenly hit me that my favorite part of 6th grade was when my teacher let me teach the class for 2 minutes and the girl that never spoke exclaimed at the end, “I got it now!”

2. What's the most unconventional or teaching method you've relied on as a tutor?
I encourage students to ask stupid questions. Asking stupid questions does not make you stupid--it makes you better at math.

3. Most of Tutor Tango's tutors have expertise in multiple subjects. If you had to tutor only one subject, what would it be and why?
Math. I’ve always liked to know “why." Math is the easiest subject to accumulate the most straightforward answers to “Why?” and thus the easiest subject to master. If I am not a master of my subject and I can’t answer questions as a teacher, I feel I am doing a disservice to the student.

4. Online learning: passing fad, or here to stay?
It will be the norm soon. Online learning allows you to pick the best teachers and tutors around the world with ease. When the masses become aware that right now you can watch MIT Calculus lectures for free, learning from videos will become much more widely encouraged. When it becomes common knowledge that many of the best tutors are working online with no limitations on their abilities (and just benefits such as much easier scheduling), online tutoring will just become common.

5. What qualities in a tutor do you think are most important? Why?

Patience, the ability to simplify, and being a good detective. The ability to simplify is crucial to being a good teacher. If you can't break down concepts to their simplest steps, then you're going to hear too many "huh"'s. However, good teachers don't always make good tutors. When a student has exclusive access to you, they should get every question and every "huh" answered. You need to be able to detect where a student got lost and what exactly they're trying to ask (it can be especially hard to ask a precise question in math). Also, you must be patient because nothing makes a student less likely to ask questions if they feel they are going to be unfairly criticized for not knowing the answers.


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