For a while I just had a single-page website. I used to add new bits of information on a regular basis. And then I looked at my website one day and I realised I had added so much stuff that it was just unreadable! So, I had a clear-out and moved some things to this new page! You are welcome to read this extra stuff and people have told me it helped them to get more of a feeling about me and my tutoring and so helped them make a decision.
I have found that I can help the most in three specific situations. (Full version before it was edited down for the homepage!)
- (1) Tutoring on a weekly basis if the exams are just a year (or so) away can create a large improvement in ability that will generally be retained when tutoring stops. Note, this is a very sensible approach if (say) a particular grade is required to then go on and study a different subject. It is also great if someone wants to continue with Maths and has decided they would like extra help (perhaps the exam results were not what they hoped or they can sense their teachers are not helping them as much as they would like). Thirdly, Maths can be a real boost in many careers and the benefits can therefore carry on well beyond school.
- (2) Tutoring on an occasional basis, started early can build a large, sustained improvement in mathematical ability. The earlier this is started the better (towards the end of KS2 or the start of KS3 is recommended). This can create life-changing improvements in confidence and ability which are often transferred to other subjects. Maths learnt properly from an early age is an enormous advantage as you get older whatever you end up doing. I believe it is only necessary to have a tutorial every few weeks, although an initial burst of weekly tutorials for a couple of months is usually best to rebuild some fundamentals.
- (3) If there is an exam a couple of months away (or even sooner) and an extra boost is needed! Just a few tutorials (preferably at least three) each lasting about an hour and a half will help. This gives practice at sustaining concentration for the length of time of an exam and enough repitition to gain some points. I will also teach some exam-technique tricks. This can be fun and helpful but remember that if Maths is important then it is nowhere near as effective as (for example) tutoring for a year.
- ...or is your situation not here? You are welcome to contact me and I will see if I can help!
Things I am happy to tutor:-
You are welcome to contact me directly for more information. My specialist subjects is Maths... I am able to coach a student up to A* at A-level for this. Note, I can also give help for science subjects (including Physics up to A-Level).
- Maths: 11 plus and Common Entrance Exams (including Grammar School entrance and Canford Scholarship)
- Maths: Foundation GCSE
- Maths: Higher GCSE
- Maths: International Baccalaureate
- Maths: AS-Level
- Maths: A-Level
- Physics: up to and including A-Level
- Chemistry: up to and including GCSE
- Biology: up to and including GCSE
Maths and Science are special subjects:
Research has shown that these are subjects where tutoring can have a measureable impact on exam performance (ref: research at the Institute of Education). Normally I start a tutorial with a "warm-up" drilling basic skills through repetition (focussing on the student's weaknesses) using exercises specially written for the session. These warm-ups can last the whole lesson initially as we focus on basic skills for initial exam-performance gains. Note, this is one of the reasons my tutoring is such good value: I write all of these warmups so that they are tuned to exactly the level of the student. Personalised questions means that confidence and skills grow faster: good confidence and basic skills means that the student can then start working through longer questions...
These longer questions are either chosen by the student (which helps to make them feel empowered) or I choose for them if I feel something is particularly important. I do not (generally) act as "expert" during these sessions...
...instead I share good exam technique and skills and we work as a team. This means they are learning that improved Maths performance is a learnable skill and not something magic: very important. Generally, if they can do something I'll either say "great, lets skip this and move onto the next thing". Note, I rarely say the thing that I've often heard other teachers say: "that's good, let's find some ways to do that quicker to buy us more time in the exam"... this is because I find it just loads the student with more things to remember and speed ultimately comes from familiarity and confidence... arguably speed is decreased if more tricks are learnt. This second phase where longer questions are attempted is also where the problem-solving skills really start to be learnt too... this is where additional benefits in other subjects (as well as the gains that good Maths will bring anyway) will be gained as well.
If they can't do it I will try and prompt them to the correct answer by asking questions such as: "Can you read the question out loud to me?"; "Did you remember our plan to summarise the question before trying to answer?" or; "What is this question about?" (followed by) "So, what do you know about triangles that might help?"... Actually, this is not strictly true... what I do is subtler than this... often I don't say anything and just point at the sheet of paper that says "think twice" that (maybe if it is a teaching tool I've chosen for this student) I stick on the table every tutorial (two words that summarise the strategic change I am trying to create in their brains)... or I might just lean back and make a thoughtful "hmmmm" noise and the student then just goes "arrrggghhh I forgot to try to use algebra again" (and another step has been taken along the path of them remembering themselves)...
To try again to say the last paragraph better... as we progress I try give fewer instructions and more information. What do I mean? Strategy and problem-solving skills and laying-out skills can be learnt and then applied to all topics. I teach these things in a connected way so they do not need re-teaching for each topic. The information for each new topic obviously does need communicating. So, a way I measure my progress is how much time I spend working on these two aspects. A tutorial with a student I have been teaching for a while can look very strange... with both of us talking very fast, finishing each other's sentences and half-finishing the question we are doing and then moving on to the next question when we know the crucial knowledge-gap has been filled and the rest of the question is "easy"... if this is happening I am generally confident we are there... we are reading each other's minds and able to generate a very high speed of learning... the strategy has been largely learned and the knowledge is being filled-in. There will typically be one question in a tutorial where I refuse to help and the student has to work it all out for themself... an opportunity for me to check progress and I often pick a question that is very difficult as a challenge to further develop problem-solving skills (I will often then talk-through how I might have solved it myself, pretending that I didn't know what to do either and also had to work it out).
I am continually trying to teach them to help themselves... and I praise good technique much more than getting the correct answer. After 2 or 3 months I find their confidence grows and by then I've had time to really develop their weaker skills. In general, performance/exam improvements will have already been achieved... at which point I will start pushing them into using more advanced skills, significantly beyond anything they will have done before. This is where the really big gains can start to kick in.
It is obviously possible to gain some benefit from emergency lessons close to exam time. I would use my judgement to find the best way to help the student in circumstances like these. I generally do two things:- 1. Work on their exam technique so that they are making maximum use of their existing skills and; 2. Pick on a few "easy hits" where I can see they are missing out on marks and where they can be gained fairly easily. Remember this is not as good as tutoring over a period of (say) a year. A key difference is that if (for example) they are weak at fractions I may never even mention it to them... simply ignoring it in the knowledge that fixing it would be too difficult in the time available... mentioning it would simply lower their confidence... instead I would target easier gains elsewhere.