For my practicum site, I chose to tutor math at Ellicott Mills Middle School in Ellicott City, MD. My main focus was tutoring students in math by helping them complete their overdue assignments. My site supervisor was Margaret Caporaletti, the math teacher I had in 8th grade at Ellicott Mills. She was a major influence on me when I was in her class and was one of the people who greatly influenced my decision to become a math major so I wanted to work with her again. I contacted her via email to inquire about volunteering in her class and was welcomed to do so immediately.
While volunteering I worked one on one with students to reinforce what was being taught to them in the classroom. The one on one time that was spent with students was valuable considering they all had different strengths and weaknesses. After a few days, I could tailor my efforts to better help each student understand concepts that they struggled with. I came to tutor at a time when students had free time to do whatever work they wanted, as long as they were doing school work they could work on any subject. Students at first did not want to work on math, after a few days they knew that if I was there they would have no choice but to do that homework they forgot to turn in from a few weeks ago... or those test corrections from the test on which they received a mediocre grade. The main hardship of my tutoring experience was to actually get the students to want to do the work. Once the work was started, however, the students would be focused and interested in getting help from me.
From my experience, I learned that tutoring science is very different than tutoring most other subjects. With science, there's no way to memorize facts or get the answers straight out of a book. Each problem is different when it comes to math, and when I was teaching I would be teaching more about logic and concepts rather than having students memorize facts like one would do in a history class. Overall I learned that learning science is about learning how to connect concepts and then applying them to many different situations and problems. I taught students methods for solving problems rather than teaching them how to do every specific problem. This was beneficial because then, when problems had different numbers and variables, they knew how to complete them based on a general method.
This experience effected my future career dramatically considering now I know for sure that I do not want to be a math teacher. I had always had an inkling that teaching would be something that I did not have the patience for but I never knew the reason why. Now I understand that I am better at teaching students one on one than in a group. For that reason, in the future I plan on possibly interning at a learning center as a tutor because I was effective when it came to one on one time with students. I will not, however, narrow my focus to teaching because with the students in a group, I was much less effective because I couldn't adjust my tutoring style to suit every students need. I rather enjoyed working with students on an individual basis,however. For that reason I feel confident as a math major on the statistics track because there was a time when I thought of switching to the education track in math. Overall, however, this experience was very beneficial and I really enjoyed volunteering. I plan on looking into more tutoring options for this summer and would like to stay with the same age group of students (ages 13-14).