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Behind the Screens with Madhu Trasi
Tutor Insights into Student Success
At Tutor.com, our greatest assets are our rigorously vetted and highly qualified tutors. We are thrilled to spotlight our talented tutors and share their insights into student success and online learning.
Tell us about yourself. Why did you join the Tutor.com team?
I have a master’s degree in engineering but found my calling in tutoring math. It has been ten years since my first Tutor.com session, and I continue to find it just as interesting and mentally stimulating today as I did when I was new to the world of online tutoring. At Tutor.com I started out tutoring English and math and eventually chose to focus on math. My overall tutoring experience is varied: besides Tutor.com, I have tutored elementary school students in English and math at my public library, taught high school geometry to a student seeking admission to a prestigious magnet school, and coached high school juniors preparing for their ACT® math and science.
I currently tutor K–12 math, which includes students from first grade who are finding their way into the magical world of numbers, to students learning elementary and middle school math, algebra I, algebra II, geometry, trigonometry, test-prep ACT and SAT® math, and student success subjects.
How do you define student success in your role as an academic tutor?
I view student success through the prism of a long-time math tutor; student success starts the moment a student gains the knowledge to solve an intimidating problem. As they take more steps toward their objective, they learn that effort brings rewards, and they experience a newfound confidence in their abilities; this in turn boosts their resolve to persevere when faced with a tougher problem. With time, they learn the value of staying the course and tackling each new challenge along the way to their goal.
Are there any key factors you feel contribute to student success?
Being open to seeking help, staying actively involved during the learning process, demonstrating resilience in the face of difficulties, and continually striving to refine and improve – these are key factors that contribute to student success.
How do you support and guide students in setting and reaching their academic goals?
Taking time to determine where the student currently is on the academic scale is vital to the success of my tutoring endeavors. I ask questions that seek to get a sense of their
starting environment: any setbacks they have encountered, and any gaps in knowledge that need to be taken into account in order to tailor my guidance. In this way, I make sure that the type of support I deliver is one that would be most beneficial to the student as they strive to reach their academic goals.
How do you address and support students who may be struggling or facing obstacles on their path to success?
There are two aspects of this support: empathy for their struggle, and recognition of their progress. The first is essential to building trust, while the second cheers them on the path to victory. I acknowledge their feelings of discouragement and let them know that I am available and present to help along every step of the way; I encourage them to stop me any time they feel lost or would like me to elaborate on a specific point. This sets the tone for an environment of care and understanding. Another practice I employ is to chart a roadmap that lists out short and long-term goals, which we revisit along the course of the problem-solving, so the student has a clear idea of their progress. I motivate them with praise after a particularly challenging step and point out how they are advancing.
From your perspective, how does the online learning environment affect the relationship between a tutor and their students? Are there any unique advantages or challenges in this regard?
Students can be more open to online learning because it can be accessed from any location, and there is the added advantage of flexibility in terms of pace and scheduling. Tutors can create and share lesson plans online and in advance, and upload notes or flashcards to make it easier for students (who missed classes or might have misplaced their own notes) to catch up. Message boards are a great tool for students from remote locations who may be working jointly on a project.
With the online platform though, we lack the luxury of tone and facial expressions, which can have an effect on the pace and flow of a tutoring session. Tutors may need to be more creative to keep their students’ attention. They must rely on their ability to sense confusion by reading between the lines, or to discern hesitancy and lack of confidence from a student’s choice of words.
What is the most rewarding aspect of working with students as an academic tutor?
One student’s response summed it up better than I ever could:
Ohh…this is actually fun when it makes sense! Every tutoring session is an opportunity to make a difference in a student’s life, and being able to facilitate that journey from frustration to complete understanding is incredibly motivating and satisfying!
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