How I Tutor Mathematics

My Approach to Maths Tutoring

I have taught Maths in a number of mainstream and SEN 11 – 16 schools and in my experience there are many reasons why learners have difficulties with the subject. I have highlighted below a number of reasons I have observed or been quoted for lack of progress or success in Maths.  The list is by no means exhaustive.
The belief that “Mathematics can only be understood by certain types of people”.
Lack of  motivation. “Mathematics is so hard it’s not worth bothering to try to understand”.
Additional Support Needs such as Dyscalcula or poor comprehension skills.
Relevance. Students often don’t understand why they are studying maths or statistics.
Self belief. Confidence leads to the desire to persevere and the willingness to seek help.
Teaching methods, language and material unsuitable for the individual.
Pace of lessons being too fast resulting in a poor understanding of the basics.
Lack of appropriate and timely feedback.
Not having processes broken down into more manageable parts that build on each other.

I believe my 26 years of teaching experience and my work experience prior to teaching has enabled me to become a more rounded tutor.  I am able to give tutees a broader sense of the purpose Maths in work, society and their personal lives.

I use a number of methods when tutoring.  They include established pen and paper techniques, online videos and games, textbooks and past question papers.


First Meeting

The main aim of the first meeting , currently using Zoom,  or telephone is to get to know the student and understand what their requirements and needs are.  This initial contact is free.

I strongly believe that the student has to feel involved with, and in control of, their own learning. 

The meeting usually involves a discussion about the student’s reasons for wanting tuition. Together we determine any specific areas the student wants to focus on and the student’s aims and objectives for the tuition.

  Teaching methods and learning styles are identified so that the tuition can be tailored to the student’s needs.

To help the student to assess their strengths and areas needing improvement here are links to checklists of the National 4 and 5 Maths content and GCSE Foundation and Higher tiers.  If the student wants to, these can be downloaded, filled in and emailed back to me before we agree what tuition is needed.

Using Zoom

Due to current circumstances tutoring is undertaken online.  I use the share screen facility in Zoom to:

Use the OpenBoard whiteboard with a XP Pen tablet to write interactively.
Show online videos and demonstrations.
Use interactive games and activities.

Tutoring Style

This is a very brief outline of the structured approach I take to teaching Mathematics.
It is by no means fixed and changes according the needs of the student.

At all stages the student is encouraged to be proactive and engage in active learning.
The aim is to develop a high degree of independence and address many of the issues outlined above.

Identify the task.
Break the task down into parts.
Identify the underlying concepts.
Define the approach to solving the problem.
Address the task(s) and teach the required concepts and methods.
Review the concepts and processes and provide feedback.
Address any problems or misconceptions.
Apply what has been learnt.
Confirm understanding and correct application.
Summarise what has been achieved.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay