Originally I had thought I was simply doing research and getting experience, in addition to generating a little bit of income flow, while I worked on the big project.
But now I find myself thinking that long after I finish writing Singapore Math Figured Out For Parents, I still want to keep tutoring math. It's simply one of the most rewarding activities I've ever found, I'm good at it, and I want to keep doing it. (I also want to keep writing and doing various other things, fans and friends; I promise not to become a mad tutoring-addicted hermit anytime soon).
So I began to figure out how to market myself as a math tutor, and a marketing campaign is like any other art form (and if your marketing people don't think marketing is an art form, fire them now. You really can't wait.) Something I learned to do in creativity classes which has served me in good stead for writing books and short stories, planning courses, designing for the stage, and yes, marketing campaigns, is to work up a longish personal statement about how I see the thing to be done, why I feel I am the one to do it, where the connections and the don't forgets and the traps and the opportunities are. Usually these stay in my desk, but as I looked at the now-almost-finished campaign plan, I thought that starting Personal Statement of Purpose was something I wouldn't mind having other people see. In fact, I thought it did a great job of explaining who I am and what I'm about, for this math tutoring gig.
So here it is, formatted for the blog, modified here and there. Sometimes it talks to parents of kids with math problems, sometimes to myself, sometimes to the sort of general social audience the blog has, and every now and then I guess just to the universe. It's a bit raw here and there, but crunchy, and some of you may find it tasty.
And if not, well, more math history soon. A couple think pieces about non math subjects, too.
All right, enough warnings, here we go:
The pitch as truthful as I can make it
I know he's not lazy,
I know she's not dumb,
but my kid is having such a bad time with math...
About my approach to tutoring
- For kids with math problems that are neither lack of effort nor lack of intelligence, I identify the fundamental blocks to the kid's progress in math and teach them how to turn a wall into a bridge.
- In my experience, most math barriers are not cognitive and most kids struggling with math homework are not lazy; the problem is most often conceptual, a set of wrong, absent, or misleading ideas about math that a child acquired earlier. I offer a diagnosis that finds the conceptual problem, and exercises, experiences, and practice based on Singapore Math to correct the student's understanding, apply that better understanding to catching up with peers, and incorporate that correct view of mathematics into their approach permanently.
- My approach is family-centered; you will know the purpose of every exercise and assignment, how to help your kid master it, and how to extend what I teach to regular school homework and often to learning other subjects. Part of delivering the improvement in math skills is guiding the whole family to talking about math and homework more effectively (more smarts for less tears!)
- I think mathematics is one of the most powerful, profound, beautiful, and worthwhile achievements of our species and it is every kid's right to participate in it fully; I teach them how to claim their right.
I want your kid for
the Math Path, and the Math Path for your kid
Also, the world needs your kid to
be on the Math Path
The other two paths, from which I
hope to rescue them
I can do
Who I hope to serve with this new
I've been along the Refugee Trail From Eden myself
Who I want to help, and what I want
to help them to
Some of the situations that have
brought my successful tutees and students to me
- Kid identified as twice exceptional
- Teachers saying they don't know what to try next and nothing's working
- Kid has stopped doing math homework and won't try, or makes an attempt for show and then shuts down in tears of frustration
- Kid has been drilled heavily but can't remember math facts in a usable way; on homework or in class, if the kid is presented with exactly the same problem a few minutes apart, s/he does not recognize it and has to solve it all over again.
- Kid seems to start all problems at very basic level (counting on fingers, reciting rules out loud, etc.) and does not seem to be moving away from this.
- Kid applies rules arbitrarily (cross multiplies fractions regardless of the problem, chooses numbers apparently at random out of a story problem and does some simple operation on them).
- Executive function problems -- kid can do one step but can't break a problem into pieces and do the pieces in the correct order.
- Kid has and follows some inexplicable wrong rules all his/her own (for example, I dealt with one boy who had separate rules for adding and multiplying digits that formed closed loops -- that is, he had one set of rules for 1, 2,3, 5, 7 and another set for 6, 8, 9; and which way he tried to add or multiply 4 depended on whether it was written with an open or closed top).
- Kid appears to think that you or his teacher could just decide that his/her answers were correct, but you won't because you're mean.