5 Tips for Being Productive in the Math Tutoring Clinic (From a Tutor’s perspective)
Let’s face it, not everyone is good at Math (that’s a shocker right?). It’s a good thing that there are people for that! And I’m one of those people (surprisingly). I’ve been working at the Math Tutoring Clinic since Fall 2019, so I haven’t been a Math Tutor for very long. I really got the job because of my grades in Math, but really, I’m not that good at remembering Math that I haven’t done in a while.
However, as a graduate student in Math once told me, “The best way to learn Math is by teaching it!” So, here are five tips for you, a struggling math student, in order to make your time in the Math Tutoring Clinic more productive and helpful!
Go to class and take some notes!
As I mentioned earlier, I’m one of those people who forgets Math concepts after not using them for a while. That trig problem you’re struggling with? Yeah, I haven’t really done trig since my Junior year in high school (that’s nearly three years ago...gosh I feel kinda old now). That Maclaurin series in Calc? Listen, y'all, I hated series with every fiber of my being in Calc.
So your notes that you take in class (no matter how messy they are) really help give us tutors a refresher on concepts we haven’t touched on in a long time. After we’ve “refreshed” on your topic, there’s a really good chance we can solve your problems (your Math problems not the rest of them, unfortunately).
If that’s not the case, then there’s always tip #2:
The Tutors don’t have an expansive knowledge of Math (unless you’ve been working as a Tutor for years, or are a Math graduate student)
How many Math Tutors does it take to solve a problem? Sometimes it’s one person, other times it’s all the tutors on the shift, a single graduate student, or all of the above. Usually, I’ll ask for help from other tutors if I don’t know a problem, and then stick around to see how they solve it, so the next time I’ll be able to teach it better.
Trust me, I feel really guilty if I can’t solve your Math problem, but unfortunately, that’s just something I have to go through as I become a better tutor for you all!
Although, if everyone in the entire tutoring clinic can’t solve your problem, this means that it is a special case, caused by one thing…
Somewhere, Somehow, Someway, Your Professor Definitely Messed Up
This is a rare occurrence, and it’s only happened a few times during my time at the Math Clinic. Usually, this confirmation comes after several tutors have tried it, AND a Math graduate student gets extremely confused about the problem.
Your professors are human too (even though the Math they do sometimes seems like it came from somewhere else). So even though you came to the tutoring clinic to escape the professor who you claim is terrible or scary, we’re gonna have to send you back to them (sorry!). But hey, that discovery of your professor’s mistake helps the entire class who is also probably confused too!
Oh and while we’re on the topic of your Math Professor…
DISCLAIMER: We are in no way responsible for how your professor wants you to solve your Math problems
I think we’ve all had that one Math teacher who wanted us to solve problems in a certain way. You thought that it would stop in college, but you, my friend, are very wrong. It never stops. There are even arguments amongst Math professors as to how they want you to do Calculus.
I definitely have not taken every Math Professor at UNLV to know everyone’s method of doing Math. So, if you get all your answers marked wrong because you didn’t show the work that your professor wanted you to, we tutors didn’t really know any better...oops. Although if you followed Tip 1 and went to class, we can attempt to do those problems in the professor’s method. But unfortunately, this problem usually arises among all you Calculus students out there. The only advice I can give here is that office hours are a godsend.
Bother us with all your Math Problems! (Because getting paid to do Math is pretty cool)
There are times when the Tutoring Clinic is completely empty. Those times are usually after or between midterms. So when it is pretty empty, I’ll go ahead and do homework during my shift (that may or may not be Math homework). Usually, I’ll get mistaken as another struggling Math student (outside of my shift as a tutor, I really am just another struggling Math student).
Sometimes I won’t notice that people have questions because I’m so absorbed in my work or I’m helping someone else. So we don’t mind if you come up to grab our attention. Even though we’re always looking out for students with questions, we’ll definitely miss a few here and there. It’s not like we have eyes at the back of our heads after all! So make sure to bother us so you can get the help you need!
Well, that’s all the tips I have. Hopefully, you feel a little more prepared (and more comfortable) when you visit the Math Tutoring Clinic! So I’ll end with some housekeeping information. We’re located in Central Desert Complex Building 7. And we’re also open on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm as well as Tuesday and Wednesdays from 10:00 am - 7:00 pm. Just sign in and take a seat and we’ll be happy to help you out! Hope to see you there!