Teaching Remote Math During COVID
Teaching math and supporting all students was already a difficult job.
We recently sat down with our Director of Academics Kreg Moccia to pick his brain and learn about his background in education. In this next installment, we get to know Kreg’s perspective on high-quality math tutoring, embracing mistakes as learning opportunities, and what he’s looking forward to for the future.
Every session starts with the student sharing a photo of their problem, and the work they’ve already done for it. This way, the tutor isn’t starting from scratch—they get the context of seeing where the student is at, where they have knowledge gaps. The tutor can then form a plan for teaching that particular concept.
Of course, sometimes students ask for the answer, and I get why. Maybe past experiences with math makes them hesitant to work with a tutor, less they stumble again. When in reality, making mistakes is such an important part of learning!
It’s definitely a process, but it’s important to impart to students that mistakes aren’t a bad thing. They’re how we learn! We make sure our tutors use positive language. For example, if a student says to a tutor “I don’t know how to do this” and is ready to give up, the tutor may respond like “You don’t know how to do this yet, but you’ll get there! Have you thought of this approach?”
This helps the student feel some success right away and provides them with an alternate approach to tackle the same problem. The tutor will continue to guide the student through finding the solution, in a way where the student is empowered to think critically and own the problem-solving process.
The student experience will always vary depending on what they need. Tutors assess where the student is at in terms of conceptual understanding so they can adjust their instruction in terms of pace and approach.
Our pedagogy, also known as our teaching methods. It’s made up of three pillars: Socratic Method, Growth Mindset, and Learning Over Cheating.
Socratic method goes way back. People learn best by thinking critically instead of absorbing information passively. I spoke to this a bit in our last discussion. To encourage this critical thinking, you actively engage students with questions about the problem they’re trying to solve so that they can play an active role in reaching the solution.
Much of the time you’re working with students who have repeatedly experienced feelings of academic defeat. We need to reframe how they think of mistakes, so that they recognize them as opportunities to learn. To accomplish this, we make sure our tutors are versed in the kind of language that helps build a Growth Mindset. This could be anything from “you’re almost there!” to “you’re putting in a great effort, have you considered this approach?” If you tell a student “no, that’s wrong,” they’re less likely to want to engage.
Learning Over Cheating is pretty much what it sounds like. Unlike many of the other online tutoring providers, Yup tutors aren’t just giving away answers. Of course, there’s the ethical reasoning as to why we don’t do that, but just as importantly, that’s not an effective way to learn concepts. Getting students to truly understand the math concepts they need to solve problems will help them when they’re doing homework or studying in the future.
We read every tutoring transcript and score them on a rubric. The rubric measures good teaching according to best practices. One of these metrics is “gap bridged”, which indicates whether the student got to the correct answer to the question they submitted.
Every single session is also rated by the student! Did they have a good session or not? Our students are not shy about leaving feedback, which is often very positive. However, when it is constructive, we take all feedback very seriously and will use it to improve.
Becoming an industry leader in best practices in teaching math or tutoring math online, and then expanding into other subjects like chemistry and physics. Also, I want to be known in the tutoring profession as a place for professional tutors to come to develop their craft. This is a place where we give you the resources to improve and be the best tutor you can be. We’re here to help students be their best, and we want the same for the tutors that serve them!
In case you missed it, check out part one of our conversation with Kreg!