FAQs2022-05-12T06:43:20+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

We have a wealth of information here that will help you choose a good tutor and answer questions you may have about the tutoring process. If you don’t find the answer you’re looking for below, send us your question using the form at the bottom of the page.

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We need and would be willing to pay for expenses for you to come to us for a minimum of 4-5 hours a week for 4 weeks. Is this something that you could even reasonably do?2020-07-29T23:51:19+00:00

Thank you for reaching out. I admire you and your daughter for determining that you will do whatever it takes. This is something we would need to discuss of course, at length. If we were to move forward on this, I would need to spend a fair amount of time constructing a plan of tasks, as well as expectations, and a level of assessing. Theoretically, YES, I would love the challenge. Please contact me ASAP to begin the discussion and planning phase. It sounds like your daughter is a very special student and person.

Are you a teacher?2020-07-29T20:00:51+00:00

In terms of connecting with students, imparting knowledge and skills, and developing relationships with my students and parents, yes. I have done substitute teaching. I work with groups of students, but not as a formal teaching employee. Working with students in this way, gives me the flexibility to take on a wide range of subject matter. I can “do the work” that matters the most with my students. Working with individual students or small groups gives me the ability to make those connections more easily. I also enjoy the flexibility of working with students across the country as well.

I have been an in-house technical trainer professionally and have also worked and volunteered in a home for emotionally disturbed children. Check out the About Joe page for more details on my educational and professional background.

If the situation suggests, do you ever meet with teachers and the parents and students.2020-07-29T20:01:07+00:00

Absolutely. If the school requires it, sometimes I and the school will need written permission to communicate with teachers about a student.

What are your hours?2020-07-29T20:01:30+00:00

I try to make myself available as much as I can. The hours available vary depending on the student’s situation. Recently, with more high school students taking “remote” classes from their school, I have earlier available times earlier in the day than what would be normally available. I work with students and parents to find times and days that fit everyone’s schedule. I have worked as early as 6 am before school and late into the evening around finals.

Times outside of a “normal” workday (before 9 am or after 7 pm, for example, might incur an additional premium.). We can talk about that.

My daughter is very happy with her progress since seeing you. She wants to see you only on the day before the test. I told her I would ask you.2020-08-06T18:52:38+00:00

There is not enough time in the day to honor that request with every student that wants to. Wanting to do this is based on the false notion that cramming works. It does not. Also, teachers change test days sometimes at the last minute, which would result in a late cancellation. I strive to teach the students that the goals are mastery of the material. Unfortunately, it is not always the case that the class dynamics in high school have this as the primary goal. The focus is often primarily on the next quiz or test. A memorization mindset then kicks in. Memorization does not work at well as learning the material.

I teach the students to be prepared daily for what they have been taught.

What if my student has a scheduling conflict and needs to cancel?2020-07-29T20:00:11+00:00

In order to cancel without charge, I require 24-hour notice. I am generally more flexible with rescheduling when it comes to illness. As the students get older, they will often handle scheduling. Students need to clearly understand the cancellation policy and manage their schedules as it relates to work, sports and other activities. Having a student text me an hour before an appointment that they don’t have anything to go over and they want to cancel will generally result in a charge for that appointment.

What is the normal time length of a 1-1 tutoring session?2020-07-29T20:04:32+00:00

Usually one hour. It is rare that I schedule time less than an hour, but that is something we can chat about. When getting close to finals, or when working with university students, 1-1/2 is often the norm. I have extended to two hours; a lot depends on the attention span of the student, as well as the specifics of the situation.

I saw somewhere here where you mentioned tutoring high-level university technical classes. Do you ever take classes or self-teach yourself to be able to expand your student base?2020-07-29T20:07:54+00:00

Excellent! Thanks for asking. I am always self-improving. Part of the answer, however, is knowing HOW to learn something new. I am developing a video series to teach students how to teach themselves new material. We are quickly moving into a world where students at all levels are going to be required to teach themselves.

More specifically to your question, I recently completed a three-course challenging Technical Writing Certification from Cal State Dominguez Hills. I recognized this as an interest area or mine and I knew I did not have all the skills and training of a technical write and would need outside guidance.

I once had a high school student who needed help with university level chemistry, then organic chemistry, when she moved on to college. Chemistry is now a major topic of support as I had to learn the core concepts of organic chemistry.

My family is planning an international vacation for the summer. Our 4 children range in age from 9 to 17. They are all high performers in a private school setting. We are quite aware of how “learning degradation” happens over summer break. We are looking for that right person to travel with us. We want the personal touch as well as someone who can relate local history around the world to different subject matter and make this interesting for our children. Are you skilled and experienced in multiple age groups and multiple subjects to do this? How important is the “student connection” to what and how you educate? We have tried for two years and have been unsuccessful finding anyone with the breadth and depth and ability to engage students to do this at the level of expectations we require. Can you help?2020-07-29T20:10:19+00:00

Here is how I would proceed on something like this—an international tutoring experience, as part of an international learning experience, would be a once in a lifetime experience for your family. We both would need to be very comfortable with each other to commit to such an arrangement. We would need to have several discussions and meet even multiple times. We must know and agree to what our mutual expectations are. Having said that, I would definitely consider this given the right situation. You need to know if I have the skills. Equally important, you absolutely must see how my style, my personality, my creativity and values align with those of your family.

Do you teach or tutor multiple students at a time?2020-07-29T20:13:21+00:00

There are a number of scenarios where this is a great idea. I have done PSAT/SAT/ACT sessions with small groups (up to six students.). I generally don’t go larger than that because personal touch and individualized attention are compromised. I have been asked, however, to lead a half-day session, prepping a full class onsite at a school for standardized tests. That scenario can be adjusted to do an online “Zoom-like” presentation.

Many “prep companies” will do in person or online sessions with a classroom full of students. I am VERY wary of “jamming in as many kids as possible into a room.” “Lectures” have been proven to be less efficient and beneficial to students than other forms of “classroom learning.” Small groups and/or Socratic methods most often are more beneficial to the students.

When tutoring multiple students simultaneously in a given subject, the students need to be sufficiently close to each other in their level of mastery to make the session productive.

What is the most important accomplishment that you try to achieve with students especially when my child is far behind?2020-07-29T20:15:52+00:00

I like this question. Make no mistake, many tutoring sessions are focused on addressing a short-term issue. That is a student may be having a specific problem with a specific topic, then mastery of that topic is the goal.

A large proportion of my students, however, I see on a regular basis. They, as with most students, need to learn how to learn. They need to learn how to stay engaged in the classroom when they hit a topic that they have no idea how to process or understand. They need to learn how to ask questions. They need to learn to focus on changing of habits as opposed to “motivation” to raise performance. (Motivation alone rarely works.)

Unfortunately, many schools rarely get into addressing these underlying issues that need to be turned into accomplishments. And, yes, from a topical point of view, helping the student to develop confidence to master a topic that they previously did not think they could handle is always the goal as well.

One of my prime accomplishments is developing a strong connection with my students. Nothing long-lasting is really possible without it.

Do online (Zoom) tutoring and lectures work?2020-07-29T20:20:05+00:00

Great question. During the COVID situation, many schools have migrated to Zoom lectures. Zoom is a toolset; it is not a universal solution for education. In fact, using Zoom to do something it is not meant to do can make the students’ experience worse than without it.

Remote education via Zoom (or similar platform) does NOT generally work well with early primary age students. Zoom education calls that are meant to replace in- class lectures, where there is generally disruption in the class, will still have that disruption, making that online lecture problematic at best.

Zoom calls that are used in a classroom environment where the in-person education experience does NOT have a lot of interaction with students will be very problematic when done in a remote scenario. Attention from the students will simply not be there.

On the other hand, I am at most working with a limited number of students when I am interacting remotely. My sessions are VERY interactional. Some of my lessons are meant as primarily teaching lessons. However, most of my sessions are problem-solving sessions requiring a high degree of interaction. I extensively use the shared desktop functions of these tools to work with the student to understand the problems, as well as my drawing pad notebook to work through problems together.

Given the ability to work effectively with students remotely, there is no real geographical limits. International tutoring can easily be accomplished. In fact, I have looked into doing international family tutoring for families that might travel for extended periods of time and would need support while away from their home schools.

I am very confused. My son has been a B student his whole life. He is a junior in high school. He is failing his math class. He never has much homework. He is failing his tests. He says he does not recognize the material on the tests. How do we recover?2020-07-29T20:22:28+00:00

Sadly, I get this question a lot—and, even more in the Covid education world. Grades can often not be trusted as an indicator of progress or performance. There are multiple reasons for this when it occurs. Grade escalation is a real phenomenon. In other words, grades do not always indicate mastery. Homework is often done online with the students able to do and submit the homework multiple times. This approach often does not lead to mastery and often does lead to lack of retention. Learning is often not occurring.

The short answer is that it is exceedingly difficult to get students to strive for mastery if it is not required as part of the curriculum. I have worked with students who are willing to do what it takes. One approach is to get a hard copy math book as most schools do not have such books. Then, the student needs to basically self-teach themselves from the book. There are generally good lessons in books with lots of problems to practice. I work with students consistently where I implement this approach. Let’s talk more about this.

I do want to emphasize that this is a situation when my connection with students is critical. A lot of trust is required for students to change the path they are on.

Help! My daughter needs to take a qualification exam to get into Harvard in a month. She has let the prep class fall way behind. You come very highly recommended because of your breadth and depth and ability to connect with your students. This may sound like a far out request, but it is past the point of doing online tutoring. We need and would be willing to pay for expenses for you to come to us for a minimum of 4-5 hours a week for 4 weeks. Is this something that you could even reasonably do?2020-07-29T20:28:43+00:00

Thank you for reaching out—this is a fantastic question! It ties in DIRECTLY with my business model. I started supporting students remotely, mid-2019, before Covid. I can accomplish what I want to with this business living pretty much wherever I want to.

I admire you and your daughter for determining that you will do whatever it takes. This is something we would need to discuss at length, of course. If we were to move forward on this, I would need to spend a fair amount of time constructing a plan of tasks and expectations, as well as a level of assessing.

Theoretically, YES, I would love the challenge. Please contact me ASAP to begin the discussion and planning phase. It sounds like your daughter is a very special student and person and I would easily be able to support other students remotely as well and meet my primary commitments to your family.

How do I keep my student from getting behind and getting into a situation where recovery is needed?2020-07-29T20:31:50+00:00

The good news with this question is that you are thinking about it PROACTIVELY. Ultimately, avoiding the need for academic recovery is effectively asking the question “How does a student truly master their material?”

Your student has to hit the ground running at the beginning of the semester. They should have begun to take a look at the material to be covered before school starts. I work with a number of students BEFORE the semester begins.

There is a plethora of internet resources available to get a head start. Get on my mailing list (scroll down to the bottom of the page to sign up) and request a time for us to chat. Knowing the specifics of your situation will help me find the prime area to focus on. Generally, students suffer from one or more of the following: 1) not really knowing how to do research, 2) not having a high bar to reach for, 3) lack of consistent habits, 4) not knowing how or when to take effective notes, 5) motivation, 6) poor foundational skills, and others.

I am the curriculum development lead for a new charter school. Math and Science are my weak areas. I have a strong math instructor and Physics instructor but don’t know quite how to pull this all together. I am tempted to rely heavily on off-the-shelf products to get us started. Do you feel you can help us?2020-07-29T20:33:58+00:00

Thank you for reaching out! As you well understand, you are at a critical point. I would love to work with you on this.

I sometimes observe emphasis placed on the wrong priorities. For example, it seems, that there always seems to be a need to purchase another new online homework suite, or iPads or other technology, when the main priorities do not get the appropriate level of attention. In my mind, retention and lack of mastery may be the top priorities and problems areas in secondary education. Schools that construct curricula where the students have adequate homework, appropriate difficulty level of homework, and a learning model that is repetitively reinforcing material from a comprehensive point of view, have students that are the most successful in terms of acquisition of mastery.

I am new math teacher. I have an undergrad degree in math. However, I feel challenged with tying concepts together for my algebra students. Can you help me?2020-07-29T22:48:29+00:00

First off, congratulations for being a teacher! I would love to help you. I would probably work with you to assess where you are in terms of mastery of the material. Then, determine what your goals are, budget, and overall plan. I love working with teachers!

I am looking for help putting a PLAN together to help my daughter prepare for, and get,a minimum a 4 on her AP Calc AB and BC. She has a good teacher, but I need you to work with her teacher to accomplish this. Can you help? How would you do this? How would you charge for this?2020-07-29T22:52:33+00:00

Definitely contact me (click on this link or use the form below)! High-end STEM subjects, especially calculus and above, are my specialties. You are hitting the nail on the head in terms of the need for a plan. If the student is serious, that PLAN needs to start no later than early December. It is also very dependent on the mechanics of the AP class. Some classes and teachers are very well prepared and execute well in terms of prepping students for the test. Sometimes, that situation is not optimal. This what we need to assess and deal with together.

If the teaching of the AP test is NOT matching the skills needed for the test, then the teacher is the first place to start. AP is my specialty. We can put a plan together to fill in those gaps.

Do you do group tutoring sessions? How many students do you take in a group?2020-07-29T22:57:12+00:00

For SAT/ACT prep I rarely, if ever, take more than eight students. An exception is when I work with schools to do prep in a classroom environment. I feel that any more is a disservice to the students. For specific classes, the number of the students is lower. Doing groups sessions usually requires the students to be “close enough” in their capabilities.

As a mentor, I am also a resource manager, pointing the students in the direction of already existing resources when they exist. One source that I recommend is Khan Academy to help with SAT practice. A source of general practice I recommend is PurpleMath.

My son is going to Harvard. He needs help desperately with his Calculus class. Can you help? How would you do that?2020-07-29T22:58:27+00:00

I provide remote tutoring support, especially on high-end topics such as calculus. I utilize easy-to-use teleconferencing software (oftentimes Zoom) and a drawing pad on my end where we work problems and communicate in a two-way fashion.

I am confused. How do we decide whether to focus on the SAT or ACT?2020-07-29T23:01:16+00:00

Great question! The world of standardized tests is a moving target. Visit my SAT/ACT page for information on this topic. Generally speaking, much of this decision is based on the schools that the student wants to attend. Note that the SAT and the ACT are different tests, testing somewhat different versions of the material. The ACT even has a section (Science) that is not on the SAT.

How is the PSAT different from the SAT? How important is the PSAT?2020-07-29T23:04:21+00:00

This is a fairly detailed question and topic. Yes, there are differences. Refer to the following link for a description of the differences—SAT Prep/ACT Prep. The CollegeBoard page explain more. Drop me a line and let’s chat.

My son wants to go into the Marines. He is not the best test taker and did not do well in school. Can you help with the ASVAB?2020-07-29T23:05:13+00:00

Yes, I can help with parts of the ASVAB. Please reach out to me using the contact form below or on the Contact page.

My son is a high performer. He got a 1400 on his last SAT. We have not had success with other tutors improving on that score. He needs to get to 1500. Is that possible? What would you do to help us?2020-07-29T23:07:14+00:00

One size does not fit all when it comes to standardized tests, especially as it relates to the “current level” that a student is at. Practicing sample problems helps, but is NOT the only or even most efficient approach to gain results at high levels. The approach taken would be something determined when we would meet.

Oftentimes, in order to get every last ounce out of a score, the student needs to go back and be directed to restudy core topics. Sometimes, it will also include ensuring that the student has seen generally all the most-often-experienced problems.

My daughter does very well on her homework, however does poorly on tests. She is a poor test taker just like I was. Can you help?2020-07-29T23:08:47+00:00

While not in every case, it is my experience that test taking anxiety is most often the result of lack of preparation. Deep down, students know if they are prepared. Lack of preparation is due to a multiple of reasons — lack of consistent daily study, lack of demonstration of active listening skills in the classroom, and other factors.

Parents MUST also understand the mechanics of how grades are determined. More and more, online products are used for “in class” situations. Most often, homework assignments and questions can be retried and retaken multiple times. While this can augment the learning experience, the majority of the time this results in escalation of homework grades that DO NOT correlate with mastery. As such, this is exposed when tests are taken.

My child has the choice of taking classes online or in the classroom. What is your recommendation?2020-07-29T23:10:43+00:00

This is a complex question (search the blog for an entry on this topic) and one that comes up more often as a result of the Covid situation. The parents and students MUST fully understand the pros and cons of on online education. Online education, in general, requires a high degree of research and self-teaching skills. There are differences in overall technical quality of different online products as well.

What approaches do you engage in with your students? What are your goals for students with whom you work?2020-07-29T23:12:25+00:00

This is a great question! Every student and their goals are different. Some students needs “deep” teaching supplementation of a subject.

As an example, for various reasons, a student is not performing well in the classroom. The student often needs to learn study habits, how to listen in class and other learning and research techniques.

Other students need help prepping for tests. Some students simply need help with homework. Ultimately, it is my goal to instill, develop and improve not only subject matter improvement, but study skill improvements, buttressing students’ self-confidence ultimately to enable the students to operate and learn independently. First and foremost, it all starts with the relationship — not just with students, but with parents as well.

Do you work with adult students?2020-07-29T23:14:01+00:00

Yes, I work with nursing school students on technical topics, as well as with university and community college students. I also work with college age students to prepare for assessments, GEDs, GREs, and any subject that I cover, and students heading into the military to prepare for their ASVAB exam.

What exactly do you do during a tutoring session?2020-07-29T23:15:48+00:00

I meet with parents or adult students prior to beginning any sessions. The student’s needs are assessed and a plan is determined. Sometimes the plan is somewhat open-ended when the student needs consistent followup for topic presentation in class. A growing number of students need “recovery” tutoring.

I want to emphasize that for there to be changes to outcomes, changes to habits MUST occur when the student is at home. Otherwise, anything that I do with a student will have diminished impact. When I meet with the student, I need the student prepared in terms of their study material. The student needs to come to our sessions with a clear and defined list of issues, concerns, or questions. Generally, unless agreed to as part of our overall plan, my sessions are not meant to teach the student the material from scratch that is being presented in class when the student chooses to not be engaged in class.

Do you just take students who are high performers?2020-07-29T23:16:52+00:00

Absolutely not. Mastery is inherently my goal for all of my students. Mastery looks different for every student. All will achieve different levels of mastery. It is no secret that there are many students “in need.” A major part of what I do, in person and through this site, is to provide various levels of “resource support” depending on whether you are a client or not.

What do you charge? How do you charge?2020-07-29T23:18:10+00:00

Rates are dependent upon the service provided and the subject matter. Please refer to the Services page for the various service options. One-on-one tutoring is often billed on an hourly rate. Certain circumstances make being on an monthly retainer more desirable for all involved. For answers specific to your situation, please send me a message through the contact form below or on my Contact page.

What is your background and experience?2020-07-29T23:19:33+00:00

For more details, please visit the About Us and About Joe pages. I have been involved in technology development for 30 years—as an engineer, mentor, tutor and trainer. My engineering experience was in a myriad of leadership positions. I worked for five years with emotionally disturbed children in an institutional setting and I currently work with both individual students and student groups. During my technical software career, I was always engaged in training and development of my teams in one form or another.

My wife and I are trying to decide whether or not our student should go to a private or public school. How do we decide?2020-07-29T23:32:46+00:00

This is a question I receive from a growing number of parents. First and foremost, this is mainly an issue of collecting data for you. But, additionally, regardless of the school choice, your student, if in a more challenging environment, needs to be able to handle the challenges.

Do NOT rely solely on comparative school rankings to make this kind of decision. School rankings can be misleading. When schools are ranked primarily based on grades, grade escalation may be an issue to consider or be aware of. Higher comparative grades do not always correlate with successful environments. Ask (strenuously, if possible) to observe classes. Speak with other parents to determine how the teachers interact with the students. Determine the level of automation that goes on in the classroom. Some online environments are devoid of challenge, perhaps surprisingly.

Let’s talk more soon and more directly on this issue.

What are your educational credentials?2020-07-29T23:34:19+00:00

I have an undergrad degree in Computer Science with minor in Mathematics from Cleveland State University after initially attending the University of Dayton. I have a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, in optics and electromagnetics.

As a freshman undergrad in the math department at the University of Dayton, I began my studies in the Sophomore Honors program as a freshman, due in large part to the math program at my high school, Cleveland St. Joseph. As a freshman, I scored the highest of all undergrad math majors on the 1st Actuarial Exam administered by the Society of Actuaries. I have always loved and been motivated by math and science topics and classes. Physics, Chemistry, and higher-level mathematics are my specialty.

I have worked with students studying for some of the actuarial exams administered by the Society of Actuaries.

Please visit the About Joe page for more details.

Tutoring rates can vary widely. Most emphasize how proficient a tutor is in different subject matter areas. What do you bring to the table that others might not? Thank you for that question. As a parent, that is exactly what you should be asking. Yes, when it comes to subject matter expertise, I am particularly skilled in my craft. Academic capability is not sufficient however in order to teach and instill all the skills necessary for student mastery.2020-07-29T23:37:29+00:00

I invite you to visit the Student Testimonials page. Relationship development is indispensable for a trusting outcome. No level of success is possible without a strong relationship built with my students and parents.

There is no single set pattern as to how to build relationships. You as a parent know this. I would say though that the development of trust is critical with my students. The last thing they need are just academic lectures. I have found students need to be listened to and believed in. My students need my trust in them. I need them to trust in my requests as to how to study, learn, practice and thus believe in me.

I am different because I do know my subject matter well enough to know how, as well as why the students are not making connections with the material. That is probably my biggest academic strength is to quickly assess what is missing in the classroom or with the student’s attention, actions, study skills or to what degree they are willing to apply themselves.

But, none of the matters if I do not connect with my students.

What is Academic Recovery?2020-07-29T23:39:59+00:00

Academic recovery describes the condition where students are behind their grade level or where they feel they should be academically. Usually this is meant to describe the condition where a student has fallen behind but can recover quickly. It can also mean the condition where a student is behind grade level by one or more years.

There are a growing number of online resources to help students that I recommend—two of my favorites are Khan Academy and PurpleMath.

My student’s high school does not offer AP Statistics. Having proficiency in this would greatly improve her chances for advanced college degrees. What do we do?2020-07-29T23:41:50+00:00

I would first speak with the teacher in your child’s school that teaches any of the math or science AP classes for their thoughts. Talk to other parents who have students at other schools that might have the class. See if your student can somehow take that class there. This might actually be more possible if the class is being taught remotely.

Your student does not have to have academic credit at the high school to take the test. Let’s chat to see if we can find a number of students that I could teach the subject to—there is always a solution!

How will the new AP test format (shortened test for 2020 and perhaps longer), and taking it at home, affect the whole AP class/test approach?2020-07-29T23:43:37+00:00

Watch this website for announcements. Also, sign up for my newsletter. Watch for information from the College Board. This is a moving target situation. The 2020 AP test experience had a number of issues that hopefully the College Board will have addressed for the 2021 year and going forward.

My student wants to take the basic chemistry class in high school. She wants to get the best grades possible. As her parent, I see how the AP version of the class could help her develop her independent learning skills but I have heard that it is very difficult We want to maintain a very high GPA for her. What should we do?2020-07-29T23:45:12+00:00

As with any learning protocol, if the student is not committed to doing the required work and sees the value of the additional work, it is unlikely that forcing the student will result in a positive outcome. An AP class will most certainly teach a student how to think outside of the box. With an experienced AP teacher, students often experience a level of confidence they never would have experienced before.

I hear AP classes can be very challenging? Is it worth it?2020-07-29T23:46:59+00:00

AP classes are not for everyone, but we do believe they are appropriate and of value to more than just the best students. The content in the AP exams is almost universally more challenging than the regular high school tracks, but if taught with an eye towards the AP exam, the student will almost certainly improve their ability to think more creatively, to think “out of the box” and will greatly improve their ability to achieve mastery and self-confidence.

What about schools now not requiring ACT/SAT tests. Can they still be of value?2020-07-29T23:48:56+00:00

This is a good question. These exams act as a high quality comprehensive exam for much of what students should master in high school. Unfortunately, final exams don’t always accomplish this in their respective classes. I personally think it is of value as it can show a student’s desire for mastery for the sake of mastery.