As an AP® Calculus teacher, Meryl saw students struggle in math for the first time. She became an AP® Calculus tutor to help those students realize they can excel in the subject. She provides tips for hiring the best Calculus tutor for you.
My heart raced and my foot anxiously tapped the ground as I waited for the web browser to load.
You’ve been there, with the circle spinning for what seems like an eternity.
It was June of 2015 and I was eagerly awaiting my students’ results from the AP® Calculus BC exam.
Starting as a Calculus Teacher
It was my first year teaching AP® Calculus, but not only that, it is was my first full year teaching in a K-12 setting.
On top of the typical novice teacher concerns about classroom management, building rapport with students and parents, and simply being a good teacher, I worried I didn’t know Calculus well enough. What if a student asked a question I didn’t know the answer to? What if I couldn’t explain abstract concepts simply enough for them to understand?
My small class of 14 AP® Calculus BC students worked hard and we learned together.
I recognized the importance of instructing concepts from multiple perspectives, using graphs, tables, and equations to reach students.
They quickly realized the vigor of the AP® Calculus curriculum. To truly excel in the course, they had to not only complete homework regularly, but also practice some of the difficult application questions.
I had a pit in my stomach, sensing that some students hadn’t prepared enough for the AP® exam based on in-class exam performance but I was optimistic about a handful of students.
The Roller Coaster of Emotions
The webpage finally loaded. A 15% pass rate. My stomach dropped. The national pass rate was 80% for that exam. Students that I knew should’ve passed the exam didn’t. Was it my fault? Could I have done more to prepare them?
Over the rest of that summer break, I completely revamped my instruction on infinite series. I wasn't confident in my teaching of that topic and my students voiced the same lack of confidence in their own understanding of series.
I also started each lesson with previous AP® released test questions. Students practiced problems of topics we were currently working on, but also cycling back to include topics from earlier in the school year to keep concepts fresh in students' minds.
I knew I had 36 students sign up for Calculus that upcoming year and I was going to try to make more of an impact.
Fast forward to June of 2016 when I watched the same spinning circle, waiting for the same webpage to load the scores. My students’ pass rate was 71%.
Yes, you read that right. From 15% to 71% in one year.
Not that passing this exam was the only metric for success, but I was overwhelmed with joy that so many of my students earned college credit, many of them passing an AP® exam for the first time.
Transforming to an AP Calculus Tutor
Now I am an AP Calculus tutor to provide personalized instruction. I hated standing at the front of the classroom seeing that some students had mastered the content and others were falling behind.
I didn't have enough time to give everyone the one-on-one instruction they needed. If I could make such large gains in classrooms of 20-30 students, I dreamt of the impact I could have helping one student at a time.
In being an AP Calculus tutor, students are able to cover a week’s worth of content in one hour.
Just last month, one of my students had a surgery that left him out of school for over a week. In one hour, we were able to cover an entire unit that used to take me 1.5 weeks (6.5 hours) in the classroom.
In switching from a teacher to tutor, my impact may be on less students, but the results for those students are magnified by efficient use of time and individualization.
In fact, of last year’s AP Calculus students who reported their results in an anonymous survey, 100% of students passed the AP exam: 67% earned a 5, 17% earned a 4, and 16% earned a 3. Additionally, 78% earned an A in class and 22% earned a B.
How to Hire the Best Tutor
I believe telling my story is relevant in knowing the kind of tutor I am. I present content in multiple ways to see what best resonates with students. I build my students’ confidence while also challenging them with rigorous AP® level questions. I constantly have students review concepts from earlier in the year so they have a solid Calculus foundation. Read more tips for how to pass Calculus.
If this is aligned with your goals of tutoring, I could be a great fit for you. If you are only looking for homework help, I may not be the best fit for your child because you can find a cheaper tutor.
The following questions will help guide you to hire the best Calculus tutor for your goals.
What Calculus tutoring rate are you comfortable with? If you can afford it, consider the value in hiring a certified teacher, who is an expert in both Calculus and teaching others. This ensures they know how to tutor Calculus as opposed to someone who just passed the class the previous year or semester.
Ask the potential tutor to explain a concept you've struggled with in class. This will demonstrate his/her teaching style and ability to communicate difficult concepts in a way that you can understand.
Are you looking for homework help or to build a solid foundation of mathematical understanding? Terri discusses three distinct levels of math tutors (and their varying rates): someone who can help with homework, someone who can demonstrate how to solve a problem, and someone who can help you learn to solve the problem yourself.
Does the tutor have a history of student successes in Calculus, as seen in AP® test scores, improved grades, and more confidence?
What do other students say about the tutor in reviews or testimonials?
Do they offer AP® Calculus help online or in person?
Do they provide any support or resources outside of the tutoring session? For example, I've found a lot of students never learned how to study for math tests so I compiled the best resources to study for AP Calculus tests so students can continue to practice Calculus between sessions.
Making a Difference, Differently
Now, instead of being tormented by the spinning circle on the loading webpage to see my students’ AP® scores, I wait for the phone calls and emails from parents about the success of their child.
I know your child can have similar results. Fill out the New Student Form and we can begin tutoring as soon as possible!
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