Cynthia Lopez, Math Tutoring

We are interviewing Cynthia Lopez, a successful tutor and passionate about education. She has had a multifaceted professional life, always in search of what makes her happy and allows her to contribute to the formation of future generations in gratitude for the training and education that she received.

Her focus is to work on what she is passionate about and makes you happy. Obviously, remuneration is needed because like all beings we have economic responsibilities but her focus is on the contribution to forging and educating future generations.
She is a teacher at a local school and also tutors students one on one.

1. Can you tell me some details about your education and experience with teaching this subject matter?

Math was my favorite in school. As an adolescent, I enjoyed solving math problems that I took from books that my father had in his study room. However, I never studied to be a math teacher. I studied Microbiology and Economics, although mathematics continued to be my passion. One day I saw on the news that there was a shortage of Math Teachers in Miami Dade County Schools. They announced that they were looking for teachers. This caught my attention, I applied and within a few months, I was already in a classroom as a math teacher. I went back to college and got a Master in Math Education. I felt that I had found the true calling.

2. What are some of your favorite strategies for teaching materials to students?

I like to show students how much they already know about math. How do I do it? motivating them to participate through games and questions during the class session. I am always open to questions, corrections, and different methods to solve the same problem. 

3. What would you do if you had a student who has simply given up, believing they’re a failure?

Self-esteem plays a very important role in math learning. Proving students that they know more than what they think they do will help them do better. People are always comparing themselves with others, instead of looking into how much they do know. Everyone is different and learns and reasons in different ways. My job is to let them discover how much information they already have.

4. What is your preferred environment to be in when you’re tutoring a student? 

I will rather be in a quiet environment where there are no distractions, and communication flows. In these last two years, we were forced to teach online due to the pandemic. Online tutoring works great for me, my students, and their parents. Students are able to focus on the lesson because they feel comfortable at home, parents can monitor what is going on in the session without disrupting class, and I as a teacher do not have to drive around from house to house.

5. How do you manage to have more than one student to work with long-term? What do you do to ensure you give each student adequate time?. Have you ever conducted group tutoring sessions? If so, what was your experience like and how did you make sure that each student learned?

About 50% of my students are long-term. A few start tutoring with me when they are in elementary and continue up to graduating from high school. As I said before, I only tutor one-on-one, I make sure that I give each student adequate time.

Before starting to give my services to a student, and depending on the objective, I do an evaluation to see his/her weaknesses in Math. Based on the results, together with the parents, we decide the class schedule, how many one-hour sessions per week. 

Through student’s performance in school and our continuous evaluation, we could reduce or increase the number of sessions per week..

Have you ever conducted group tutoring sessions? If so, what was your experience like and how did you make sure that each student learned?

The tutoring sessions I offer are One-on-One in order to give each student absolute attention. 

7. Can you tell me about a time you were just as confused with a student’s homework as they were? How did you handle the situation?

When this happens, I ask the student to explain his/her work to me, because I do not get it and I would like to be able to give him/her a good grade. The key here is to do so in a non-threatening manner for them to feel at ease, and safe. From the student’s answer, I pivot into explaining the right answer. You will be surprised about the answers I get sometimes.

8. What do you do ahead of each tutoring session to ensure you have a productive lesson with your students?

Every case is different since it all depends on the reason why I was hired as a tutor. Before every session, I prepare accordingly whether it is to prepare the student for a college entrance exam, or for the EOC, or to assist with the understanding of daily lessons. I like to prepare myself for each case by reviewing, or accessing practice tests, sometimes I get a hold of the student’s teacher to find out how behind he/she is.

  9. Do you have experience tutoring a student online? If so, how did you adjust your sessions to help them learn in a way they could understand?

Yes, I do have experience tutoring students online. 

It was not easy to get used to teaching online. It was difficult at first. Everything new scares us until we realize that what happens is convenient.

I had a lot of studying to do if I wanted to succeed. I discovered and learned to use online applications. Purchased teaching tools I did not know existed. However, I also learned that just like in face-to-face classes, if you don’t get the student’s attention when you’re online, you will not accomplish much. A fellow teacher once told me that he preferred to give face-to-face classes because the student had nowhere to go and was forced to pay attention. What he did not know was that the student may be there physically but not be there mentally, and spiritually. All human beings have the ability to close in on themselves if they want to.

I also change the class format by transforming it into a fully interactive class, full of questions and answers, videos, games, and incentives for students to participate. The lessons had to be short, followed by practice exercises.

10. What tactics do you use to motivate unenthusiastic learners? Which have you found to be the most effective in cultivating student interest in a subject?

When a student is unmotivated, I stick to teaching them videos where I show them the relevance of the material in everyday life. I also do game therapy that allow the student to learn while playing.
The most effective in cultivating student interest in a subject is that of understanding how math is relevant in today’s world.

11. Do you feel comfortable consulting with the student’s teacher to gain more insights into areas for improvement? How has your communication been with students in the past?

I do feel comfortable consulting with the student’s teacher to gain more insights into areas for improvement. In a few instances, parents are promoters of the communication between their child’s Math teacher in school and me. The team formed by the teacher and the tutor renders academic benefits to the student.

12. What do you believe are some important soft skills that you can teach to your students in addition to the specific subject matter?

Teaching soft skills is more important now than ever before. Hiring managers are on the look for them when interviewing people for jobs. They have been reporting the lack of these skills in recent graduates. Studies show that a great percentage of long-term job success depends on people skills rather than on skills. Employees should be able to connect with colleagues or/and customers. Soft skills are now more important than ever.

Soft skills that can be taught in the classroom are Teamwork skills that include interactive, interpersonal, problem-solving, and communication skills. These will be skills used when working with a group of people towards a common task. As a teacher, I promote the improvement of those skills by creating assignments that involve collaboration.

Professionals around the world are expected to arrive on time, be prepared, dress for success, use proper spelling and punctuation, etc. When I demand professionalism in everything they do, I am raising expectations that assure success in the workplace.

Good communication skills, respect for others, take responsibility for their results when completing a project, take time to reflect. 

  • What are your greatest strengths?

      My greatest strength is my many years of working as a teacher. Through all these years of teaching, I have become aware of the different ways, different kids learn. This awareness has made me a very patient human being. Other strengths are enthusiasm for what I do, dedication, and honesty. 

  • Do you prefer online or in-person tutoring?

Students learn the same in both ways. After all, it is about how much discipline they have and how involved parents are in their progress.

It favors me to give online tutorials because it makes me more comfortable to work from the comfort of my home.

  • How long have you been a tutor?

I have tutored math since high school. I have always like this subject. It was the easiest for me. My fellow students were always asking me to explain the material to them. I always enjoyed helping them

  • What are your tutoring specialties?

   Algebra, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, College entry Exams prep. 

  • What did you study in college? 

    I studied Microbiology, Economics, and Math (Master on Math Education)

  • How does your educational background help you be a better tutor?

   My educational background gave me the knowledge, and discipline needed to 

   be a good tutor.

  • What are your three most important skills for tutoring?

    Knowledge, versatility in teaching, patience

  • How do you measure a student’s progress?

    By their progress in school.

  • What grade levels are you most experienced with tutoring?

    9th to 12th grade

  • What is your tutoring philosophy?

We all have the ability to learn and understand math. Some of us achieve it faster because it is a subject that we like, others find it a little more difficult, but with the help of a good teacher, we can all achieve success.

A good teacher needs not only a broad knowledge of the subject being taught, and a study plan. He/She also needs to be enthusiastic, loving and empathetic but also firm and respectful, responsible, flexible, and communicative.

  • Do you have experience in other roles or industries that you apply to tutor?

    Life Coaching 

  • As a Math teacher, I have learned skills that I later apply to my role as a tutor. I have learned to identify the students’ weaknesses on specific Math subjects just by asking specific questions.

   To understand the student it is important to listen and observe him/her, as a  life coach I learned techniques that are very useful to achieve the necessary empathy to get to know the student better.

  • What kind of results have you seen with previous students?

  Through my work with my students, many times I have managed to make them see mathematics without fear and overcome the idea that they are not capable or intelligent enough to understand it. 

  • What was your greatest tutoring challenge? How did you overcome it?

    Precisely that of breaking the stigma that only intelligent children are capable of obtaining the best grades in Mathematics.

I overcome it by transmitting my enthusiasm for what I do. This motivates them to learn and know. An enthusiasm capable of reaching the student and awakening their curiosity about their surroundings.

I do not hide from them the fact that even though I am the teacher, sometimes no matter how hard I try, I may not be infallible, just as anyone, I can make mistakes. Being able to recognize them, admit them and apologize is a quality that will always play in favor of the teacher, increasing the confidence of the students in him/her, since they will see him for what he is, a human being.

I respect myself as much as I respect my students and their parents. If there is something that teachers must take into account, it is that they are role models for each of the students, who constantly observe them how they act, how they speak, how they move, respond or dress.

  • How do you tell whether a student understands a lesson?

   By the look on his/her face, I can tell when they get it. To me, that is a very 

   exciting moment.

  • A student is upset with their lack of progress. How do you react?

              When this happens, my objective is to understand where is he/she getting

               that idea from. I do it by asking the student why he/she thinks that. I

               Inquire about grades in school, I go over the material learned and asks 

               Specific questions regarding subjects learned in class. Sometimes it is just

               An impression or insecurity the student has, but others, it is a fact that the 

           student is showing no progress at all.         

               If there has been progress, I show it to the student, if there has not been any, 

               We talk about studying habits and discipline. My role as a tutor is not only to 

               Teach Math, I am also there to support them in believing in themselves and

                make them understand that after I do my part, they have to do theirs, and 

                Studying is one of them.

  • How do you approach reviewing content with students?

    I approach reviewing through games, questions, and answers, contests. Fun 

     Motivates them to show me how much they know.

  • How do you reward a student who is doing well?

   I reward them by praising them.

  • When you meet a new student, how do you make them feel comfortable and engaged with the lesson?

     I introduce myself and tell them about my experiences with Math, I ask for theirs, we laugh a little and then get into matters. This conversation is relaxing.

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