Posted in Online Tutoring, Resources, Tips for Parents, Tips for Students

The Best Online Tutoring Services Of 2018

Like many services and industries, tutoring is moving more online as people become more comfortable and familiar with digital communication and are able to appreciate the accessibility and selection of online tutoring.  One result of this is that the online tutoring industry has exploded, to the point where the sheer proliferation of services can be overwhelming.

That’s why I’m so glad that our friends at Reviews.com have created a guide to the best online tutoring services of 2018.  They have thoroughly researched the top platforms and written up a detailed report with their findings, but that’s just the start.  Their report goes on to explain what students should know before enrolling in online tutoring, the best practices for ensuring a positive tutoring experience, and much more.  The whole thing is chock full of incredibly valuable information and actionable tips for students and their families who are seeking help through online tutoring, and the best part is, it’s absolutely FREE!

Check it out here: The Best Online Tutoring Services Of 2018

Posted in Resources, Tips for Parents, Tips for Students

The Best Scholarship Search Platforms of 2018

With the rising costs of college education, scholarships are more important than ever for students and families who want to maximize the value they receive while minimizing their costs.  But there are so many scholarship options that the task of finding and applying for the best ones can be a daunting hurdle.  Of course, the solution is to use a scholarship search platform to help cut through the clutter.  The only problem with that is that scholarship search platforms themselves have proliferated as well, to the point where it’s hard to even make a decision about which platform to use!

That’s why I’m so glad that our friends at Reviews.com have created a guide to the best scholarship search platforms of 2018.  They have thoroughly researched the top platforms and written up a detailed report with their findings, but that’s just the start.  Their report goes on to explain what students need to know before they apply for a scholarship, a step by step guide on how to apply, and more.  The whole thing is chock full of incredibly valuable information and actionable tips for college bound students and their families, and the best part is, it’s absolutely FREE!

Check it out here: The Best Scholarship Search Platforms Of 2018

Posted in Tips for Students

How To Deal With Test Anxiety

Often it is the most sensitive and talented students who are affected the most by test anxiety.  Students who would ordinarily be top performers fall apart under the pressure of testing conditions.  Why?

This is a phenomenon discussed in some detail in Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. He actually identifies two different types of response to pressure. In one profile, a person performs meticulously when the pressure is not on, then breaks down and performs poorly under pressure. In the other profile, a person performs lazily and sloppily when there is no pressure, then buckles down and performs nearly flawlessly when the stakes are high. The author used the example of a story about a man who was the world’s best golfer, as long as he was leisurely putting on the green, but if he ever competed in a tournament he would always come in last.

What causes the breakdown of performance, according to Maxwell Maltz, is an overabundance of self-correction. The remedy would be to find ways to take the pressure off internally, which consists of visualizing a positive outcome while becoming unattached to what actually happens. In other words, you have to find ways to convince yourself, or at least temporarily suspend your disbelief, that you will be successful AND that there is no danger or harm in making mistakes.

Posted in Teaching & Learning, Tips for Students

How To Learn Math (Or Anything Else) Faster

I always say it’s better to play keep-up than catch-up, which means staying a little ahead of the progression of concepts in a class, rather than a little (or a lot) behind.  This means that you have to proceed at the rate the class progresses.  But what can you do if you feel like a class is progressing faster than your ability keep up?

Logically, there are only three things you can do to increase your rate of learning:

  1. Spend more time studying than you already do. If you are currently spending two hours per day, spend three, for example. Note that this approach has diminishing returns.
  2. Improve your process by learning how to study more efficiently. This requires that you invest time in learning how to learn faster. There are various resources and approaches for this, such as Scott Young’s Ultralearning.
  3. Hire a guide. Working with a tutor can increase the overall rate at which you learn by roughly a factor of three while reducing the stress you experience, and a tutor who is also a good academic coach will help you improve your process so that you can learn more efficiently on your own as well.
Posted in Math, Teaching & Learning, Tips for Students

How To Learn Math (Or Anything Else)

As the title of this post indicates, the process I am about to describe is actually the natural learning process for anything, not just math.

First, Get Curious

Learning has to start with curiosity. You can be curious about math as a means to an end (say, if you want to be a financial analyst or engineer, for example), or you can be curious about math for its own sake (if you want to be a mathematician, this will probably apply to you).

Remember, curiosity is an emotion, and emotions are generated in part by what we focus on and what we tell ourselves. So, if you want to learn something but don’t have any curiosity about it, generate some! Curiosity is the glue that makes new knowledge stick.

Explore

Once you get started, let your curiosity lead you into new and interesting territory. Venture forth into the material with an agenda of pure discovery. Let this be an open-ended, non-directive process, with no particular goal in mind, the same way that you would read a novel or watch a movie.

Think of the last new movie that you saw. Can you remember the setting? The plot? The characters? Were you trying to memorize any of those things? That should be proof enough to you that this method works.

Practice

In math, practice could take the form of performing calculations, solving problems, or writing proofs. In other subjects, it could take the form of answering practice questions or re-communicating what you have learned, either by writing or speaking. It is a Law of Learning that the harder you work for a particular piece of knowledge the better you will retain it, so don’t shirk on effort here. Just like with working out, the more you sweat, the more you get!

Get Help

Once you have put in sufficient practice, you are in an ideal position to ask for and receive help. Asking for help from a teacher, tutor, or mentor at this point will help you fill in any gaps that you have identified in your understanding, uncover any blind spots you may have and improve your process. This is how you go from proficient to efficient. Having first put in the effort to understand the material yourself will prepare you to appreciate and receive what is being offered.

Posted in Books, Educational Reform, Teaching & Learning, Tips for Students, Tips for Teachers

The Role of Neural Associations in Learning

Excerpted from Triggers, by Stanley Mann:

“Multisensory imagination is the world’s finest teaching machine, and we all possess it.  We simply need to learn how to use it.”

I just came across this great quote in a book I’m reading. The book is about using triggers, or neural associations, to direct one’s attention in constructive ways. The quote comes from a chapter on using triggers to enhance learning ability. It resonates with me on a number of levels.

First of all, the idea of multisensory imagination is a little-known but extremely powerful learning enhancement tool, and is the sort of thing that we should be teaching kids about in school instead of pumping them full of facts and figures. To truly learn anything you have to make it real in your mind, fully engaging with it in your imagination with as many sensory channels as possible; both sight and sound at the very least, and ideally touch, smell, and taste if possible. Conversely, teaching can’t work unless it engages the imagination and the emotions through multiple sensory channels. Educators and curriculum designers need to be mindful of this principle in order to be effective.

Secondly, triggers in general, and learning triggers in particular, rely on the principle of association. Our brains are constantly making associations among various environments, stimuli, and emotional states based on our experience. Neurons that fire together wire together, so when two experiences are repeatedly juxtaposed, they tend to become linked. This means that to optimize your learning process, you need to create a positive physical and mental learning environment for yourself, so that you are comfortable and feeling good while you are learning. Conversely, if the learning environment is physically or mentally uncomfortable, such as by feeling coercive and emotionally unsafe, then the negative feelings it evokes will come to be associated with the process of learning itself, causing them to be re-experienced whenever future learning endeavors are undertaken. This is another principle of human psychology that educators and legislators need to take heed of.

Posted in Inspiration, Tips for Parents, Tips for Students

Catch Up or Keep Up?

Something that I often find myself reminding students and parents alike is that “it’s easier to play keep up than catch up”. In other words, it requires less time, energy, and attention to stay current with your responsibilities than it does to get caught up when you are behind.

What it really comes down to is being proactive. Playing keep up means being proactive in your life, which corresponds to ease and and a positive sense of control. Playing catch-up means being reactive, which corresponds to feelings of helplessness and overwhelm.

If you’re a student, whether you’re constantly working a week ahead of your classes or a week behind, you have to maintain the same pace, but one position gives rise to a lot more stress than the other!

This is also why I counsel parents to have a conversation with their kids at the beginning of each semester where they look at their upcoming classes and consider whether the student is likely to need the help of a tutor in any of them, and be proactive about the hiring decision, rather than waiting until the student is struggling and lost before taking action.

Is “playing keep up, rather than catch up” something that you can relate to from your own experience? If so, let me know how in the comments!