After ten years of classroom teaching, private tutoring, developing curricula, writing about education, leading discussions among students, and college advising on our own, we founded Central Park Tutors when we realized that there was room for a firm of teachers in NYC that was truly dedicated to the art of teaching, instead of companies that tried to fit everyone into a cookie-cutter or simply filled their rosters with people who sound impressive but don’t know how to teach. What are the principles behind the art of teaching? Well, here are a few:
Students learn best in small amounts.
Overwhelming students with information gets them nowhere. A new weightlifter doesn’t start with 300 pounds. The weightlifter slowly works his way up to large amounts as he becomes accustomed to lifting weights. So it is in life, so should it be in education.
When students are avoiding work, it's usually because they don't understand it.
It's not because they're lazy. Helping students understand their work is the best answer to motivation problems. Doing work well feels good; and everyone wants to feel good.
Students learn best when problem solving is modeled and broken down into sequential steps.
Studies show that when students do something new, the brain is overloaded with activity. Modeling the problem solving sequence gives them a guide to managing the overload until they become accustomed to the activity.
The key to doing well on standardized tests is learning the material, not just tricks around it.
Every major standardized test offered today actually tests basic math, grammar and reading comprehension skills. This is a good thing. We need those skills to thrive in society. We should teach them to the people we care about.
When teachers teach well, students enjoy it.
If our students aren't enjoying the help, we're doing something wrong. We'll figure it out and we'll change it. Good teaching is a dialogue process. It involves listening as much as talking. Learning from our students about their difficulties is the key to teaching well.
For some it comes easily; for others, it takes time. If students have not yet reached their goals, it is our job as teachers to figure out how to get them there. Rah rah speeches are great, but our dedication to our students, always showing up, always seeking new ways to explain material, always doing the extra work that it takes to unlock their interests - that is the most effective way to inspire them.
Being Bored Is Not On The Table
It is up to the teacher to discover what is truly interesting to their students and to build material around this interest whenever possible. Finding material that authentically engages students is the key to turning students on to learning the skills required in school and in life.
Success is Easy, Struggling is Hard
Building the right mindsets among our students is enormously helpful, and the beginning of that mindset is teaching students the practices and habits that make up the baseline of academic success - organization, dedication and follow through. With these skills modeled and practiced, students learn that being successful academically is EASIER than struggling, and allows for far more free time!
Interests Are Gold
If students are bored or avoiding work, they may not be interested in it. And if students aren't interested in the doing their work, they won't learn the underlying academic skills that allow them to grow. Great teachers should listen for what captivates students interest, and build work around those interests so that students can build their academic muscles.
The Right Mindset Incorporates Growth
It's crucial to remember that setbacks in academic situations are actually incredible moments to grow and learn. While the disappointment of not achieving everything you might have hoped for on a test or paper can be difficult to overcome, we're here to help remind you that every setback is a growth spurt in disguise. If we were born knowing everything, all the wonder of learning would be gone. Learning is a journey...