Interview with Rebecca & FAQ
Please take a moment to read this before hiring Rebecca.
How long have you been doing this and how did you become a math tutor and mentor?
In middle school, I had a math crisis. I was used to being totally academically capable, but many nights I’d actually cry myself to sleep over my math homework.
When I’d ask my teachers for help at school, I didn’t always understand what they said, or why I’d get the wrong answer. Sometimes I just felt this numb despair.
When I moved on to high school, even though I was doing advanced math, I still felt this way on and off, depending on the class and the teacher. Because I couldn’t count on myself to find a way to really “get it,” deep down inside I thought I wasn’t a “math person.”
Fast forward to my first job after college, which was teaching the SAT for Kaplan–both the math and verbal sections. As part of my preparation, I relearned the math that stressed me out when I was growing up.
I knew that I had to understand every single problem backwards and forwards to teach it well. So I really took the material apart and internalized it before I walked in the classroom. When I got up in front of my classes, I was surprised by how much fun I was having teaching–and my students were also really getting it.
I realized that I wanted to work with students one-on-one to grow their skills over a longer period of time, so I started advertising my services as a tutor, fully expecting to specialize in helping kids with their writing, because I still thought of myself as a “writing person.”
But over 90 percent of my students came to me just for math help. In fact, many of them were the exact age I was when I started struggling, and working with the exact same subject matter that I used to cry myself to sleep over. I was able to help these kids master the material, regain their confidence, and really pull up their grades. It finally got to the point where I stopped advertising my services for tutoring any other subject.
Because of this journey, I’ve realized that there is no such thing as a “math person.” Everyone is capable of learning the material, no matter how anxious or discouraged you may feel.
What kind of people do you work with?
I work with kids who want to try their best and are really into the idea of doing tutoring. And I work with parents who are organized, respectful, and focused on supporting the process of learning.
How are you different from other math tutors?
My students experience a completely individualized, totally interactive mentoring process imbued with compassion, trust, fun, and caring.
Everyone can learn to do math. Because each person’s brain is different, I will work with you to find the best way to get math into your brain!
What exactly is your approach and what does it include?
I help my students get math into their brains by using my seven-step “get math into your brain” process:
1. Interactive Questions & Immediate Feedback
I use a series of questions to walk the student through the problem interactively.
These step-by-step questions break down each problem so I can quickly see exactly where the student is confused.
2. Fill in the gaps.
We immediately start to fill in the gaps and learn a new, correct pattern. This process helps students master the material.
3. Learn multiple ways to solve.
I will explain a concept in different ways until we find one that clicks for that individual. Approaching the material in different ways also gives students an opportunity to understand it more deeply.
We do practice problems tailored for the student’s current level of understanding to help them master the material. By practicing and receiving immediate feedback, the student internalizes what to do and the steps become automatic.
We stretch to the next level and stay in the magical sweet spot between anxiety and boredom by doing incrementally more challenging problems.
When possible, we extend even further by introducing concepts that are coming up so the student will feel more confident when they are introduced in class.
We periodically review concepts we’ve already covered to keep them fresh and accessible and connect them to our current work.
All taking place in the context of:
A Positive & Relaxed Atmosphere
Because it’s easier to learn when you’re comfortable! My students describe me as “fun” and “supportive.” I strive to create trust and camaraderie.
I constantly monitor whether or not a student understands what we’re doing and adjust my approach accordingly. I tune into both the student’s work on the page and the student’s verbal and non-verbal communication.
I try to customize as much as possible to each individual student. I will explain a concept in different ways until we find one that clicks for that individual. I also work with each student to find what tools and teaching styles help them the most. Once the student figures out what works, he or she can learn more actively and become a life-long advocate for their own learning style.
Finally, because I use fun, easy-to-use technology to work with my students just like I’m right there with them, I’m able to work with my students no matter where they are in the world.
What is your method for building confidence and reducing math anxiety?
It’s built into every moment of the tutoring process. Many people have math anxiety because they’ve had a bad math experience. I work together with my students to create positive math experiences to replace the negative ones. Once a student realizes that they can be comfortable and relaxed while doing math with a tutor, they realize that they can also feel that way when working through problems on their own.
What kind of people do you not work with?
I’m very selective about who I chose to work with, and I don’t work with parents or students who are whiners, complainers, or blamers. I give a lot to my students, but they have to do the work themselves, and I only work with kids who are willing to take responsibility for their learning. I don’t work with kids who aren’t into tutoring or don’t want to do the work.
I also don’t work with families who are into the drama of intervention (“Let’s do five hours of tutoring this Sunday!”) but not willing to put in the consistent effort necessary for their kid to master the material (“Ok, after the state standards test in April, we’ll take four months off even though my kid has been struggling for months.”).
Finally, if your kid is having trouble in math because of some non-math-related emotional or family issue, it’s best to get appropriate support for that before bringing me on board.
Does this really work?
Yes! The result of our work is an approach to learning math that, over time and with your commitment, works consistently to help you master the material, gain confidence, and pull up your grade. (See client testimonials.)
What kinds of results can I expect?
You can expect to:
Master the material
Increase your confidence
Raise your grades
Uncover exactly what you need to do to solve each type of problem correctly
Finally feel like you really “get” math
Become more relaxed and secure about math
Start to enjoy your math homework (and even tests) – (even if you used to hate it, or haven’t loved it in a long time)
Decrease your math frustration & stress
Increase your problem-solving abilities
Discover how to handle challenging and unfamiliar material
Start to feel like you can do math correctly, in your own way
Increase your ability to trust yourself with math, even when it gets tough
Increase your own intuition & intellectual independence
Step into your own greatness by internalizing challenging material in an enjoyable, relaxed way
Can I hear from some of your former students about what it’s like to work with you?
Absolutely! Please go to my testimonials page and read all of them.
How quickly can I expect to see results?
It may take several sessions before you start to see improvement in your grades as a result of tutoring, but you can expect to feel like you understand things at least a little bit better after the first session.
How long will this take?
Anywhere from six months to a couple of years. Many students who work with me routinely raise their grades from failing to making As and Bs over the course of a semester (so, three to four months). Then after the grades are pulled up, it usually takes a minimum of six months total of working together to fill in all of the gaps that were causing problems. It really depends on how far a student has gotten behind and how much they implement what we do together when they’re working on their own.
When students have more gaps to fill in or are moving through material very quickly in class (or both), the process will take longer. And some students like to continue to receive mentoring after they’re making rock-solid As just because they love having time to go more deeply into math with a caring mentor.
How do I know this is worth the money?
We all know that kids who have mastered math have more options throughout their entire lives in terms of college choices, career options, and earning power. Whatever amount of money you invest in this tutoring program will be a fraction of your kid’s increased future earning power as a result of becoming mathematically confident. And no matter what career your kid eventually chooses to follow, mastering math will set them up to make better financial decisions throughout their lives, long after they’ve finished tutoring.
But when your 13-year-old is crying about their homework, their future career and financial decisions honestly can seem pretty abstract. So even aside from all that, take a minute to ask yourself, what would it be worth it to you to help your son or daughter conquer what may be the most difficult subject in their lives in a way that is enjoyable, intuitive, and authentic to who they are? What would it be worth to turn that fear and doubt into rock-solid conviction in their ability to learn and thrive independently?
For many people who work with me, it’s not so much about math but learning that they can face material that is extremely difficult for them, master it, and come through the other side transformed as a person, thinking, “If I can handle this, I can seriously do anything. I can teach myself difficult material. I can mobilize myself in the face of a scary challenge. I can trust my own thoughts and my own way of learning.” Math just happens to be the vehicle in which they make this journey.
How many times do your students meet with you per week? How long does each session last?
Since each student is different, I offer three different plans, ranging from one to three hours per week.
What are those plans?
The Ultimate Support Program is three 60-minute sessions per week (or two 90-minute sessions per week). This option is for hardworking and determined students who want frequent individualized attention throughout the week in order to catch up and keep up with their math class. With three hours per week, you will receive the customized instruction and immediate feedback you need to rapidly master the prerequisite and current material, regain your confidence, and pull up your grade. Because you have more time with me and more guidance from me, this program is the fastest way to get on track and finally be able to say, “I GET math!”
This plan is appropriate for students who would like to raise their grade by two to three letters, students who are struggling to keep up with a class that is moving more quickly than they are able to absorb the material, or students who are doing tutoring instead of taking a math class.
The Basic Support Program is two 60-minute sessions per week. This is ideal for motivated, organized students who want to be able to check in twice a week. Many students choose this option when they’re still experiencing math anxiety and/or feeling like they don’t understand the material as much as they’d like. During our meetings, you’ll get personalized instruction, answers to your questions, and immediate feedback on your work. You’ll receive the help you need to continually master new material, gain more confidence in your ability to solve problems independently, and raise your grade.
This program is appropriate for students who want to raise their grade by 1 to 2 letters, or highly motivated homeschoolers without a home teacher who are willing to do a lot of work on their own outside of tutoring.
The Mentoring Support Program, with one 60-minute session per week, is ideal for students who are already getting good grades but still want some one-on-one customized attention from someone they trust. In this program, you will become an even more confident and creative problem solver, learn to approach the material in ways that are intuitive to you, and get inspiration from working with a trusted mentor.
This program is for students who are happy with their current grades and just want some support and mentoring. Also appropriate for “graduates” from one of the other programs.
Wait. You can work with a student just like you’re right there with them, no matter where they are in the world? Are you from the future?
Actually, no, I’m not a time traveler! All the technology I use to do this is available right now.
How does it work?
It’s really simple. During tutoring, we talk to each other on the phone or via webcam (webcam is optional). We write on a special tablet that plugs into your computer, and your writing shows up on the computer screen. (I provide the tablet for free to all my students so you don’t have to buy any equipment). And we see each other’s work by using a special whiteboard program that lets us see each other’s writing as it happens. Basically, it’s just like we’re sitting next to each other writing on the same piece of paper, except either of us can be anywhere in the world. You can watch the demo here.
Isn’t setting that up really complicated and stressful?
Actually, no. Setting everything up only takes about ten minutes max, and I give you step-by-step instructions on exactly what to do. Several moms have told me that they just handed the tablet to their 11 or 12-year-old kid and the kid set it up all by themselves, so they didn’t have to worry about it at all!
Plus, doing tutoring this way, you only have to set it up once. From then on out, you can just log on and be ready to go. But if you were traveling to see me, you’d have to spend time driving back and forth every time. Or if I was coming to you, you’d have to worry about picking the house up for a guest each time.
Why did you start doing this?
I just really wanted my students to be able to work with me no matter where they were geographically. A lot of people think about finding a tutor in their neighborhood, but what if the person who is perfect for you, who can help you exactly the way you need to be helped, lives in another state–or just too far away to drive to regularly?
Back in the beginning, when I started my practice in Boston and I was tutoring kids in person, kids would sometimes move away to boarding school before they had really gotten all the help they needed to master the material. And sometimes people would contact me who really wanted to work together, but we just couldn’t find a way to make the logistics work.
Then, when I left Boston to go to graduate school, I had to leave all of my wonderful students. That’s when I started thinking about how to give my students that continuous mentoring experience they needed, without leaving anybody behind.
I really want to work with you, but I have a sinking feeling you don’t live in my town.
No problem! I can work with you wherever you are. (One mom came to me with this exact concern, and then after a month of tutoring, her daughter went from getting an average of 49% on her first three quizzes to making an A on her quarterly exam.)
I think you live in my town. Will you work with me in person?
I no longer tutor students in person.
Why not? Isn’t in-person tutoring better?
For a while, I was tutoring students both in person and using technology, and I found that the vast majority of my clients preferred working with me using technology. Some of my clients weren’t sure that doing tutoring this way would be effective for them, but once they tried it, just about everyone liked it better than the old way.
(One of my clients, Martha Ortiz, did a great job of explaining her experience with the technology in her testimonial. You can also watch Martha and her daughter discussing what it was like to work with me in their video testimonial.)
Once I realized this, I decided I would only tutor students using technology because it was so much easier, convenient, and efficient for them. And they were getting the exact same results as tutoring in person–or even better, because it was such a time saver and so much less stressful in terms of their routine.
When we work together this way, you don’t have to spend time driving. You don’t have to spend time looking for parking, or pay for parking. You don’t have to sit and kill time while your kid is in the tutoring session. That alone is like several hours of your life as a parent reclaimed every single week.
Also, your kid can devote the entire tutoring session to working on math. There’s no time wasted taking off your coat, going to the bathroom, getting a cup of tea, unpacking your materials, getting set up, or doing all of that in reverse at the end of the session. You’re getting the exact same totally customized, warm, compassionate, interactive experience, but without having to go anywhere.
How do I know I can trust you if you’re not from my area and we’ll never meet in person?
Great question. First, before we talk, on my website there are testimonials from other parents and kids who have worked with me, my detailed bio, and an explanation of my tutoring philosophy. If you want even more information, you can sample my teaching style by watching one of my instructional videos, or learn even more about me by reading my learning blog.
Then, if you’re interested in exploring the possibility of working together, we can set up a time to have a get-to-
know-you conversation. We’ll talk about what you’re going through and what you’re looking for, and figure out if it’s a good fit. I’m happy to have this conversation with you via Skype, too, if you’d prefer that to the phone. And if you would like, I can put you in touch with other families who have worked with me.
Finally, if you decide to work together, parents are always welcome to sit in on our tutoring sessions. If you’re worried about your kid being self-conscious with you there, a lot of parents will just set the kid up in the kitchen or some other open family space so they can do their own thing and observe the tutoring session from the background.
I think you’d be a great fit for my kid, but I’m concerned that they won’t be able to connect with you working this way.
If you have specific concerns, I am happy to discuss them with you on the phone. If I don’t think it will be a good fit, I’ll tell you right away. I don’t want to waste your time, and I only work with students who I believe will enjoy the process and get great results from working with me.
I’ve honestly found that the vast majority of my students actually prefer working this way. The only two exceptions have been with a student who was working with an obsolete computer and a totally unreliable internet connection, which caused a lot of stress, and then another student who also didn’t have a reliable internet connection and additionally, at that particular time in her life, was going through some extreme emotional struggles and had a lot of difficulty focusing unless someone was sitting physically right next to her.
If you really don’t have access to a relatively new computer (like less than three years old) and a reliable internet connection, and there’s nothing you can do to fix that, then I’m not going to be the right tutor for you. If your kid is totally freaked out by basic technology, is unable to focus independently, or has a lot of trouble relating to others socially, then I’m probably not going to be the right tutor for you either.
Is this technology compatible for both Macs and PCs?
Yes! Both the digital tablet and the online whiteboard work with both.
Can a student return to what they drew on the whiteboard for future reference?
In the Talkandwrite whiteboard program, students can save their work as a PDF on their computer and then access it whenever they want.
Why is the webcam optional?
Some students love the webcam, and others find it distracting.
Why do I have to use a digital pen tablet?
Math is hard to type, and the tablet makes writing so much easier! Plus, the tablet is provided to you free of charge.
How fast does my internet connection need to be?
Anything that’s not dial-up should be fine. Non-wireless connections are usually faster than wireless. If you only have wireless internet, place your computer next to your wireless hub during the tutoring session for the fastest wireless connection.
When are you available?
Most students have their online math tutoring sessions after school during the week or on the weekend. Email or call me for availability and we can find a time that works for both of us.
Will you work with student’s teachers?
Yes! The best math tutoring happens when the student’s teacher and I work as a team, communicating regularly to make sure the student gets the extra help and practice they need.
Do you give your students homework?
It really depends on the individual student. If a student needs to review prerequisite material that’s not being covered in their math class, doing homework problems that I assign may be the best way for them to master the material.
Do you give an assessment test?
Not usually. My interactive tutoring style enables me to quickly assess what the student’s problems are. This assessment is dynamically built into every moment of the tutoring process.
Do you provide books and workbooks?
No. We use the materials that the student is working on in school as our departure point. Sometimes I will suggest that a student buy a different textbook or workbook if they need extra practice or if they need a better reference for their learning style.
Do you tutor in groups?
No. I only tutor one-on-one. Customization is essential, and it’s just not possible to establish that kind of feedback loop with more than one student at a time.
What learning styles and learning disabilities have you worked with?
I have successfully tutored kinesthetic, auditory, and visual learners, as well as students with dyslexia, spatial disabilities, ADHD, Turner’s, and students with Individualized Learning Plans.
Here are some case studies of students I’ve worked with who have had different learning needs.
Do you have experience working with homeschoolers?
Yes. Here is a case study about one of my home schooled students.
Do you tutor statistics?
What curriculums have you worked with?
I’ve worked with a wide variety of curriculums, ranging from very traditional drill-based curriculums to very concept-based curriculums. I can work with your student to create materials that dovetail both with their school curriculum and their individual learning style. Since new curriculums are developed every year, I am happy to familiarize myself with your curriculum if it is unfamiliar to me. I can also get any textbook.
How do I know which program I belong in?
After we have our get-to-know-you conversation, new clients purchase a three-session package for the evaluation period. During this period, we have three tutoring sessions together so I can evaluate how much support the student will need each week to master the material. This also gives us a chance to get to know each other and make sure it’s a good fit.
Why can’t I just choose the program myself?
My goal is to make sure you receive the support you need to get the results you’re paying for. The evaluation period allows us to be sure you go into the program with the right amount of support–not too much and not too little.
Sometimes the student and their parents have very different perceptions of what’s going on math-wise. Occasionally, a parent wants so badly to help their kid that they think their kid needs more tutoring than is actually necessary. Other times, a parent believes so much in their kid’s ability that they don’t see their kid actually needs much more help than they realize.
I hate the feeling of getting off the phone with a student knowing that they haven’t gotten all of their questions answered, and I know students don’t like that feeling either. I carefully designed this process to make sure my clients get the time they need to master the material and feel confident.
What kind of financial commitment do the programs require?
After the three-session paid evaluation period, clients are required to make a minimum financial commitment to six months (24 weeks) of tutoring. After the first six months, I will decide whether the student should stay in their current program or graduate to a less frequent program. Then the client recommits to another six months.
After the first six months, can I decide to switch into another program without consulting you?
No. Again, it’s extremely important to me that my students receive the support they need to truly master the material. Parents and students cannot unilaterally decide to downgrade to a smaller program.
I really want to work with you, but I am not able to commit financially to the program my kid belongs in. Can we make it work with a smaller program?
If that’s your situation, I completely understand, but I do not accept students into programs that won’t give them the results they need. In this case, I would not be the right person to work with you.
Why do new clients make a financial commitment to six months of tutoring when some clients need more than six months to complete the tutoring process?
Some students improve so quickly in the first six months that they graduate to a less frequent program. This system gives us a chance to check in and reevaluate.
I would like to not do a program and just go week to week or month to month. Will you do that?
No. Learning is a process, and that process takes time. These programs are designed to provide students the support they need in that process and ensure that everyone is committed to that process.
My son/daughter is now making straight As in math, but we still have time left in our program. Can we quit tutoring?
No. While the ultimate goal is for each student to become completely independent, removing support at this point would be like deciding to stop attending football practice because you won the Super Bowl. To continue to see results, students need to continue to practice and train.
What if my son/daughter does poorly on their first test or quiz after you start working with them?
While tests provide crucial information about where the student is in their learning process, doing poorly on one test does not mean that the tutoring process isn’t working. While each student should start to feel at least a little better about the material after our first session, it takes time to fill in all of the gaps. Frequently, by the time a student seeks tutoring, they may have years of math confusion to un-do and re-learn. This doesn’t happen overnight.
That’s why I set an expectation with parents that students can take anywhere from six months to two years to get to a point where they really completely get it and they don’t need any more help. Some students experience improvement in their grades very quickly, and for others, it’s much more gradual. But students who continue to receive tutoring support will, over time and with practice, master the material, increase their confidence, and really raise their grades.
Again, if I feel like it’s not a good fit and I won’t be able to help you, I will let you know immediately. I don’t want to waste your time or your money.
Can I get a refund?
No. The tutoring programs I offer are transformational. I am here to serve you in truly mastering math, becoming massively more confident, and really raising your grades.
If what you see on this website is making you think, yes, I’ve finally found the answer to my prayers! — and you are ready to open your mind and really do the work — then you will love these programs, and they will change your life.
However, if you’re already thinking you might not like it or you’re the type of person who thinks “I want my money back,” then this is not the program for you.
Will you meet with me for just one session?
What are my payment options?
First, new clients purchase a three-session package for the evaluation period. Then, once we know which program you belong in, you have two options: to pay in full up front for the entire six months, or to pay in six convenient monthly installments.
What about the summer?
For students who choose to take time off during the summer, payment is still due on the same schedule outlined above. However many weeks you take off are tacked on to the end of your program as a credit. This way, you receive the exact number of sessions that you pay for.
This sounds great! Based on everything I’ve read and heard about you, I know you’re the one I want to work with. How do I get started?
The first step is to give me a call at 617-888-0160 or email me at email@example.com, and we’ll set up a time to have a “get to know you” conversation. If we decide it’s a good fit, then we’ll set up our first appointment. Let’s get going!