TutaPoint Online Education Blog


Six Questions With…Sarah Wanger

Posted By Meredith Crawford

Get to know your TutaPoint tutors with Six Questions With…a new series of tutor profiles.



Introducing…Sarah Wanger




Tutor Sarah Wanger at TutaPoint




1) When and why did you first become involved with TutaPoint?
I have been tutoring in various places and privately for several years now (since the time I was 14, actually).  I started tutoring on TutaPoint because online tutoring gave me the flexibility to set my own schedule while I worked on my master’s degree.  TutaPoint was (and still is!) particularly appealing because having students in different time zones allows me to make tutoring a full-time job – not just from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. in my timezone.  I am also a bit of a night owl, so teaching at midnight my time comes naturally.
2) What was something you struggled with when you were a student?
I think my biggest struggle in school was perfectionism.  When it came time for posters or essays or other creative assignments, they were never “done” because I could always find more to add to make them better.  I wanted them to be perfect and had trouble stopping working on them to finish other work on time.  My perfectionism also meant I found it hard to admit when I needed help, and I was one of those students who faught for every single point back on graded assignments.
I think these experiences help me as a tutor.  When I ask my students a question, I give them praise for their process, not just their final answer.  I also try to use phrases like, “that’s perfect” when they apply what we’re learning correctly on a problem, even if they haven’t completed the whole assignment yet.  I want them to see that their work *is* perfect when they do something correctly, rather than holding themselves to an unreachable level of total perfection like I used to try to do.  I especially want them to recognize what they are getting right, and help build their confidence.
 3) What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject was always science.  I love every kind of science, except sometimes biology.  I was disappointed when I got to college and found out I couldn’t just major in “science,” and that I actually had to pick one!  For me, the interdisciplinary stuff is really fascinating.  I like looking at the same phenomena from different perspectives or on different scales.  That’s also why I like tutoring all the different sciences and math.
My least favorite subject was – and still is – history.  I can do it, but I’ve always felt like it was just pure memorization with nothing to think about.  Critical thinking was what excites me.
4) What is your tutoring philosophy?
My tutoring philosophy has always been that tutoring should be student-centered and that learning should be fun!
This means I don’t have one set of materials or even practice problems that I use with every single student.  Instead, I try to tailor my activities and examples to a student’s interests.  For example, I just practiced identifying polygons using Sponge Bob characters with one of my younger students whose favorite TV show is that.
I also try to explain things in different ways, rather than just repeating the same thing over again when a student doesn’t get it.  I encourage my students to ask questions and think about problems on their own.  If a student learned or finds another way to solve a problem, besides my method, I praise them for that and encourage them to use it (as long as it doesn’t violate any laws of physics or break math rules in the process).
5) What do you do for work outside of TutaPoint?
Outside of TutaPoint I also teach and tutor math, science, writing, and computers.  I work with an SAT prep program teaching math concepts and test-taking strategies to high schoolers.  I lead an afterschool science club at a local charter school.  I do family science nights and kids-only science days in my area through a group called Science Explorers.  I tutor college students and AP students in-person in chemistry, physics, calculus, Java programming, and more.  I also help struggling elementary school and middle school students in math.
6) What’s your passion?
I am a giant nerd.  Besides my passion for science and my fascination with math, I like dressing-up in costumes and going to events.  I frequent Renaissance fairs, science fiction clubs, Steampunk balls, theme parties, comic book conventions, and any other excuse to dress-up and have goofy fun!

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