Behind the Screen: Talking with Math Tutor, Ohmeko Ocampo
Pear Deck Tutor (formerly TutorMe) connects students with expert tutors, so that each student can access support for personalized learning. While teachers play a crucial role in leading classroom instruction, having access to a subject-specific tutor who can provide one-on-one support can greatly enhance a student's learning experience.
Our tutoring community is made up of talented individuals who bring a range of backgrounds and experiences in their field, providing students with the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of experts. To learn more about these individuals, we have created the Behind the screen series, which is dedicated to featuring our tutors and their insights into their work.
In our last feature, we met with Writing Tutor, Raven Collier, about her background and her journey with Pear Deck Tutor. For this feature, we are excited to introduce Math and Engineering Tutor, Ohmeko Ocampo!In our last feature, we met with Writing Tutor, Raven Collier, about her background and her journey with Pear Deck Tutor. For this feature, we are excited to introduce Math and Engineering Tutor, Ohmeko Ocampo!
Where did you go to college? What did you study?
I attended San Diego State University for eight years, receiving a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Why did you decide to become a tutor?
I’ve been a tutor with Pear Deck Tutor for about six years. One of my favorite features on Pear Deck Tutor, and the reason I keep coming back to the platform again and again, is the whiteboard. I love the ability to easily work directly with students, share visuals with them, and provide them with the aid they need to successfully move through each lesson.
What is your most valuable tutoring skill?
1: Breaking content down
My parents have told me that I am great at breaking things down. I enjoy taking a topic and easily break it down into exactly what students need to know and what they need to focus on. Students often focus on things that they don't necessarily need to master right away in order to understand the concept. I like to break things down and help students keep their attention on the things they really need to know and explore.
2: Getting a student comfortable
Getting students comfortable is very important. I start with a question to assess where they already are in math: what they know and what they will likely need to know in order to move forward.
Can you share a transformative moment that influenced your tutoring career?
I’ve worked with several students who are returning to school after a long time away. One particular student has really stood out: a 50-year-old who returned to college for his math degree, despite the fact that he hadn't seen a math lesson in ages!
I had the chance to work with him over the course of a month, when he first returned to school. Together, we were able to help him ace his first algebra test, which received a great deal of appreciation and support. The student stayed in contact and offered continuing appreciation for my tutoring support, which really stood out.
Students like that, who are able to grow and thrive because of the support of a tutor, are what really help me thrive and keep pushing me as a tutor.
What has been a particular challenge that you experienced as a tutor?
I can sometimes struggle working with elementary school students, particularly when teaching fractions. Fractions are a difficult concept for many elementary school students, especially when they are first introduced. It can be challenging to help students wrap their minds around the concept, which makes it very difficult for them to move forward.
Fortunately, I have experience dealing with these challenges. I often start with a highly visual and motivating approach: drawing out a pizza on the Pear Deck Tutor whiteboard and using it to break those fractions down. You really have to go the extra mile when tutoring young students, who will continue to use those fraction foundations for much of their future educational careers.
What are your strategies for motivating students and keeping them engaged during sessions?
I enjoy using analogies, like the pizza one for fractions, to keep students engaged. Relating difficult math concepts back to the real world is a great way to help kids connect more deeply with those concepts and improve their understanding.
I also give students pep talks. I usually ask how they're doing in class before I launch into the tutoring session. This gives me a deeper understanding of where students really are in their educational process and how they're moving toward those goals.
Often, I connect with students who are feeling very overwhelmed or struggling to get started. For those students, I offer support that can help get them back on track. That includes reminding them that if they're doing well in class, they'll probably do well on the test, too! That commitment to connecting with students on a more personal level often helps set them at ease and makes it easier for them to grasp those difficult concepts.
What advice would you give to a tutor who Is just getting started?
Patience is a virtue. You need to have a lot of patience as a tutor. Sometimes, you're going to need to repeat a topic or a subject over and over.
Do you have a passion for tutoring: for sharing your subject and your content with students? Apply with Pear Deck Tutor today to become a tutor.