I MEET STUDENTS WHERE THEY ARE
on the path of learning
Some students love math and want to go deeper. Some find themselves struggling for a variety of reasons. Others just hate math and believe they will never learn it! Math anxiety is an issue for some students. Assistance with organizational or study skills is what others need. I have been successful in helping students in all these contexts.
My approach to teaching mathematics is to teach for understanding, not just skills. It’s important for kids to understand concepts and be able to connect what they’re learning to what they’ve previously learned. Mathematics learning resembles both a tower and a spiral.
Learning how to ask questions is a fundamental step toward solid critical thinking. I teach students what are called mathematical “habits of mind” so that they can approach new contexts and problems with a toolbox of full of thinking skills and problem solving strategies.
For students who believe they “will never get math,” I help them take steps gradually from their “fixed” mindset to a “growth” mindset.
Making mistakes is actually good thing. They actually make your brain grow! We now know the brain is plastic, not static. Ability and intelligence can grow with effort and practice. The statement “neurons that fire together, wire together” explains how fresh neural pathways are forged in our brains when we struggle and make mistakes. Real learning takes place at the point of challenge, and this is when these connections are made.
The large majority of “mistakes” in math are actually mistakes of attention. I teach my students how to track their mistakes and notice frequency and patterns in the type of errors they make. “Paying attention to your attention” (self-monitoring) and “thinking about your thinking” (metacognition) are indispensable strengths for young people to develop.
from parents, students and colleagues
Our experience of working with Michael has been nothing short of wonderful. Michael successfully works with my two sons who have very different learning styles. — J.C.
My daughter was weak in math upon arriving [at the middle school] and found a helpful and compassionate teacher in Mr. Murphy. He helped her find her footing and confidence in math, and genuinely made her feel he was available and interested in her success.
It is a pleasure to give my highest recommendation for Michael Murphy. He has worked with my son for two years and given him tools that make his high school classwork both meaningful and rewarding. My son’s increased general knowledge of subject matter and higher performance on tests, have directly resulted in a deeper interest in his studies. – S.G.
[Michael] met with students for additional support before school, where he patiently helped them articulate their mathematical thinking and demystify complex interdisciplinary projects that are one of the hallmarks of the Nueva School experience. Michael also helped me learn the power of reflection in the math classroom, as he emphasized mathematical writing in the form of exit tickets and regular journal responses.
– C.G. (teacher colleague)
Additionally, Mr. Murphy has a friendly personality and effectively encouraged my grandson to raise questions, requests clarifications and to verbally express without hesitation any and all concerns.
My grandson came to feel very comfortable with Mr. Murphy and within that supportive learning environment, he thrived and benefited academically.
Based on the very satisfactory experience with the tutoring from Mr. Murphy, we plan to request his service again in the next school year.
Although our son was performing fairly well in math, we felt that he was not maximizing his abilities. Consequently, we specifically looked for a tutor who would help him discover his love for increasingly complex math without adding pressure. Michael’s philosophy and style of teaching… was perfect. — W. K.
Thank you for being the best math teacher I have ever had. Thank you for coming to school early and hellping me.
He’s not just about numbers.
As a 7th grade Middle Schooler, my daughter was not a bad math student, but lacked confidence, and like many kids her age she didn’t really “get it”. Over the past school year Michael has helped her to make sense of math, which has allowed her to have a better understanding, and a deeper appreciation for the subject.
– S. P.
I write to recommend Mr. Michael Murphy as an excellent math tutor based on his weekly sessions over the last school year assisting my sixth grade grandson. Mr. Murphy demonstrated caring, patience, math knowledge and superior age- appropriate teaching skill. My grandson significantly improved his understanding of math concepts, his capacity to solve rather complex math problems and most importantly developed a healthy self-esteem in addressing mathematic issues.
We have gotten to know Michael fairly well while he has worked for us. It is a pleasure to see my son’s eagerness to share accomplishments in all facets of his life during their weekly sessions. Michael continues to have a very positive effect both on my son’s scholastic ability and his overall confidence. – S.G.
As a tutor, Michael approaches his sessions methodically. He creates a spiral-bound notebook to share with each student, where he diligently records his or her work together. This has allowed Michael to personalize the work that he does with each student. The notebooks have also allowed [him] to note trends and patterns in the student’s approach to the subject. i – K.T. (teacher colleague)
We were quite pleased with the support Mr. Murphy was able to provide our son. Mr. Murphy established a very good working relationship with our son, who felt quite comfortable working with him.
Both my sons enjoy working with Michael. He is calm and patient when they don’t understand a concept and finds interesting ways to help them see the problem in a new light. They tell me that he really wants to know whatthey want to work on and what they need help on. They are even happy that he gives them ‘homework’ during the week to help them understand concepts. — J.C.
As a teacher, [Michael] exemplifies kindness and effectiveness, rooted in his ample experience teaching different levels of mathematics for a wide variety of students.
– E.D. (teacher colleague)
In sum, Michael would be an ideal math instructor. His experience in teaching children of various ages, along with his ability to handle even the most difficult math challenges without overtly pressuring them is a unique combination. — W.K.
Michael is an extremely empathetic teacher. This, coupled with his education, experience and other varied credentials, allow him to offer a particularly powerful package as an educator. I am quite certain he would function as a very potent asset to any establishment he were to become affiliated with. – S.G.
My daughter is no longer scared of Math. Her thought process has improved so much when it comes to breaking down problems, that in a most recent test she was the only student able to solve a particular math problem out of her whole 7th grade of five classes. That’s progress.
About Michael Murphy
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