Math Tutoring in Indianapolis!
Professional, 25-year math tutor is ready to help YOU!

Just e-mail me to get started!

What I do...
I help you find what works for you.
Everybody's good at something. Maybe for you it's music, or acting, or sports, or reading, I don't know. But there's something you're successful at, and I guarantee you that the things you do to be successful at that will work for you in math, as well. Remember your coach telling you (over and over and over...) that you'll play the way you practice? Well, how you'll do on a test is pretty closely related to how seriously you take doing and understanding your homework. And why do you have to practice all those scales, or swim laps till you're beyond exhausted? Well, people who are really good at music and triathlons have almost universally been found to have done their scales and their laps to a point most people would consider neurotic. If successful people did it, and it worked for them, then guess what? A version of that work ethic will work for you! We just have to find a good math-practice analogy, and the right ways of thinking that you can grab on to, and then practice them daily. Perfect practice makes perfect, and doing homework the wrong way only reinforces the wrong things.

I think out loud.
Sometimes, it can look like your teacher does problems by magic. They skip little steps here and there, and they lose you about a third of the way through their explanation. That turns everything else they're saying into that WAH-WAH-WAH stuff from Charlie Brown, and it's all over. With some math subjects, the only way to "teach" it is to show you the things that someone who already knows how to do it thinks about while they're doing it. This can make a five-second problem take ten minutes to work through, but if you don't know how to think, then how will you ever get it as easily as they do? And conversely, if you DO get the chance to see, step by step, just exactly what's going on behind that "magic" thought process, and then you try it, you'll see how easy it really can be!

I know how to do the problems.
Of course, that seems like it would be a given. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who help students with math who do not have every single section of every single chapter of every single subject absolutely under their command in fifteen different ways. If a tutor doesn't have that, how can they instantly pick the right way (or the right five ways) to explain something to you? How do they know how what you're doing right now will affect what you're going to do two or three years from now? How will they read the non-verbal feedback they're getting from you, to KNOW that you're getting it or not, if more than 5% of their brain is tied up with how to do a problem? Tutoring is NOT knowing how to do the problems, it's making sure YOU do when you leave.

I speak English, not math.
Well, of course, I can "speak math", if I thought it would work. But if you already "spoke" math, you'd have understood it in class, and you wouldn't be looking for a tutor, would you? I see math as a language that you need to become as fluent in as you can be. But your native language is English, right? So, that's what we speak. That glazed look in most math students' eyes is all the proof the teacher should need that they're not being talked to in a language they understand. You can be sure that the amount of "math" I speak to you is only going to increase as your fluency level increases.

I tell you what's critical to know, and where the "tricks" and pitfalls are.
Let's face it. There are some things that you really won't use very much after you take the test on them. But then, there are things that you'll use every single day of your mathematical life. There are sections where the teacher can throw so many "trick" questions at you, you'd better know what the rules are, and what you are and are not allowed to do. There are tests that are so long that no one gets done, because the teacher was trying to test how efficiently people could do the problems. For that, you need to have understood and practiced the "tricks" until you mastered them! But did you know that ahead of time? The teacher probably said it, but maybe you didn't hear it. Oops. As one who used to write the same kinds of tests, I can tell you just what you need to know, what you can figure out as you go, what you need to have memorized, and what you need to be rock-solid fluent at! I can tell you the kinds of things to watch out for, because they'll be the "gotcha"s on the test! I call it "street-wise" math....

I do everything in my power to be positive, non-threatening and stress-free.
While I certainly do want you to learn the stuff, prepare the right way and get much more practice than you'd probably like to, I am about the most laid-back teacher (in presentation style) that you'll ever have. Yeah, I want you to watch your signs, and do every step right, and think the right way, and work to the best of your ability, but we can get that done by just sitting down and doing some math together. No one's born knowing anything, so the only thing I see wrong with not understanding something is if you give up trying. Even though it's not always easy, the deal will always be that if you don't give up, neither will I.

I show you the right way to think.
In Calculus, the books are just plain not written in English. In Trig, they always seem to teach things "the hard way". In Geometry, proofs and "always-sometimes-never" problems always seem to be the sticking point for most people. In Algebra, it's those darned word problems. Getting past these problems kind of goes along with my "thinking out loud" strategy, but there's more. I see tutoring, ultimately, as mentoring a person towards greater fluency in math, acting as a role model in everything, from the way you organize your homework folder, to how you plan a Geometry Proof, to which Trig identities you MUST know, to how you read a formula out loud, to the order that you write things when you're completing the square or factoring the sum of two cubes, to keeping the promises and commitments you make to yourself, to crossing your "z"s so they don't look like "2"s, just everything. No place to hide, if you just insist on doing things in a way that won't be helpful. Not that there's only one way to do things, but that there are pitfalls in doing anything other than the way that fluent people have found to be useful. Kind of like why we've all decided it's a pretty good idea to stop for red lights, and a bad idea to put makeup on while driving through a school zone....

What I don't do...
I don't tutor in groups or pairs or "study sessions" (except for a "night-before-the-final" review session I've done a couple of times in the past).
The idea of tutoring is that it's one-on-one. I can have five sessions with five different people on the exact same review sheet (even if they're in the same class with the same teacher!), and they will be five completely different experiences. Sure, I can make more money by seeing multiple people at once, but it's not anywhere near as effective. You'll sense that as we're doing it, and you'll know it once you leave. Your friends can have their own hour if they want.

I don't tutor by telephone, Internet, or e-mail.
Same deal. If I can't see your eyes, and watch you write, then I can't tell if you're really getting it. The only time I make an exception to this is to give a follow-up explanation for something we've already been working on, or to help with a problem for you if you're having trouble the night before a test, and we don't have time to get together before you need to have an important question answered. (In that case, I have all the math-writing software to make sure I can write all the symbols in correct math style.)

Of course, having said that, I'll tell you that if you've stumbled across this site, and live in Anchorage, and need help with a problem, I won't tell you I won't help you with it. Just e-mail me and we'll figure it out. Of course, I can't really be your "tutor" at that point, but I sure won't leave you high and dry the night before a test.  I would appreciate your paying a little something for my time, though. :-)  And no, ...

I don't do your homework for you.
I will do sample problems to help teach you things, and to show examples of things to watch out for, but I'm not there to do your homework for you, or to watch you plow through it because you "didn't have time" before seeing me. That just doesn't help anybody. You do homework for one reason, and that's as practice to help you learn the skills you need to succeed at your test, and to give you the foundation you need to learn the next level of stuff. If anything, I'll ask you to practice more than the teacher assigns. But I'll also tell you why that'll help, and I won't let you waste your time by practicing it wrong. And no, the grade your teacher gives you for doing your homework is not the main reason you do it! (Though it is the main reason you should try everything in your power never to not do it!)

I don't let you get by with making careless mistakes, or being sloppy in your thinking.
You play the way you practice, and if you're going to take the time to practice, you might as well do it right to get the most benefit. Ignoring details is what gets you in trouble in math, but the upside of having to pay such attention to details is that if you follow all the rules, and do everything right along the way, then (as long as you have your teacher's blessing,) you're allowed to do anything you want, and you will get the right answer. (Life isn't always like that, but math is!) The catch is, you have to follow all the rules, and do everything right along the way! So, we practice doing that. But, we can't ever undermine what your teacher expects of you, so there'll be no using of non-teacher-accepted "short cuts". You can't skip steps, or go faster than your ability to do the problems consistently correctly allows. And no fair doing anything unless you can tell me why you're doing it. If you don't know why, then that's something for us to talk about. But you can be sure that in understanding and doing math problems, the "why" is just as important as the "how"!

I don't talk down to you, or "go on anyway" if you don't understand something.
This one should be obvious. I don't like lecturing at people, I like just doing math, explaining as we go, and bringing you along with me. In class, some kids are always going to get left behind, and some are always going to be bored. That's terrible, but it's just unfortunately the way it is. Many teachers have many techniques to try and minimize this, but whenever you have more than one person you're teaching, you're going to find variances in the way you have to present. With tutoring, we can go back and review adding fractions or the multiplication tables during a trig lesson if we have to, and there's not one person who's going to be bored by it. You get the attention you need to make sure you understand it, or at least, to know what you need to work on at home!

What I ask of you...
Come prepared
Book, paper, pencil, assignment, old tests, review sheets - you know the drill. But even more than that, I ask you to try your best to know what'll help you get the most out of your session. Be organized, so you can find things without having to dig. (That's part of the whole "good student" thing.) Was there a topic you just plain didn't understand? Do you have a test coming up? Do you even know when your next test is? Do you have problems from your last quiz that you missed, and want to go over? Do you need help with some homework you tried but couldn't do? Have you done all the problems you could do already? If you just took a test, do you know what topic you'll be covering next (so we can preview it)? Did you think to ask your teacher? I'm not there in class with you, and I can't possibly know what your assignment is, if you don't. But if I can see your syllabus, and your notes from class, then I'll know almost instantly the things your teacher emphasized, the things I don't have to waste your time worrying about, and whether or not you're at the level of understanding I'd expect from someone whose test is only x days away. How I go about conducting a session from the first minute greatly depends on these things, so any time I spend having to gently pry information out of you is time we could've spent filling holes in the knowledge base. Keep a "things I need to ask my tutor" list through the week, and hit me with it when you sit down. You can literally bring me anything, and I will work a solid, productive session out of it. We can still be productive even if you're not prepared, but remember: We're trying to find problems and fix them. Time spent finding problems can be useful, but it takes away from time we can spend fixing. I can find all the holes in your knowledge by watching you do problems, talking to you about them, and using my experience to know what things might be sore spots for you. But that's not the best substitute for your taking the initiative in "knowing what you don't know". In other words, do the best you can to help make sure our time is able to be spent as productively as possible!

Don't cancel at the last minute
Please, if you have to cancel, then try to give me a couple of days notice so I can juggle the old schedule, or maybe get someone else in your time spot. Usually, I have to ask that you pay for a session that you cancel at the last minute, but it's not because I'm trying to punish you. I really do spend a lot of time and effort in getting my schedule lined up, and when I get a last-minute cancellation, I usually have to end up sitting and doing nothing for an hour. That's time I'm not at home with my family, because I've already promised it to you. And you've promised to make the commitment to do the best job you can do in trying to become the best student you can be. Keeping that promise to yourself is the simplest thing you can do to ensure that we have the chance to get you to succeed. So, please, know what your schedule is to the best of your ability (that's part of the whole "good student" thing, too), make an appointment you know you can keep, remember what it is, keep it, and then we can start worrying about math!

Do your best
If you've decided you need a tutor, then that's all I need to hear to know that you're motivated to do well. If you want to learn, then there's nothing that you can't learn. It's really that simple. A tutor will be only one of many tools you use to reach your goals, but it will be a very valuable tool for you.

Just e-mail me to get started!

About Me

First, the boring stuff: I have a B.S. in Math from Purdue University, with minors in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. I also have a grade 7-12 Teacher's License for math, and was a traditional classroom math teacher in High School and College before leaving for Industry. I speak German and Spanish, am a professional-level musician, an instrument-rated private pilot, and have traveled the world chasing total eclipses. I'm married with three kids, and live way out in the country, just west of Indianapolis.  I tutor on all sides of town, though, so we can certainly work something out as far as places to meet!

I tutor at libraries, at people's houses, at fast-food restaurants, just wherever and whenever is convenient. Most of my students live on the north side, so that's where I do a lot of my tutoring. But I also see people on the west side, northwest, southwest, northeast, just wherever. I see quite a few people every week, so I usually try to schedule times for us to meet that are somewhat consistent, but always subject to week-to-week fluctuations to accommodate things that come up. I usually see most of my students on the weekends, but of course, after I get off work through the week is fine too. We usually meet for an hour at a time, though I do see some people for a half hour.  And if you need more than an hour, I can talk about math all day long!

I tutor throughout the school year, and try to stay somewhat busy in the summer. I can introduce an entire course with a few meetings during the summer, and give you that "head start" into the class that will make a big difference when the teacher is explaining the subject for (as far as you're concerned) the second time!

The most important thing is that I try to do what you need, when you need it. I've seen some people ONE TIME only, right before a big Calculus test they just wanted to make sure they got an A+ on. Other people, I've seen on a weekly basis for all four years of high school, mentoring them and being that fluent math role-model they needed to get them through. (Then, it was their little brother's or sister's turn!)

Whatever your situation, you can be sure that we can work through it, and you can achieve up to your fullest potential. It may not be easy, but then if it were, that diploma or degree you get at the end wouldn't be worth much, would it? If you go to one of the above-listed schools, I may already be on your Guidance Counselor's math tutor list. Call or e-mail me, and we'll get something going right away.  (If I'm not on their list, or if you just want to get hold of me right away, then please e-mail me with your phone number, and I'll call you. I just prefer that my home phone number not be openly published on the Internet....)

Most importantly...

Thanks, and good luck in school!

Just e-mail me to get started!

A note on "special needs" kids

Update Nov 2007:
On a whim, I decided to take the SAT. No prep, no time to think about it, just sign up and take it two weeks later. Partly to see how I'd do, partly to be able to relate to what the kids have to go through, and partly to help me better prepare them for the questions they'll face. I'd hoped to ace the math, and at least show well in the English. Well, I'm happy to say that I got a 2350 out of 2400! (800 Math / 800 Writing / 750 Critical Reading). I then took the Math Level 1 and Level 2 tests, and got 800s on both of them. The experience really opened my eyes to what high school kids have to go through (that Level 2 test is extremely challenging), and hopefully will help me better prepare the kids that are going to be going through it themselves.

© 2016 Dan McGlaun
(dan at