Math Tutoring in Indianapolis!
Professional, 25-year math tutor is ready to help YOU!
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
I tell you what's critical to know, and where the "tricks" and
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
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
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...
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.
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
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....)
Thanks, and good luck in school!
e-mail me to get started!
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 mcglaun.com)