"I love the community." | Team Spotlight: Nima
This is an interview with Nima, one of the most active tutors on Schoolhouse.world. He has hosted over 100 sessions in anything from precalculus to physics.
Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Nima, and I am an electrical engineer. I live in a suburb northwest of Chicago, Illinois.
How did you learn about Schoolhouse.world?
When the pandemic started, I started an Instagram page posting lessons, problems, and solution videos for math and physics. Around September or October of 2020, I got a message from Schoolhouse.world’s Instagram account saying, “We have seen your page… please check it out. If you want, you can email us and request to join.” It was around December time that I decided “Let’s do this!” So I sent an email and an application form, and I started tutoring in January!
What motivated you to join this community?
The pandemic was the prime motivating factor for starting my Instagram page and joining Schoolhouse.world. I saw that a lot of kids were at home, in virtual school, and I saw this as a way to contribute to help them. I’ve been tutoring for a long time (ten years), and I thought this could be my share of helping the kids during the pandemic. Once or twice, I was also on the Khan Academy website. I never use it, but I saw it as a good tool for kids to use and to improve, with all the free lessons. Basically, Schoolhouse is a really awesome platform I saw that I could help on. It is a good opportunity for me to learn more and connect to other people in the community, as well as to help those who really need it.
What is your favorite or funniest memory at Schoolhouse.world?
I don’t think I have anything funny, but I can say that every time I’ve had a session, that one hour of tutoring would be the highlight of every day that I was tutoring. I was energized before the session preparing for it, I was energized through the lesson, and I was energized even after it. I usually was tired after work—I finish at 4 or 4:30—but I always had my sessions after work. And after the session, for the next 4 or 5 hours, I was full of energy. I can say the sessions are my favorite part of Schoolhouse for me!
What has been one challenge you’ve faced while working at Schoolhouse.world?
We have the sessions on Zoom, and learners usually have their cameras off, and I don’t see them. I’ve been tutoring for a long time, and it’s always in-person, seeing the people. When you teach and give the lesson, you can see their reactions. You see from their face if they understand it, or they don’t understand it. The reaction that you get from the learners helps you to determine what to do for the next step (“what do you want to do now? Do you want to repeat yourself?”). But on Zoom, you can only rely on their feedback; for example, if they use the chat and tell you they don’t get it or open their mic and ask “can you repeat that?”. But if they’re all silent—they don’t seem to say anything—that’s the worst feeling. You don’t know where you are! Did you do a good job or did you not?
One thing I do is I always ask learners for their feedback to see if they get it, if they understand it, and if they have any questions. In SAT sessions, I also use live polls. Using polls, I can see how quickly learners answer questions, how long it takes, how many get it right, and how many almost get it right; this feedback is really good. I’m still struggling to tutor on Zoom, but every day talking to other tutors, being in sessions—it helps. Every day, I’m still learning.
You’ve hosted so many sessions (exactly 100!). What motivates you to devote so much time to be a highly active member of the community?
I would say it’s the end of sessions when usually people leave. When learners say the session was useful to them, and they leave feedback saying that the session really helped, or they loved the exercises—“thank you for the lesson”, “it helped me understand”, “it cleared up so many things”—that encourages me to do the next session. I’m like, “well, I helped today, so let me do another session, and another session”. After the tenth session, that’s the most encouraging part of it. I would say that it helped me push and do the next session. The learners keep me going.
How has your experience at Schoolhouse.world impacted you? Did you learn anything new?
Yes, everything, from the simple concepts in math and physics to interactions—how to interact, the best ways to teach. I can’t name one or two things I learned; basically, I would say if I gave myself a three out of ten as a tutor at the beginning, right now, with all the feedback I’ve gotten from other tutors, the new ways of teaching, and feedback from learners, I would say I’ve improved a couple of points. But I think there’s still more to learn.
The environment here is very supportive. I love the community. Everyone is here to help each other. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tutor—an experienced tutor for 20 years or a high school student who is also tutoring. Everyone feels that everyone else is here to help each other to grow and to become better tutors.
What do you hope to achieve in the future as a member of this community?
I want to be more involved. I’ve tried to join other groups, to help more than just tutoring. I haven’t been successful that much, but I want to be more involved in the community and help in other ways outside of tutoring.
Any advice for other members in our community?
I wouldn’t say this is necessarily advice, but I will say that it’s a learning experience for all of us, so don’t be afraid if you make any mistakes. If you go to a session, and nobody shows up, or one person shows up, or twenty people show up, or you don’t get the feedback you hoped for, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re there, you’re tutoring, you’re doing your best, that’s all that matters. It is going to help the student, even if they don’t realize it.
We would like to thank Nima for his contributions to our community and vision of free and quality education. We are excited to see what he will bring to the Schoolhouse community in the future!
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