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James (Jim) Frankenfield - Tutoring Services

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If you were expecting a flashy marketing site, well, sorry to disappoint you but I do all my own server and website work. And I am not so good at flashy marketing but very focused on academics and competency. If that's what you're looking for you are in the right place!

Photo of James Frankenfield, Tutoring page

I offer math tutoring, physics tutoring and engineering tutoring at levels from middle school through university level. (Specializing in high school, AP and A-Level, and university levels.) You can view my Introduction Video on YouTubeOpens in New Window. (The description has a link to a shorter version as well.) Contact me for more information or to arrange a free consultation to discuss your math, physics or engineering goals and how I can help you reach them.

My tutoring rates are competitive, other tutors with comparable (but often lesser) backgrounds often charge 2-3 times as much. At least one company leasing out current university students charges more than I do. (They actually don't pay the students all that well, the company keeps most of the revenue. That is who you are really giving your money to.) I have no idea how much the growing number of high school kids claiming to tutor calculus think they are worth. It seems everybody is a tutor these days! It is more important than ever before to evaluate what you are getting in terms of what you are paying.

I am not a student, I have two M.Sc. degrees (Math and Science) and a B.Sc. (Engineering). See the About Me section. I have actually taught courses from pre-college algebra through graduate level math and engineering at several universities. While I have less experience in schools I have taught middle school math and science and high school physics and math for several international schools. At one of the schools I was the assistant director for academics. I have worked for IBM, Intel and Thiokol Corp as well as a few academic research labs.

While most tutors will tell you what they claim they will or can do I would like to make clear some things I do not do:
(Click on the + to expand on each point)

I will not tutor subjects I am not fully qualified to teach

I now see people offering to tutor all subjects (or several disparate subjects), academically. And not at the primary level. I am highly qualified in math and physical science. I am not qualified in history, academic English (with some very specific ESL exceptions), life sciences and other subjects. I had truly excellent teachers for many subjects in high school and I am sure my history teachers would never have tutored math. No matter how good they were in history.

I honestly do not know why anyone would claim to be able to effectively tutor all subjects at the high school or even middle school level.

Even within math there may be a few specific topics I either am not truly an expert in or just don't care to teach or tutor. I will inform you if you inquire about these topics, I will not claim to be able to (or to be interested in) teaching them when I am not adequately qualified.

I recently saw a post in a tutoring group by a guy wanting to know where to get solutions manuals with full explanations because he had taken on a math student and had no confidence in his own ability. This was somebody with a university background but in admissions, not teaching. And their degree was in education, not math. In another case a student tutor was getting a different answer than the solution in the back of the book and had to ask in a help forum if he was right. This was a very simple problem and it should have been clear that the given solution was an error. You can expect better from me, and should expect better from anyone charging you money to tutor as a subject expert.

I will not pretend to be able to diagnose or address learning disabilities or to address problems I am not trained for

This applies more to younger students than I usually tutor (with some exceptions), but I have been seeing tutors of children asking in various groups how to recognize or handle a wide variety of learning disabilities. From dyslexia to autism to ADD and other issues. These are the things education majors supposedly learn about, and even a good educator may simply know enough to make a referral. Many of the tutors asking how to deal with these problems are actually former teachers and should know better. The groups they frequent are so focused on growing a business and making money that they have lost sight of basic ethics.

There appears to be more revenue possibilities from higher fees for tutoring students with challenges. This leads to tutors claiming the student has some problem which of course the tutor happens to specialize in. There are questions in groups about how to obtain various certificates, many of which have limited value.

If I have problems teaching a student I will discuss that with the parent and expect them to come to some conclusion on the next steps for the student. If you have a young learner who experiences special or unusual challenges please be sure you are working with somebody qualified to know when to simply use a different method and when to step back and make a proper referral.

A related situation for adults was also highlighted in a tutor help group. Somebody was going to tutor a recovering stroke victim and had no idea what they were doing. Rather than declining the work or offering a referral they went and sought advice on a Facebook group. This is a special situation and is partly rehabilitation as well as partly math. Some training in both would be more appropriate.

I will not charge per minute (I am not a lawyer!), or for consultations

I now see tutors that are charging per minute. Others charge for initial consultations or put time limits on them, and/or try to fit updates with parents (where applicable) into their paid time. I charge per session, usually 1-1.5 hours. If we go over a few minutes that's ok and included. (At the +15 minute mark I may or may not charge 1/4 of the hourly rate, at my discretion depending on various factors.) I am happy to provide initial consultations of any length for free in order to help you make an informed decision concerning my services. Likewise I will not charge anything for occasional meetings with parents of minors in order to discuss their status and progress.

I will not schedule students or classes back-to-back with no time between them

Many tutors today are filling up their schedule as tightly as possible. This reflects more dedication to their revenue than to the student. I never have students back-to-back. Often we do not know in advance if we need 1 hour or 1.5 hour. And while I expect us to begin on time there may be some reason we begin just a couple minutes late. Math and science problems and explanations do not fit neatly into a precise amount of time so I allow some flexibility - you will not be abruptly cut off in the middle of something.

I will not waste contact time by failing to prepare

Whether I can prepare, and how much, often depends on what I am provided with in advance. If I am informed of what the student needs or wants to cover, including specific problems, I will prepare in advance. I can solve most problems in tutored subjects without advance notice but it does take more time. In the case of advanced topics it may take quite a bit of time. When I review the problems and/or the text being used in advance I can accomplish more during your time. There is no charge for this preparation time, of course. It's part of the service.

And here are the things I will do:

I will be prepared and available on time

I spend time preparing for each individual session. This depends on the material and on what I am informed of in advance concerning the goals and topics. Sometimes this is minimal and sometimes it takes a lot of time but in either case it is at no cost to the student.

I expect students to be ready to begin on time, and it's only fair that I am as well. I understand there may be reasons, including technical ones, for short delays. But I try hard to begin right on time and certainly within 5-10 minutes at the most.

I will provide follow up materials after a lesson when appropriate

During a session I may make use of excel or Desmos or some other tool. I send the files or links to the student afterward. I may also send an email with a bit of follow-up. How much I send, what it is, and whether I do this at all varies. Sometimes it is not necessary and other times it may be significant. Like preparation time this is included in my contact hour fee and there is no additional cost.

I have seen some tutors with tight limits on this and additional fees. I do not believe in that.

I will teach using the best current technology and methods available given my resources

I currently use an external webcam on a traditional whiteboard, a document camera, and software allowing me to share things like excel, word, Desmos and MAA WeBWork either separately or in custom combinations. It's not unusual to switch around between the problem statement from a text or webwork, and the document scanner. Or to combine them in a single screen. The software allows me to remain visible in the scene at all times in addition to whatever we are looking at.

I upgrade my facilities as my limited resources permit. I recently acquired a better external cam. I am considering a second webcam which anticipate will be essential for upcoming courses and things like science demonstrations.

My studio and methods have been somewhat inspired by Prof Willems of MIT who has done a fantastic job of teaching courses online. I have nowhere near the resources he does, and neither MIT nor anyone else is backing me. Nonetheless I have implemented a very minimal version of what he is doing. I have also considered some of his shared experience concerning methods for actual course teaching (as opposed to tutoring).

I am not teaching from my van down by the river using a phone! (And yes, I have seen such a tutor asking how to get students on a tutor forum!)

I use my own materials and approach, I do not present somebody else's curriculum

In the case of tutoring the actual curriculum is usually set by the institution where a student studies. I can work within any curriculum. (Beware of students offering to tutor a curriculum they did not study, it may be much different from what they know at that point in their studies/career.) I just need to know what it being covered and what approach is used which I can discern from course materials and syllabi.

The materials I use are my own. I develop them as-needed and they are often unique to the student and their studies. In many cases I do this "on the fly" during a tutoring session. I'll go create a Desmos graph to demonstrate something, or cook up an excel spreadsheet. If I create something of lasting utility I will send it to the student after the session.

In the realm of English teaching there is an abundance of tutors and teachers constantly looking for a canned curriculum. Many taught for Chinese companies that provided everything, making them simply a presenter with no preparation needed. Now that the China market has imploded they are lost and can't create anything of their own. I taught avalanche safety and risk management for many years and see the same thing happening. There is one curriculum which has established itself as the standard and this is then sold to instructors and programs. They have varying backgrounds and qualifications but few would be able to create a curriculum of their own.

I believe a teacher or tutor should have the ability to create the materials they need, and in the case of a course the entire curriculum. It's part of being qualified. I have done this many times in university courses, including some that were unique courses which I designed from scratch. And if your tutor or potential tutor/teacher does not know the difference between tutoring and teaching a course you'd be best advised to run the other way! (Yes, tutors have actually asked what the difference is in tutor groups!)