IN THE TRENCHES v THE WAR ROOM
My perspective of Organic Chemistry is significantly different from the professor's, and I believe my students have always benefited from this. Some professors, whose background knowledge far exceeds that of their students, lose touch with the basics that can make the course easy to understand. I understand the course from the student's viewpoint, which is much more practical or utilitarian -- rather than overly theoretical.
I've always tried to take the tests myself to keep things real and to see how I myself perform. This way I have been able to index whether I know what I need to know to make the mark, as opposed to spending time on parts of theory which may be irrelevant.
I know exactly how to help students focus on what they need to know -- because I've had to do it myself.
This does not mean that all theoretical principles deserve neglect. In fact, core concepts of electronegativity, electron deficiency, and electron movement serve as an excellent foundation for making sense of lists of chemical reactions, from hydration of alkenes to nucleophilic attack on carbonyls.
CONSTRUCTION v REPAIR
If at all possible, I prefer to construct my students' understanding rather than to do last-minute repairs before an exam. While it would be nice if I could provide a 'magic pill' service to fix problems in understanding just in time for exams, I am actually a tutor. I believe people need time to learn these concepts thoroughly enough for them to hold up under the stress of a graded test.
Repetition is of tremendous importance in incrementally increasing one's understanding of the material. The more occasions a student has to think through and work through reaction mechanisms, for example, the more automatic some good habits become, enabling the individual to think more at higher levels.
Yes, this aspect of my instruction philosophy implies that it is better to start early and meet regularly. I do take considerable pride in this sort of work, and over time I believe I have understood something about how to best accomplish the goal of the student's achievement.
Ideal lesson length tends to be either two hours or one and a half. This depends on the individual's productive/absorptive attention for the subject.
I am unwilling to meet with students for less than one hour because I believe that these students should not be meeting with a tutor. In special cases I will continue lessons beyond two hours, although as I detect fatigue in the student's attentiveness, I will encourage closure of the session. While long sessions are financially more efficient for me, effectiveness in learning mentally rigorous material without rest inevitably degrades over time. And to be less effective than I can be would be bad business.
I accept CASH because of the problems I have had (occasionally) with personal checks.
Just as I would not waste your time with a slipshod lesson, please respectfully avoid no-shows and last-minute cancellations. Fortunately I have the luxury of not depending on individual students for my livelihood. As such, everything seems to come out in the wash. As there is no explicit or written contract between the tutor and student, either party is of course free to terminate the business relation at any point.