A photo of Valerie, a tutor from University of Maryland-University College

Valerie

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I am a hardworking professional with over 14 years of varied work experience in the education field including Special Education Aide, adjunct professor, professional development and volunteer conference speaker, and substitute teacher. I understand and appreciate cultural diversity while working with SPED, ESL, and general student body. My favorite subjects include, general math, algebra, and geometry, while also instructing and tutoring, some algebra II, statistics, biology, and social studies. I have a BS and MBA in business and enjoy teaching of any type. I lived overseas for 16 years, and traveling is a big part of my life and what has brought me to where I am today.

Valerie’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: University of Maryland-University College - Bachelor of Science, Business and Management

Graduate Degree: Angelo State University - Masters in Business Administration, Management

Hobbies

I love to travel and learn new things.

Tutoring Subjects

Algebra

Arithmetic

College English

Elementary Math

Elementary School Math

English

ESL/ELL

Geometry

High School English

Math

Middle School Math

Other

Pre-Algebra

Special Education


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I truly believe that being successful is not a matter of intelligence but rather a willingness to learn. Every student can learn; however, not all students learn in the same manner. It is essential to find a way to connect with students and determine the best way to present information. Relating information to what the student already knows or is familiar with helps them to retain facts.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

Assessing where the student is starting from is essential to determining as a tutor where we should start. During this first session, we can also start to identify any gaps in learning, especially in math. Often students are weak in their multiplication and division facts, which, in turn, can hinder their ability to process new concepts.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I believe for students to become independent they cannot be afraid to do something wrong. Attempting a problem on their own first helps the student to learn they can figure things out. Once we look at what they did right, they begin to feel more confident.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

When students are struggling with reading comprehension, I try to help them to break down the overall concept being presented. We also talk about what we know about the subject and what we think we know. Looking at vocabulary words, section headings, and learning questions also help to get an overview of the subject and can help with comprehension.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

If a student is struggling in a subject, the best way to get them excited about it is to find a way to relate the subject matter to something that interests them or that they can relate to. I also feel that as they start to see small successes, they will begin to realize they can learn this subject and start to want to impress you with their skill.

What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?

To ensure a student understands a subject, I like to ask them to explain it to me. Using leading questions also helps to see how well the material is being comprehended. Having them relate it to previous material also shows me that they are learning and not just memorizing the material. However, I also believe that some memorization is helpful, and I like to use flashcards to break information down into usable parts.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

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If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

When students have difficulty learning a new concept, I try to first break it down into workable parts. Relating it back to what they know is also important. Once they realize, especially in math, that knowledge is cumulative they can start to relate the new concept to prior knowledge. I like to use word association or acronyms to help them remember keywords or phrases.

What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?

When I first meet a student, I like to learn a little about them. I ask them about their family and hobbies. I like to tell them about myself and always try to find something in my life they can relate to. This can include talking about my two girls or something that I did when I was young. Students are always surprised to find out that l like to snowboard and ride horses. Having interests of my own makes me a little more relatable. Once we have built some common ground, I like to assess where the student is starting from. This is essential to determining where we should start. During this first session, we can also start to identify any gaps in learning, especially in math. Often students are weak in their multiplication and division facts, which, in turn, can hinder their ability to process new concepts.

How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?

Students build confidence in a subject when they feel they are making progress. Once again, I believe small accomplishments lead to big returns. Most students want to master a subject before they even get started. It is important for them to know that learning is a matter of small steps and being able to relate information back to what they know. When students see that their hard work is paying off, they begin to increase their self confidence.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

Determining a student's needs is not always a simple process. The first step would be to discuss what the student feels he/she has problems with. With some leading questions, they can start to focus in on what would really help them. It can take several sessions before you truly understand the underlying issues blocking their understanding. Starting with basic skills assessment is always a good place to begin.

How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?

Having worked with such a wide variety of students, including general education, ESL, and SPED with various qualifying categories, I have had to adjust my teaching style consistently throughout the day. There are times when I am working with two different students with very different needs. I let the student help to determine how much assistance they need. When I see that they can do many things on their own, I back off. However, when I see that they are having trouble, I revisit concepts and break information down to improve understanding.

What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?

During a typical tutoring session, I always like to have the actual school material and student notes that were taken in class. This way, I ensure that I am on the same page as the teacher. I also like to have a paper, pencil, highlighters, and calculators. Notebooks that are specifically used to write cumulative notes, especially for math subjects, are essential. Wipe-off boards are also a good tool to assess understanding.