A photo of Valerie, a tutor from Lipscomb University

Valerie

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I am a graduate of Lipscomb University. I received my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education in 2011, and I have been teaching fifth grade ever since. I spent the last two and a half years working in Costa Rica at a bilingual school while also pursuing my passion to learn Spanish and work with non-native English speakers. If you were to ask my former students what I am like, I think they would tell you I am firm, but enthusiastic about making learning fun. Two of my greatest strengths are helping students make sense of math, and working with students who are non-native English speakers. I will do my very best to ensure that your child meets his/her goals in whatever subject or test-prep it might be. Traveling and learning about new cultures is my favorite hobby, and I have visited nearly 20 countries. I hope that because of this I can help show your child that what they are learning is important, and inspire them to change the world for better.

Valerie’s Qualifications

Education & Certification

Undergraduate Degree: Lipscomb University - Bachelors, K-6 Interdisciplinary Teaching

Hobbies

Traveling, Playing Piano, Reading, and spending time with my family!

Tutoring Subjects

Elementary School

Elementary School Math

English

ESL/ELL

ISEE Prep

ISEE-Lower Level Mathematics Achievement

ISEE-Lower Level Quantitative Reasoning

Languages

Math

Middle School Math

Other

Spanish

Spanish 1

Test Prep


Q & A

What is your teaching philosophy?

I believe in making learning fun and using a variety of resources and methods to meet a student's particular needs. I teach students to become good thinkers and how to ask good questions so they can learn a topic thoroughly.

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

The first thing I like to do is ask students "If you could tell your teacher only one thing about yourself, what would it be?" I would then tell them the one thing I would want them to know about myself. After that, I typically like to get information on their personal interests, how they rate themselves academically, socially, etc., so that I have a firm basis of what this particular child is like and how he/she views himself. It also helps me gauge any areas of insecurity about a certain subject. The next thing I would do is discuss the goals that student is working towards so that I can begin measuring what particular skills will benefit that student the most.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

I like to make students think for themselves. I will never give them an answer, but I will ask good questions to help them achieve an appropriate response to a particular assignment. By modeling aloud types of questions, predictions, and using what they already know, students are on a great path to being an independent learner.

How would you help a student stay motivated?

Because I have had the opportunity to travel to many countries, I think that I can use lots of my own experiences to relate to them about why what they are learning is important. Sometimes a subject might not be directly related to their future goals or dream job, for example, but there is always a way to show them how what they are going through connects to their future--whether it's their attitude about doing something they don't enjoy, or even learning that sometimes you have to spend time working and building confidence in something to enjoy it.

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

The first thing I try to look for is finding the root of the problem and solving that first. For example, maybe a student is having trouble adding fractions. You might realize it's not the steps to adding that they are confused by, but maybe they don't even understand what a fraction represents, therefore making it challenging to answer a problem. They need something concrete that they can picture visually in their mind.

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

Teaching students to ask good questions as they read, and how to check for understanding for themselves while they are reading is key to success. I will model aloud how to ask good questions, and how to look for context clues to create a better picture of what is taking place. I always tell students that if they can't picture what is happening the way they can watch a movie with color and sound effects, they are most likely not fully experiencing the text.

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

I like to find a balance between incorporating strict guidelines and humor into my lessons. This allows for a firm, but relaxed environment. Everybody wants to feel comfortable with the person they are learning from. I sympathize with student weaknesses and share with them my own struggles and how I have accomplished them. Every student is unique and responds differently to situations. For that reason, my strategies completely depend on the type of learner I am working with.

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

Hopefully I will already know many of the everyday things that excite that student. Then I could find ways to show them how what they are learning applies to those passions. For example, a student who loves video games might not have any idea about all the math and coding that goes into making those games.

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

I will make sure I am giving a variety of verbal and written quick checks to monitor student improvement and understanding.

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

I like to make sure students know exactly which part of the subject they do well. For example, maybe in reading they have excellent oral fluency, but struggle with comprehension. I would make sure they know what they do well, and celebrate even tiny improvements in the areas they are working in.

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

This depends on the subject, but I mainly look for patterns of mistakes as well as thought process and areas of insecurity, and from that I try to find the root of the problem that, once solved, will help lead them to success.

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

I am a very flexible teacher, and will change my plans mid-lesson if I realize that a student has other needs to meet first in order to lead to success. This could be anything from changing a direct instruction lesson to learning by song, or as simple as realizing we need to go back and review a topic before moving on.

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

For me, this completely depends on what subject, topic, etc., that a student is wanting greater success in. It also depends if the student has particular materials they need covered.