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Be a better tutor in 2013

At 121 Home Tutors we think it’s important to find ways to continually improve our tutoring skills. This is about more than keeping up with general educational changes or a new syllabus. It’s about how we can be the best possible tutor so we can help students improve their own skills and confidence.  You can be a good tutor if you know your subject but a great tutor needs to love their subject and have skills such as good organisation and the ability to build relationships quickly. We’ve gathered together some top tips to help you be the best tutor possible this year.

  • If you are considering being a tutor then you have to think about how much you enjoy your subject area. It’s important that you are really enthused about what you tutor and can pass this onto a student. Why? Because the students you encounter will often have a bad relationship with the subject you are teaching so you need to find ways to turn them back onto it and want to learn again.
  • Know your own skills. Don’t fall into the trap of offering tutoring in areas you are weak in, you have to be honest about this and know your strengths.
  • Agree fees (how much and how you will be paid), tutoring times (and length) and location (somewhere quiet) before you start any tutoring with a student. It’s a good idea to also have this in writing.
  • Be clear about what is expected of you and your student. You need to establish this very early in tutoring (and revisit it often).  It’s a good idea to sit down with your student (and parents if appropriate) and talk about what they want to get out of tutoring, what they expect from a tutor and what you are able to offer.
  • Be prepared to talk about how you tutor and the methods you use. If you are new to tutoring then you need to think about this.
  • There are certain things you have to be prepared to do as a tutor – you have to turn up on time and where you said you would, you need to be organised and able to keep records and paperwork in order. You have to be able to keep your student (and their parents) informed of their progress.
  • You will have different relationships with different students but you have to be prepared to work on them and always keep them professional.
  • If tutoring is likely to continue for some time then it’s good to agree up front how many months it might be for (so you can plan your own workload). You can also then talk about booking holidays and what will happen over school holidays. At this stage you also need to discuss what happens if you or your student want to cancel one session or end a tutoring agreement.
  • Get planning – every tutoring session will need some thought about structure, content and what your student will get out of it.
  • Find ways to establish rapport quickly and get to know your student – ask lots of questions, especially open ones which start a conversation and encourage your student to think.  Remember to give your student enough time to form an answer and respond. Be prepared to wait and listen. Make sure your student knows they can ask you questions.
  • Get into the habit of praising. There will be times when you have to correct but try to find the good parts of what your student is doing.
  • Apart from teaching the subject you should find ways of teaching your student the skills they need to succeed – from essay writing, to analytical thinking and providing evidence to back up their arguments. Don’t presume a student has these skills and even if they do they can always benefit from refreshing.
  • Give structured, quality, feedback regularly both verbally and in writing. Check your student is making progress and meeting the objectives you set at the beginning of tutoring. You also need to make sure parents receive feedback as well. As well as monitoring your student you need to make sure you are doing a good job, ask for feedback from your student and parents and be prepared to take criticism on board.

If you are interested in private one to one tutoring in Manchester and Cheshire, whether you have primary, secondary, A Level or industry experience then we’d like to hear from you. You can contact us here.


2 Responses to “Be a better tutor in 2013”

  1. M J S says:

    For me tutoring science and maths is usually about these four steps:

    Firstly, identify the most important/useful next step, by asking a lot of questions and encouraging questions back.

    Secondly, and often the most challenging of all; enthuse and inspire. Side-track if you need to. Stand up, and demonstrate, pull interesting objects out of kitchen cupboards and show how they tie in as well. Book work is much easier when it relates to the real world!

    Thirdly, explain how it works, as deeply as you can, ask challenging questions that make them think, invite questions, answer questions, and every time, explain it in a different, more innovative way. Sometimes this can take a lot of backtracking, but make sure you get all the way to the bottom so it sticks.

    Fourthly, complement, praise and celebrate.

  2. Alison says:

    Thanks for the tips and for being a fantastic tutor. Our students have enjoyed working with you and will miss your tuitions – all the very best for your future ventures 🙂