One of the reasons many parents seek tuition for their children is because they are struggling in school. Whilst the more individualised support will clearly be beneficial, for many students, it is an opportunity to view education in a new, and hopefully more positive, light. Do not, therefore, simply look to recreate the classroom in their home, but be innovative and use the freedom of the situation to inspire them.
In a one-to-one setting, tuition will inherently be more child-centred, with the child leading their own learning experience to a greater extent than more teacher-led school work. Parents will also be more heavily involved in this process. The initial assessment will be vital in setting the right tone for these conversations but be sure to continually review the learning goals with parents.
For younger learners, you will be more instrumental in determining what is to be studied. Older learners will generally be able to take more control of the material to be studied, instructing you as the tutor to prepare lessons on specific topics they wish to study. That being said, even many older or more capable learners will need guidance as you will have far more proficiency in the subject and, therefore, be better placed to recommend new learning goals.
One of the most difficult things about tutoring is that, unlike school, lessons are optional and can be stopped at any time, so you will need to remain positive at all times, even when your student is failing to engage.
Make sure that lessons are being taught at the right level - too easy or too difficult lessons can lead to disengagement.
Use the student’s own interests where possible to engage them further in their learning.
Make sure that students can see the progress they are making. We’re all encouraged by rewards. This doesn’t mean ticks or sweets, but seeing our own improvement. Give students the opportunity to see how far they have come.
Take a break. If they are not concentrating fully, don’t keep pushing. Talk about something else for a couple of minutes, gradually bringing them back to their learning.
If you continue to struggle, don’t be too reluctant to ask the parent the techniques which they find work the best, or even the student’s teacher. Use these yourself.
Ask the student why they are not getting involved. Is it the style of the lesson? Is it the specific activity or is it something else…
Learners often find that the biggest barrier to learning in school is a lack of confidence. When tutoring, you will be able to go back and cover subjects normally tackled earlier in the curriculum, rebuilding the learner’s confidence. Discuss their feelings and spend time on this as an area of learning. Again, make sure that both the student and parents are happy with this focus and value its potential impact.
One of the keys in creating a positive tutor-client arrangement is ensuring that the parents are on-board with the content and teaching methods you are employing with their children. From the first session, set a tone of openness and collaboration with parents so that there is an understanding of the growth you are trying to achieve, the methodologies you are choosing to employ with the student, and the expectation that the efforts will be supported by the parents between sessions.
That being said, do your best to find ways to have these conversations outside of the time that is slated for working with the student so that the student-centric focus remains the priority.”
Jared Rand, Founder of The Knowledge Roundtable
Many learners will have labelled themselves as ‘bad’ at a subject. Carol Dweck has written extensively about creating a growth mindset whereby learners believe that even if they lack skills currently, there is no reason why they can’t acquire them in the future.
For students who have found a subject more challenging, you will need to make sure that you challenge any examples of a fixed mindset. If a learner says that they can’t do something, be sure to challenge the inherent assumption that they will never be able to do it. Make sure that you don’t overdo this and patronise students. We’ve often heard tutors say, ‘You can!’ when students clearly can’t. It’s much better to say, ‘You can’t at the moment, but we’ll get there.’
Many students who seek tuition find it difficult to ask questions in school. You will need to foster a spirit of cooperation during your sessions and encourage students to tell you what they feel has gone well and what can be improved. Build their confidence not only in the subject itself but also in asking more questions and letting you know when they don’t ‘get it.’ Explain why this helps you as a teacher improve and tailor the lessons, and talk to them about the need to do the same in school.
If you employ these tactics, we’re sure that you’ll deliver fantastic sessions and have a real impact on your students.
Always make sure that you meet your students’ requests as it is they who are paying for sessions. Instead of flatly contradicting them in pushing a new topic, it is often better to plan an activity which will allow them to see the value of that area by introducing tasks which require the missing skill. They will struggle on these tasks and then be more open to gaining your help.
Scott Woodley, CEO and Co-Founder of Tutorful
Scott is a fully qualified primary school teacher who left teaching to set up Tutorful, a site which helps parents and learners find the right tutor for them.
If you are looking to become a tutor, you can easily create a profile with Tutorful. You can set your own price, offer online or face-to-face tuition and begin building your rewarding career in no time.