Twenty Tips For New Tutors (Part I)


Individualized, private teaching can be a daunting but rewarding new challenge for prospective tutors.  Tutoring allows you to optimize learning and understanding in a way that usually can’t be achieved in a conventional classroom.  After years of tutoring and teaching students of every academic level in several subjects across four states, here are some of my pieces of advice for a tutor who is just starting – are you a student? Book your private Anaheim tutor today.

Only Tutor What You Know Well

Just because you took a class, or even got an ‘A’ in a class, does not mean you are suitable to tutor it.  You should be able to consistently answer nearly any question that your student has about the subject; so, if the class is something you took three years ago and you don’t remember the material, then you shouldn’t be tutoring it. Try finding an online final or practice test and take it yourself to check if you know the material.

Ask to See Material Beforehand

Even if you are an expert on the subject, you will find as a tutor that each teacher will teach a class differently; they have their priorities, expectations, and grading styles.  To help you adjust to this and make sure you are prepared to help, you should always ask that the student send you some of their class materials or current progress (homework, previous graded tests/quizzes, finished diagnostics or practice tests, rubrics or a syllabus, etc.).  This is especially useful before the first lesson.

Know the Goals of Your Client

Different students (or their parents) are looking for different things out of tutoring.  They might want to understand what’s going on in class and how it applies to life.  They might need to have a strong foundation to take more advanced classes in the future. They might only want to pass the class to fulfill the requirement and don’t care about the material.  They might want to guarantee that they get an ‘A’ by the end of the semester.  They might need to be aiming for a certain score on a test.  Whatever the case, ask them what they are looking to get out of tutoring so you can tailor your lessons accordingly.

Watch Them Do Work

It can be easy to end up lecturing and explaining answers yourself without your student doing the work.  Often, a student might nod, or agree, or say they understand while you teach or show an example.  However, you need to make sure that they understand and can replicate what you are teaching them on their own.  Make sure you are stopping often enough to give them work to do on their own to make sure they’re keeping up.

Time-Intensive Work Should Be Outside Tutoring Hours

You may want to give practice tests, or extra practice problems, or have your student write a short essay as part of your learning.  You should try to keep these tasks outside of your tutoring lessons.  No one wants to give a lot of homework as a tutor, but paid private tutoring also shouldn’t include an hour of you just sitting and watching the student do work on their own.  Use tutoring time to review and check the material that you had them complete before you arrived.  It can also be an excellent way to keep them focused and on schedule if you don’t see them more than once a week.

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Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

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