Twenty Tips for New Tutors (Part IV)
Grades Shouldn’t Be a Big Surprise
You shouldn’t be crossing your fingers that a student will do well on their upcoming test. If you’ve been seeing them long enough to prepare for it, then you should give them practice quizzes or tests and grade them yourself to see how they’re doing. Whether the practice test is something you found online, questions you’ve made yourself, or just a few selected examples for their textbook, it usually isn’t hard to come up with material to test your student’s knowledge before an exam. This way, you and the student will have an idea where they’re at before going to take the real thing.
Learn Their Teacher’s Style
After seeing some of your student’s graded assignments from their class, you should be able to get a good idea of what their teacher is looking for. Maybe they’re a huge stickler for vocab, or they require every equation to be memorized. Maybe they put more of an emphasis on style and sentence variety rather than spelling in grammar. Perhaps correct significant figures determine a large part of their grade. Maybe they don’t care about the final answer as long as the work is correct and neat. All of these situations could be the opposite, and there are many other styles and priorities that teachers have. Recognize what your student’s teacher is looking for early so that you can make your practice lessons more similar to their expectations.
Stay in Touch
Staying in touch with your client will help you build a better relationship and keep them feeling more satisfied with your commitment. This could mean following up to see how they did on a test, checking in to see what new classes they might be taking, or being available to help with simple questions via text or email outside of tutoring hours. Your level of involvement outside of working tutoring hours is up to you, but staying in touch more with your students tends to lead to better success for both student and tutor.
Don’t Let Tutoring Become Homework Time
Helping with homework and assignments is a large and vital, part of most tutoring. However, if you are regularly seeing a student, your tutoring should not just be you going through each week’s new homework assignment with them. At worst, you should transition them to doing the homework before you arrive so that you can focus on only the problems they didn’t understand or got wrong. At best, they can complete the homework on their own so you can quickly check it if needed and focus on additional practice and lessons during the tutoring. There is nothing wrong with helping with homework, but regular tutoring should be more than just a tool for a student to use to get their homework done easily via professional help.
Get Them Talking
Many students will be quiet, shy, or just unwilling to open up about their struggles in class. A very important quality in a tutor is being charismatic and friendly enough to help these students feel comfortable opening up to you. Don’t turn a tutoring lesson into a long casual chat, but also don’t be so cold that you only focus on the academic work. If a student isn’t comfortable talking to you, then it will be harder for you to know when they are confused and when they aren’t paying attention.
Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.