Twenty Tips For New Tutors (Part II)
Use Official Practice Material When Possible
Barron’s and Peterson’s and Kaplan and many, many more third-party companies supply their own study materials for standardized tests and common class subjects. You might find some of these materials to have an exceptional quality that is very helpful for your situation. Unfortunately, this is not often the case. There is a lot of money for these groups that sell new additions of all of their preparation products each year to desperate students, and I’ve found many cases of even the more popular names utilizing unethical practices in their material (such making diagnostic tests too hard to make you think you need more help, teaching too much material to pad extra pages or note cards, and purposefully grading material too harshly to guarantee that real test scores are an improvement). Do yourself a favor and avoid the risk by finding any official study material that is from the same company that makes the test you are preparing for – book your private Costa Mesa tutor from TutorNerds.
Teach with Variety and Find What Works
You are likely aware that many people lean more dominantly towards a typical type of learning style. The most commonly heard types are “visual learnings,” “auditory learners,” and “physical learners.” These reference students who do best by seeing something done, hearing it explained and doing it themselves, respectively. In practice, I find that students don’t often fall into such simple, cookie-cutter categories, but it is important to vary your style and use a variety of methods until you find what works best for each student. Don’t be afraid to use new tactics like drawing pictures, having students re-teach examples back to you, or creating fun mnemonics to help them learn.
Go Back and Check Old Material
I find reviewing previous lessons to be essential for any subject that will have a cumulative test, or that will lead to sequential classes. This means that I will keep track of what we are learning each week, and I will periodically quiz them with a few questions from everything we’ve learned so far. This will help make sure they retain the important information (it is easier to learn it and do some practice to maintain the knowledge rather than learning, forgetting, then relearning), and it will get them used to take impromptu cumulative assignments that cover a variety of topics.
If You Know What’s Important, Focus on It
If you are teaching math to an 8th grader getting ready for high school, you have the distinct advantage of knowing exactly what that 8th grader will ultimately learn in high school math classes. This means you also know what material won’t be important for high school. Use this knowledge to review and expand their knowledge in the areas that will help them the most in the future. Don’t jeopardize their success in their current class because you are teaching them things for the future, but you should emphasize the important topics whenever possible. I also find that students tend to focus more when I tell them which things will be important for next year.
Get Them Ahead When Possible
Similar to the previous point, you should be using any extra time to get your student ahead in their studies. Students consistently come back to me pleased when they go over something in class that we had already practiced and got a head start on. This is because they will likely do well on the topic in class, thus boosting their confidence and helping them feel smarter in school because they are better at the topic. Getting a student ahead has many benefits, but I’ve found the most important are the benefits to their confidence and their overall enjoyment of the subject; everyone likes to be good at something and better than their peers.
Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.