Twenty Tips for New Tutors Part Five
Go Back to Easier Concepts When Necessary
There is nothing wrong with a high school student that doesn’t know how to add two fractions or doesn’t understand when they need to use a comma. Many key, basic topics can be easily missed if a student had a bad teacher or a difficult time with a topic. Unfortunately, their current teachers are unlikely to go back and review earlier or easier materials for each student that needs them. As a private Irvine tutor, you should take the chance to help them practice any easier concepts that they need to know – even if they “should already know it” or it should be “too easy.”
Use Positive Reinforcement and Motivation
Students who need tutoring often lack confidence in the subject you are tutoring them in or are unsatisfied with their current performance. Low self-esteem can be a detriment to their performance and enjoyment of a subject, and you should do your best to improve it. Help them feel good when they do something well or when they understand a difficult topic and don’t ever put them down for having a hard time with something. A student should never be made to feel stupid when it’s your job to help them.
Don’t Balk When Something Isn’t “the Way I Learned It”
Classes and teaching methods grow and evolve. Teachers also all have their preferred methods and styles. Don’t be constrained to doing everything the way that you learned it. Just because it worked for you doesn’t make it better than the way their teacher is doing it. Now, you can still teach things a different way to see what works best for your student, but don’t shut down a method just because you’re unfamiliar with it. Take the opportunity to learn something new yourself.
Stay on the Same Page with the Parents
You may spend most of your time teaching and speaking with a student. But, if it was the student’s parents who hired you, you should also make sure that you are keeping them updated. You should be aware of their expectations as well – it isn’t unheard of for a parent to blame the tutor is the student performs poorly on a test or in a class. Combat this by keeping them updated on what you’re doing, how the student is progressing, and what their reasonable expectations should be.
I find it damaging to my pride as an educator when a student asks a question that I don’t know the answer to. If I’m supposed to be the expert in the subject that I am teaching them, then to me, that means that I should be able to have most of the correct answers on demand confidently. There’s nothing wrong with needing to google something every once in a while, but you should not always be telling a student that you “don’t remember” how to do something or that you “never learned that.”
And those are a few of the many pieces of advice that I’ve garnered from my experience teaching and tutoring. You will keep improving as you gain more experience and begin to hone your teaching style, but don’t be afraid to use some of these tips to help you get started.
Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.