A tutor provides expertise, experience, and encouragement.
They do not provide “answers,” but rather assist in problem solving, in getting answers.
The challenge is to focus on assignments within the context they are assigned.
Tutors should not be expected to diagnose learning disabilities.
Diagnosis should take place outside of the tutoring process by a professional academic counselor. If a larger problem becomes apparent, referral is the best strategy.
Seek out training to be a more effective tutor:
This includes subject matter as well as the tutoring procedures
Clearly establish expectations for your learner
What are the expectations of the learner?
of the teacher? and of those close to the learner
(classmates, department, school, family, etc.)
Keep and follow a consistent set of rules
Write them down; post them; refer to them!
Rules are necessary, but must be mutually agreed upon with the learner.
They must be fair and enforced consistently.
Rules cut down on unnecessary struggles.
Have a clear idea of your own strengths and limitations,
and what skills or knowledge you can offer as a tutor.
One reward of tutoring is the opportunity to use and apply what you have learned
Know the learner
Discover his or her strengths and challenges in learning.
Under what circumstances does he or she learn best? poorly?
(Do not assume that everyone’s learning styles or conditions are the same,
or similar to yours)
Build a relationship and trust.
- Be aware of the differences between you and the learner.
You are not trying to change the learner, but to accommodate and use their learning style(s) in order to complete the tasks.
Since you are more experienced,
it is your challenge to adjust, adapt, or find a way
- Be open and honest
Sarcasm and condescension are not productive.
We do not tutor to impress, but rather to help.
- Do not be afraid to acknowledge
that the chemistry between you and the learner isn’t right,
and that another tutor might be more effective.
The goal is to help, not endure
Make sure the learner knows it is safe to not succeed at first
Learning is a process that often involves unsuccessful attempts.
This is not failure since options are eliminated toward the correct solution.
Learning and problem solving require passing through a period of sorting through facts and options toward success.
The Tutoring Session
Listen closely to work out the real problem
Check to see if the learner has prepared with some time and effort
and attempted the assignments
Assess the situation
Think in terms of realistic objectives; develop a “contract” of
- agreed upon learning outcomes
- expectations of communication
(availability, one/several sessions;
means of communication (face-to-face, e-mail, telephone, etc.)
Use questions to enhance problem solving
Demonstrate or model similar processes
Don’t be afraid to reveal that you don’t know something
You can refer the learner to more sources, including the teacher
You can take the opportunity to learn/problem-solve, and bring back answers,
and demonstrate that you are in a learning process as well
Give positive feedback, use encouraging vocabulary
Find success, and reinforce effort, in even minor accomplishment
Summarize and review: Enable follow up
Keep records for future reference
Five Steps to Being an Effective Tutor
Step One: Know what is Expected of You as a Tutor
Tutoring is the process of getting students to become independent through questioning. Tutoring should help students develop self-confidence and improve study skills. In addition, the tutoring session should provide students with an opportunity to speak up and ask questions, an opportunity sometimes unavailable or missed in a regular classroom situation.
Tutoring is a well-balanced question/information exchange in which both parties participate and, therefore, both benefit. Tutoring provides the practice and drill in specific course material needed by the student, while giving the tutor valuable review opportunities and the chance to develop and sharpen educational and communication skills.
Tutoring is not teaching. There are important differences between the role of the tutor and that of the classroom teacher. Approaches, relationships, and techniques are different. The tutor works in very close proximity with the student, usually one-on-one. The student may not be accustomed to the close contact and the interchange that occurs during a tutoring session. The tutor may have to consciously strive to develop a good rapport with the student within this environment.
Step Two: Setting Up the Tutoring Session
It is important to shape the tutoring environment. This can be difficult in the busy LRC; however, if you follow these simple procedures, you will have a successful session.
- Prepare yourself for the tutoring session
- Prepare a greeting and review expectations
- Be prepared for potential problems
Step Three: Meeting Your Student’s Needs
Assess the student’s understanding of the subject by asking questions. Determine the student’s need for them to succeed in the subject. Strategies will vary, but do remember to engage the student. Try not to lecture and attempt to use:
- Use good questioning techniques
- Positive ways of correcting students
- Positive problem solving
Step Four: The Ingredients of a Good Tutoring Session
The following are some of the necessary ingredients for a good session:
- Greet your Student and give them your undivided attention
- Have empathy with your Student’s problems
- Be honest with your client
- Set the Agenda
- Have a sense of humor
- Have the ability to “lighten up” a situation
- Have a good interaction with your Student, a good give-and-take
- Know your Student’s strengths and weaknesses
- Work through your Student’s strengths to improve his/her weaknesses
- Make your Student feel good about him/herself and his/her accomplishments
- Know when to stop a session
- End the session on a positive note
Step Five: Ending the Tutoring Session
Do not just say “good-bye” when the session is over. You should:
- Positively assess the work that was done during the session
- Re-schedule for another session if necessary
- Do any necessary tutor paperwork
Always end the session with a positive comment