Tomorrow’s doctors, lawyers, scientists and artists are today’s children and to be able to nurture and nourish these young minds is an honourable privilege. Tutoring is a rare opportunity in having a positive impact on young individuals. It’s a special responsibility that should be carried out to the best of your ability. Here are a few tips to becoming a successful tutor:
1. Starting off on the right foot/note
When meeting learners for the first time it is important to develop a proper rapport. They need to feel comfortable enough to openly tell you where they require assistance. It is also essential to strike the right balance when it comes to making the learner comfortable and remaining rigid and in charge. The following may be helpful in your approach:
- Making small talk in the beginning always breaks the ice. Always ask the learner about their day or any tests/ tasks they mentioned to you previously. By doing this it shows that you care and also pay attention to them.
- As nice as it is to always play the good cop there comes a time where you have to make it clear to your student that you are not their friend but a mentor. The learner should not take advantage of your good nature. You are there to help them so if you have to put your foot down, do exactly that!
2. Problem areas
In addition to asking learners where their difficulties lie, also assess them as there may be problems that they, themselves, are not aware of. This does not necessarily have to be a specific topic but also simple tasks such as reading and writing. For example, a brilliant Maths student who fully understands his work, falls short due to hastily reading questions and misinterpreting them.
3. Each student is unique
Do not use the same method or style for all your learners. Always assess your learner on your first lesson, whether it’s required or not. It will give you a better indication of what would work for the learner. Pick an approach, test it out, if the learner doesn’t respond well, change your approach. Do not force your teaching style on the learner. Have an open mind and always keep the learner’s best interest in mind.
A lot of learners will not listen and plan their time table on their own. Instead of explaining how to, take a few minutes to help them actually plan it out. If you tell a learner to plan it out themselves, they view it as extra work. Let’s face it, no learner wants to do more work than they have to. Plan a schedule with them and motivate them to stick to it. You can also lead by example by implementing this in structuring your lessons. If you stick to a schedule they will follow suit.
For example, in a 1 hour lesson:
- 10 mins is dedicated to a quick revision test.
- 40 mins allocated to discussing the topic of choice
- 10 mins to homework collection and handing out new homework.
5. Challenge your learner
Continuously test pupils on previous work as well as areas they comfortable with to keep the content fresh in their minds. Learners tend to zone out sometimes, by continuously questioning them and keeping them on their toes, you are forcing them to pay careful attention to you. It is also a good way to detect which topics need more work on and is also great preparation for spot tests at school.
6. Feedback to parents
It’s vital to keep parents updated so that they can also step in when the need arises. Tutors usually put all their attention on the learners and forget about the parent’s role in all of this. Parents are naturally concerned about their children, reassurance from you will take a weight of their shoulders. They are entrusting you with their child’s future, so the least you can do is keep them in the loop. Express your concerns and approach with them, sometimes they can help enforce certain rules or behaviours that would be beneficial for the student.
Tutoring is more than just passing down knowledge, you are playing the role of not only a teacher but also a role model. Every student is not going to be obedient and easy to work with, you are going to come across a few who push your buttons and make you question what you do. When that time comes, remember that you have the ability to shape the student into a better human being. It is a major responsibility so always give it your 100%, never give up, and remember the difference you making in their lives.
If you want to become a BrightSparkz tutor, find out more here.
Written by Nirvana Rampershad, BrightSparkz Tutor & Guest Blogger
BrightSparkz was established in 2007 by 3 university students who saw a need for private tutoring. 12 years later, BrightSparkz has branches in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria, and offers online tutoring countrywide. From offering tutoring for a few school subjects, BrightSparkz now offers tutoring for all school and university subjects, adult languages, Language Boot Camps (Afrikaans, Zulu, French and more in the pipeline), Concessions Facilitators (readers, scribes, prompters and invigilators), a Study Skills Crash Course, location tutoring and childminding on film sets, and more!
The directors, Amy Stockwell and Dominique Oebell, are women with a big plan: to be recognised by schools, universities, parents, and students across South Africa as the “go-to” and “gold standard” for quality tutoring and learning support, and as the learning company that has provided the most amazing opportunities for learners, tutors, and edu-professionals.
In support of this goal, they have launched Project 10 000. This project is committed to donating 10 000 tutoring hours to learners who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford educational support, over 3 years.
In addition to this, BrightSparkz is a certified Level 4 BEE contributor, and is committed to improving opportunities for young women in South Africa.
How we’re making a difference to women
- 70% of BrightSparkz tutors and concessions facilitators readers and scribes) are women, most of them still in university
- 100% of BrightSparkz permanent staff are women, and 86% of these are young women (under the age of 40)
- BrightSparkz is also 100% female-owned – read more about the Brains Behind BrightSparkz here
- We place a large focus on tutoring STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and recruits female tutors in these fields to tutor and act as mentors for younger learners (read more about STEM here)
- BrightSparkz is also committed to recognizing the differences in the difficulties faced by our male and female students (read more on how ADD/ADHD affects girl students differently here)
- For the last few years, BrightSparkz has been partnered with several foundations that provide sponsored tutoring to female students exclusively
- Approximately 70% of our Project 10 000 sponsored learners are female!
Written by Tessa Cooper, BrightSparkz Staff & Occasional Blog Contributor