Tricks of the trade to mastering tutoring effectively

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.

4. Scheduling

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

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