Being an expert and very knowledgeable in a subject does not necessarily mean that someone is good at imparting that knowledge to a student and being an effective tutor. A good tutor needs many different skills.
When contacting a client for the first time, a tutor needs to be prepared to provide details of his/her academic background and include previous tutoring experience.
It is important that as much information about the student and their studies can be gained to give the tutor an idea of whether or not he or she can help. These are some of the questions which may need to be asked:
- Why does the student require tuition, what are their areas of difficulty and what are their aims?
- If the student is having difficulties in specific academic areas what advice, if any, has been given by their teacher?
- Is the intention to have a set number of lessons for the student or review their progress over time?
- What would be the best period of time for the sessions? Most last an hour but for older students 1½ or 2 hour sessions can be more beneficial?
- Where would be best for the tuition to take place?
- If appropriate, would short homework tasks be welcomed?
Before the Lesson
- Lesson preparation - know the objectives of the lesson beforehand and have a plan in place for what you intend teaching. Spend time in preparing resources if required. Revise the subject if you haven't taught that area for a while and be prepared to learn something new.
- Start time - Arrive promptly and always ensure you have the clients telephone number so you can provide a warning if you may be delayed.
- Dress - you are a professional so dress appropriately.
- Safety - we always recommend that a parent/guardian is at home while tuition takes place and that the study room door is left open.
- Fun and Enjoyment and Encouragement - bear in mind students are receiving tuition because they are requiring help in a subject where they can improve and some will find the content of the lessons difficult. Try to help the student feel relaxed and that they are succeeding. Make the lessons enjoyable but whilst remaining productive.
- Avoid lectures - listening is one of the greatest skills of any teacher as it will help you to analyse any misconceptions or gaps in understanding that the student may possess.
- Question - different kinds of questioning have very different effects on learners and again can help a tutor to understand where difficulties may lie.
- Review - often it is helpful to briefly review what you learned in your previous tutoring session.
- Concentrate - stay focused on the task in hand and do not drift off into irrelevant conversation.
- Feedback - provide the student (and their parents/guardians if appropriate) with feedback of the lesson. Make it positive where possible and suggest potential future aims.
- Next steps - suggest what the student could do to help with his/her studies prior to the next lesson.
- Timing - agree a day and time of the next lesson and make a note yourself.
- Objectives - discuss and agree with the student the lesson objectives for the next lesson.