While we love to offer our advice, we do strongly encourage our tutors to also do their own research into finding fruitful resources and pointers to use in their lessons.

How to prepare for your tutoring sessions

Through lessons, the tutor sets the pattern for a learning process which the student will identify with and respond to. We aim to place tutors on jobs where they will be able to strongly connect and engage with their students, but a few tips can’t hurt!

Some strategies for a successful tutoring session:

  1. Arrive a few minutes before the session is scheduled to begin and dress appropriately. If you are teaching online, make sure you are in a suitable working environment with limited or no distractions. Run a browser test before the lesson is scheduled to begin to allow you to check that your connection, camera, and microphone are all working and avoid any disruptions at the beginning of the lesson.

  2. Get to know your student by asking questions relating to student’s courses, textbooks, and academic difficulties. You may want to ask them what their favorite subjects are or what their hobbies are, etc. in order to establish and maintain a great relationship between you.

  3. Explain how sessions will work: Let the student know how each lesson will work best and how your sessions together differ from school or university lessons.

  4. Set realistic goals that your student can successfully reach during the session.

  5. Bring resources and assess their current level of study: Bringing your own resources demonstrates that you have prepared for the lesson and will work hard to help them achieve their goals.

  6. Make the student feel confident and involve your student as much as possible in the decision-making of the session. If you find that a student struggles with a lot of the content in a lesson, they could quickly become disheartened and feel tutoring isn’t for them. Be sure to have a couple of ‘easy wins’ for a student so that you are able to allow them to impress you with their knowledge.

  7. Teach them something new: Whilst lessons are primarily about finding out about the student’s level of understanding, you also need to demonstrate your ability as a tutor! Pick one of the areas your student made a mistake in and teach them this skill. Be enthusiastic. Use diagrams or notes that you can leave with them, or even consider multimedia resources.

  8. Leave some home learning: To make great progress, your students are going to have to practice the skills you teach them whilst you’re not there. Which means that you’ll need to leave them some homework.

  9. Build a rapport with the student’s parents: From the first session onward, it is vital to not only build a great rapport with the student but also with their parent(s).

Effective Tutoring Techniques

Consider employing some of these methods to position yourself and your student to win in their lessons (we also encourage you to do your own research here):

Tutoring vs. Lecturing

Sometimes it is necessary to clarify and explain a topic if the tutor finds that a student has not been introduced to a key point (or piece of information) that is necessary to understand the concept.

How to achieve this: Keep your explanations clear, minimal, and to the point. Make sure to provide the opportunity to use resources other than yourself.

Questions and Listening

It is just as important (if not more important) for the tutor to guide the student in doing most of the explaining. This will reinforce learning the student and help the tutor identify problem areas.

How to achieve this: Two of the key ingredients in guiding this successful interchange are posing questions and active listening. E.g. Ask open-ended questions. Ask probing questions. Rephrase your questions. And listen to your student’s responses.

Student Summaries

Along with listening, it is very important to encourage your student into giving a summary of what has been covered. If steps are involved in finding the solution, make sure that all steps are included (in the right order) by your student when summarizing.

How to achieve this: Use the questioning technique to guide the student to the correct answer if he/she has gotten some of the steps out of order.

Gauge Your Student’s Comprehension.

Along with student summaries, it is also important to continuously gauge your student’s level of comprehension. Do not assume knowledge on the part of the student. Start with the basics first.

How to achieve this: For visual learners, tactile learners, (those who learn by doing), or for certain types of content fields like science, you may find that a drawing or diagram is the best way to convey information.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Your students will need you to notice their successes as well as their mistakes.

How to achieve this: Reinforcements help the student have a sense of accomplishment, provide a reward, and give students an incentive to do more.

Let Your Student Do the Work

By allowing the student to have control of the process, you encourage independent learning and help the student gain confidence in their own ability and an awareness of their learning styles.

How to achieve this: Let the student look up the information in the book and draw the diagram.

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