Thursday, 3 August 2017

12. A Guide To: Student Tutoring

Over the summer and heading into the new academic year, students across the UK will be looking for other students to help tutor them in the subjects they will be studying for the next part of their education. Student tutoring is a really great job to have because it means that you can make learning for someone who was once in the same position as you and talk about the subject you love a little more each day.

But student tutoring isn't always easy. In fact to begin with, it can be quite difficult. Let me put it this way: Anyone can be a tutor. It takes someone who is determined and motivated to help their student to be successful in teaching something. You have to put their interests before your own which means slowing things down when they aren't quite understanding and wanting to improve their enjoyment of the subject in general as well as just their grades. Because of this, you will often head away from a tutoring session having learnt something yourself.

Here are my top tips for student to student tutoring:

The mind is not a vessl to be filled but a fire to be ignited - Plutarch
1. Avoid Jargon + Overcomplication

Jargon and overcomplication are the kryptonite of students everywhere, including you and me. If we don't understand something, then we have a tendency to switch off and pay attention to something more interesting. The key part of tuition is breaking all of this down and making it more understandable in a fun manner. For instance, you might begin with key words and then gradually mix them in throughout the tuition that day.

When you tutor a student, make sure that you are both on the same level - another big thing to avoid is being condescending. Instead treat them as an equal. How would you want to be tutoured in a topic if it was the other way around? Make the subject open and approachable by making your manner equally so and you will soon be communicating clearly with your student and seeing progress as a result.

2. Clear Communication

Communicate as clearly as you can. Be sure to interact by asking them if they are finding everything alright, if that makes sense and by making sure you let them know that it is ok to make mistakes. Afterall it is better to make mistakes in this environment where they can be learnt from than pretending everything is fine only to get a bad grade on an exam.

Also, if you provide them with any feedback make sure that you give them some praise as well. One of the best things about communication is that you can give two different perspectives of the same thing. So whilst yes they may have made some mistakes, be sure to praise them for what they have done well. Make sure your feedback is comprehendable too so that they can really put it into use.

3. Work At Their Pace

This fits well with the past two points in that you need to be patient. Sometimes information simply does not register immediately and it has to be learn through trial and error. If your student is not comprehending things at the rate you are working at, then make sure you slow down and go through it all again at their pace.

Use one instruction and then ask them when they are ready to move on to the next. There is usually a particular point when they will start to get lost and that is what you need to be on the lookout for. Once you spot it, try going through it several different ways before moving on. After this ask them to explain it back to you. How well someone can explain something is often how well they too understand it, which is why experts are most likely to make the best teachers etc.

Like I say, it is important to be patient and to take things slowly. Pay attention to the detail and to what they say and they will reward you with the same. It is very much about compromise in finding the right approach to progress.

4. Monitor Improvement 

Keep a register of notes for your personal use so that you can plan where to head to the following week. This will be useful for if you need to show their parents what has been taught in class as then you will both be able to contribute something to the conversation about where to head next, especially regarding students who might still be in highschool.

You might also use this for a reward scheme. In my music theory tuition, I used to be given sweets for so many correct exercises. This doesn't mean acting in a condescending fashion no matter the age of your student. This is simply a method which works well in general, especially with group tuition. Have a bowl of sweets on the table and for so many correct exercises or for contribution, they can have one sweet.

5. Exercises + Wider Reading

As with all study, it is often the case that you will need to provide some small exercises. But something I find always works well is beginning this during your time together to ensure that they definitely know how to go about beginning the work. No homework is ever efficient unless the purpose is clear, otherwise it is just a waste of paper.

Walk them through one of the exercises. For instance, if you are working on mathematics go through a few of the equations together and then ask them to solve two on their own in front of you so that you can check them before they head away with the rest of the work to complete before the next session.

And linking back to encouraging that love of a subject as well as just thier grades, be sure to suggest some wider reading which might suit their own interests. They might have mentioned pop singers once or twice meaning you could encourage them to go out and find a celebrity who is really good at maths. Hearing a role model talk about something can make it sound more interesting. Also suggest books or programmes you have enjoyed which might help the subject more accessible to them.

Thank-you for all your support and comments. It is a fantastic thing to be able to help answer any of your questions and to share my adventure with all of you. It makes my day every day! 

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