We could write a book about the various knowledge and skills tutors need to be effective teachers for their students. But if we had to boil everything down to just the most important and impactful things tutors should do for their students, our list would go like this…
Listen carefully to your students
Sometimes tutors measure which areas a student needs help in by looking at work they’ve done instead of paying attention to what the student has to say. It is critical to ask students questions, then attentively listen to their responses to determine if they have underlying misunderstandings or misconceptions about the material.
Quite possibly, a student’s struggles with certain subject matter may stem from a single core concept problem. By letting the student explain the topic in their own words, tutors can diagnose the issue and perhaps offer a new perspective that leads to a breakthrough!
Constantly assess and adjust your strategy
Going hand-in-hand with the above, tutors need to consistently assess where the student is with the material, in conjunction with where they “should” be, based on predefined goals and timelines.
If a student isn’t making sufficient progress, it’s time to alter tutoring tactics. Tutors must be flexible and willing to adjust teaching strategies according to individual learners’ needs.
Be creative and flexible with learning styles
Every student has a unique learning style and a unique personality.
To be effective, savvy tutors determine the best way to reach each student via their learning style (more visual, more verbal, more written down, etc.). Tutors can next make inroads by finding things that interest their students most, then structuring lessons and activities accordingly.
To properly tailor lessons and teaching styles, tutors have to get to know their pupils better!
Students crave authentic relationships with their tutors. In turn, that rapport builds trust and enables better communication flow. These things facilitate learning in ways most students never experience in a standard school classroom.
It’s beneficial to have a strong relationship with parents, too. This allows for more honest and open talks regarding the students’ needs and projected outcomes. And, from a business perspective, it is vital to manage client expectations.
Be patient with students at all times
Students are often a bit shy about needing a tutor. They may enter into lessons with a fragile mental state, being hyper-aware of all verbal and nonverbal feedback.
Tutors, therefore, must exercise extreme patience and not cave into their own frustrations. When the student senses impatience from their tutor, at best, it can demotivate them or cause them to withdraw in embarrassment. At worst, it can cause a detrimental blow to the student’s self-esteem, making them feel like they are not “smart enough” to understand the subject matter.
Teach students how to problem-solve
It’s impossible to solve a problem if the problem isn’t clearly defined and understood in the first place.
Tutors should empower students with critical thinking skills to understand how to assess and clearly define problems. When necessary, they must also demonstrate how to break big problems down into smaller components.
Only after problems are outlined and understood should tutors help students attempt to figure out solutions.
Foster student independence
In a way, tutors essentially should be striving to make themselves unnecessary for their students!
After all, a tutor’s ultimate job is to build student knowledge, skills, and confidence levels high enough that they become self-reliant. As the old adage goes, “Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime!”