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What Makes a Good Tutor

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    What makes a good tutor? Many qualities make up a successful tutor, but here are the most important ones. First, a good tutor has to be able to communicate well with their students and know how to help them learn what they need. 

    They also have to be committed and available for tutoring sessions, which means they should work at least part-time as a tutor. Finally, your potential tutor must be knowledgeable about the subject matter you're studying or learning so that they can answer questions you may have. 

    Just as there are many types of tutors, there are also many different reasons why someone might want or need a tutor. For example, some people may want more time to focus on their schoolwork, while others may have experienced trauma that makes learning difficult or emotionally challenging. 

    Regardless of the reason, everyone deserves an opportunity to learn and grow with the help of a caring tutor who wants them to succeed just as much as they do!

    It can be difficult to know how to teach someone something or what lesson plan works for them. For example, some people learn better by reading, and others are more hands-on learners. 

    The best way to find out what type of learner you are is by researching the subject matter that interests you. Once you have done your research, then it's time to begin looking for a tutor who matches your learning style and needs!

    What Makes A Good Tutor

    For many parents trying to choose the right tutor, it can be a bit like choosing a car if you've never driven one before. You know you want one that's 'good', but it can be a bit confusing knowing how to judge what makes one good or not. 

    Although there's plenty of 'user-friendly' advice resources that first-time car buyers can find online, finding someone to help you know how to choose the best tutor is a lot more difficult, even though the tutor you choose for your son or your daughter may well be a far more important decision that impacts their future than most others you will have to make. 

    Your child's tutor is, after all, not just another teacher; they will be your son or daughters own personal role model. For this reason, it is important to know what makes a good tutor.

    Why It's So Important To Choose the Right Tutor

    Whether our kids are struggling with their confidence or just struggling with everything, parents who know their children well know full well that their attitude towards their schoolwork will have the biggest impact on their performance. And the attitude they establish is largely determined by their surroundings.

    You know how the class they are in at school has a big impact on how well they perform? A different teacher and a different group of classmates can make a big difference sometimes. Well, consider that when we're talking about a private one-on-one tutor, the difference here can be even bigger. 

    Get a tutor who does not understand the way your child learns best, who makes each lesson boring or tedious and does not make learning specifically relevant to your child. The overall experience will be a negative one.

    So if your son or daughter has already established a negative feel towards the areas they need more help, then this is the last thing you want. So when you are looking to find a good tutor, make sure you get one who has the ability to change the way your child thinks about and positively feels towards their schoolwork, however, and the rest will fall into place from there.

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    Are They A Teacher Or Just A Student?

    Just like a first-time car buyer might be looking for a car "that goes fast", or that is the right colour, many parents who are uncertain what to look for in a good tutor make the same common assumptions. 

    The most common one is that a classroom school teacher makes the best tutor. However, whilst a classroom teacher certainly would have the right experiences and understandings about learning and classroom curriculum, not all school teachers make a good tutor, and not all great tutors are school teachers. 

    It's a bit like the confused car owner looking for something safe, who buys a 4WD with the assumption that being a 4WD automatically makes it safer. In may be, but not necessarily. Having a better idea of what personal attributes to look for would put you in a far better position to make the right decision.

    Personality - A Good Tutor Is a People Person

    The most important personal qualities of a good tutor is the ability to communicate in a way that makes the learner feel motivated, enthusiastic and confident in their ability to master and enjoy whatever challenges come along. In other words, a good tutor must have good people skills, particularly when it comes to making learning fun and interesting for young students.

    They must be able to explain complicated concepts in a way that 'makes sense' to their student and must be able to inspire their student to want to engage in what they are learning. No matter the tutors’ qualifications, work experience, or job title, they will fail your child if they cannot do that.

    Whilst many school teacher's and highly qualified professions are great at doing this, we have not found any significant correlation between these personal attributes and any specific qualifications. Instead, we do find significant correlations between these attributes and specific personality traits. 

    For that reason, a good tutoring company will look at a tutors communication style and personality, not just the degrees they hold or the marks they achieved at school or university.

    Should I Just Find Someone Privately?

    You might be able to find a tutor who works in a 'sole trader' role in your local area. Just as buying a car from a private sale might be a bit cheaper than getting one through a reputable dealer with a warranty, finding someone operating as an individual for cash in hand jobs might be cheaper too, however, there is also much less certainty about the reliability of who you're getting.

    If you are going to find someone this way, it is still important to find out if they follow the above criteria by asking them what their approach to tuition is specifically. Depending on how much you value legitimacy and legal requirements, you might also wish to make sure that they have passed a working with children check, hold a valid liability insurance policy and that they're willing to provide you with invoices and other legitimate paperwork.

    As a general rule, finding a good tutor is always better and more reliable to find a tutor employed by a reputable company. Therefore, the question that parent's want answered is how to know whether a particular company really does provide a good quality service or whether they just look good on the surface. The following gives you some guidelines to know what to look for when trying to find a good tutor.

    How to Differentiate A Good Tutoring Company From A Dud

    The first way to tell is to have a look at their recruitment process, by pretending as though you are looking for work with that company as a tutor. Which criteria do they emphasise as being the most important? Do they seem more preoccupied with things that can be quantified on a piece of paper or attributed that are qualified in a personality?

    The second thing is to make sure that the company provides specific training to their tutors and stipulates that their tutors follow a specified approach. If they don't, then basically all the company is doing is acting as a middleman whilst sending you out a tutor to do whatever the tutor pleases. This is kind of like buying a car without knowing anything about the car that you're being sold, other than that, it's a car that has passed the dealerships standards.

    This is actually a common problem you will find among tutoring companies. They often do not provide specific training or required procedures to their tutors because the tutors are often subcontractors rather than employees. 

    A company can't really require a subcontractor to follow company rules the same way an employee must. Subcontractors are cheaper to provide work to, which is why many tutoring companies do it this way. 

    For this reason, always ask whether the tutor is an employee or a subcontractor and if they are an employee; what kind of training to they receive, and what kind of standards does the company require them to adhere to? If the company is confident in their own standards, they should have no problem providing you with specific details and their beliefs about what makes a good tutor.

    What Standards Are Important For a Tutoring Company?

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    Specific Curriculum: Many tutoring companies have their own curriculum that their tutors must follow, irrespective of what areas the student needs specific help with and what the student is doing at school during class. 

    This approach can be like ‘ cross training’ for students who are already achieving top marks at class and want to extend their skills. However, for students struggling in particular areas and who want to do better in class, this approach tends to be confusing and overwhelm the student.

    For this reason, make sure that the company specifies that their tutors take steps to ensure that they find our specifically what your child is doing in class and follow their classroom curriculum. Make sure they also take steps to find out what your child needs specific help with and is flexible enough to be able to focus on those areas. This is one of the most important qualities of a good tutor.

    Communication with School: The most effective way of doing this is when the tutor actually takes steps to communicate with the child's teacher(s) at school. If your tutor is able to form a good rapport with your child's school teacher, it is a great way to bridge the gap of communication between the home and the school. 

    It helps the tutor know specifically what is going on in the classroom. If there are particular areas that your child's school teacher knows they need more assistance with that they do not have time for, they can just tell their tutor who can give them the added assistance they really need.

    Because this is such a critical part of good tuition, you should not only insist that your child's tutor is willing to communicate with your child's school teacher but that they are willing to initiate communication.

    No Locked Contracts: If you are not happy with your tutor, you should be under no obligation to continue with them and only be charged for the lessons you have already had. Any company who wants to charge you upfront fees or lock-in contracts should be avoided. If the company knows that their employees are great tutors, there should be no need to do this.

    Focus on Specific Skills: Ask about what specific skills the company's employees are required to focus on. For example, do they focus on computer skills as well as no computer skills, or is it only one or the other? Do they focus on specific confidence-building strategies, or will they treat your child as an emotionless robot? 

    Do they also provide an opportunity to focus on assessment skills, higher-order thinking skills and autonomous learning skills? Do they specifically aim to find out what kind of learning styles your child is strongest in, or do they treat everyone as though they are the same?

    Additional Support: A good tutoring company does more than just provide parents with a tutor. A good tutoring company cares about understanding each parent’s specific concerns and aims to empower parents to know what they can do to support their children's learning needs. 

    Check their website to see if they have a login section for parents and find out what additional resources and support services they provide for parents specifically, or are they just a middleman?

    Golden Rules for Being a Good Tutor

    • Be honest. This helps to establish rapport and trust, the two most critical elements to a successful tutoring relationship.
    • Be flexible. This means being willing to adjust techniques and approaches to meet the learning styles of the student.
    • Be patient. What is obvious or easy for you may not be so for your student. Learn not to show annoyance in your speech or body language.
    • Be a good listener. Learn to pick up clues in your student’s speech that enable you to understand how he is really feeling. A good listener does not dominate the conversation!
    • Be professional. Except for discussing your student with SSS staff and/or faculty, information about the student must be kept confidential.
    • Be willing to share your own experiences. By sharing information about what you have encountered, the student may feel relieved that he is not alone. Sharing experiences and lessons learned goes a long way toward building trust and support. It also helps the student build self-confidence.
    • Be a collaborator. The tutor-student relationship should be viewed as a partnership. You are not there to take the place of the instructor. Instead, let the student know you are there to work with her to supplement classroom and individual study.
    • Teach the student how to learn. As a tutor, your ultimate goal is to help the student become an independent learner.
    • Be confident. You were chosen for qualities that enable you to be a good tutor and role model. However, having confidence also means having the courage to admit you don’t know an answer. Be honest with your student; tell her you’ll need to do your homework? and then follow through. She may actually feel better knowing you’re not perfect (and it is a great opportunity to teach learning skills).
    • Use available resources. The SSS staff is here to help. Let us know if there are problems with the tutoring relationship or problems affecting your student’s performance.

    Tips to Make Tutoring Sessions Fun

    At this point in the year, Students have an opportunity to look back at their experience thus far and think about what’s working and what’s not. Many students determine that it might be time to get some extra help from a tutor and really hone in on being successful on that one difficult subject that’s still holding them back. 

    Whether it’s a third-grader who needs help with math or a high school student who needs to refine their personal organization skills, tutoring can offer students an opportunity for a one-on-one experience to improve their academic life. 

    However, many kids think of tutoring as something that is not very fun, so they avoid it. However, tutoring sessions can be a lot of fun if the student, tutor, and parent work together.

    Create The Setting

    The first thing the student and tutor can do is create an atmosphere that makes tutoring more enjoyable. Maybe a young student sits on a beanbag chair instead of their desk, or perhaps they can write with their favourite glitter pen. 

    Classrooms have so many rules that it can make learning less exciting than it really is. Of course, these rules are there for a reason and help maintain order in the classroom, but there’s a lot more flexibility when kids are working in a one-on-one situation. If it’s a nice day, perhaps tutoring can occur in the backyard. 

    Maybe a student needs a little bit of background music to concentrate and block out any other noises in the house. Each student is an individual, and it’s important they create a setting that works specifically for them.

    Ask The Student To Teach The Tutor

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    Although this seems counterintuitive, students really like to lead the session if they are at the right maturity level. Students spend most of their time listening during the school day and may not get to participate as much as they want, especially if they are in a larger classroom.

    However, during an in-home tutoring session, they have the opportunity to be the leader from time to time. For example, they can teach the tutor about a new topic they’ve learned at school, or they can talk about their favourite hobby. 

    When students can explain a topic to somebody else, they demonstrate that they have completely mastered the material. For example, if a student is struggling with long division, they should actually teach this to the tutor. Once they can do this, they know they have become incredibly successful at the skill they’ve been working on.

    Choose Topics The Student Is Really Interested In

    Many students work on reading or writing with their after-school tutor. They should talk to their tutor about subjects they would like to read about or learn how to do. If the tutor chooses the right reading passages, the student is more likely to be successful because they are reading something they love or are curious about. Students tend to zone out quickly when they read about dry topics, so an inherent interest in a topic is essential.

    Take Adequate Breaks

    Students also need to take adequate breaks because nothing is fun when they’re overly tired. Before commencing a tutoring session, students should make sure they’ve had a little bit of time to run around and get out extra energy, as well as have a snack if they’re hungry. If younger students are working for longer than an hour, they should plan a five-minute break to relax and refocus.

    Encourage Open And Honest Communication

    Students should also focus on open communication with their in-home tutors. For example, ifSo, for the session is moving too quickly or slowly or if the material is overwhelming, the student should let the tutor know right away. The more the tutor knows about the student’s learning process, the more they will be able to adjust the session to the student’s individual needs.

    • Patience. Patience, the ability to remain calm and respectful, is an essential skill for tutors. ...
    • Positivity. Having a positive attitude can make the difference between a motivated student and an unmotivated student. ...
    • Empathy. ...
    • Confidentiality. ...
    • Technical knowledge. ...
    • Active listening. ...
    • Communication. ...
    • Leadership.
    Tutor duties and responsibilities
    • Reviewing classroom or curricula topics and assignments.
    • Assisting students with homework, projects, test preparation, papers, research and other academic tasks.
    • Working with students to help them understand key concepts, especially those learned in the classroom.

    They taught me patience, compassion, and they opened my mind to a whole new type of culture as well as way of life. The things I learned while tutoring also reflected back onto what I learned throughout my first classes on the foundations of education.

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