You've decided to start tutoring and are giving your first private in-home lesson — that's great!
Your mind must be full of questions:
- How do I prepare a tutoring session?
- What's the best way to help students?
- What do I do to establish a great working environment?
Whether you're hired to help students review their schoolwork, or whether it's to help someone prepare for a difficult and important test, there are certain pieces of advice to keep in mind.
By the end of this article, you'll be ready to dive right into tutoring, so let's go!
Make Students Feel at Ease During Tutoring
The first point is an obvious one: be punctual! Arriving late to your first lesson will undermine your credibility even you turn out to be an excellent tutor!
Bear in mind that your student is your client, and that they're paying you for a service. Punctuality is a part of that.
A tip from Superprof: if you arrive late, offer to make it up by staying late at the end. And while you're on your way, don't make it worse by speeding in your car. Pull over for a moment to call your client to explain that you'll be late and apologize. You'll remove some of the stress and appear more professional.
Find best practices on how to tutor.
One you arrive (on time of course) how do you organize your tutoring session?
For the very first lesson with a student, it's essential to identify their needs, as well as their objectives:
- Which subject(s) are posing problems? Math in general? Algebra? Geometry?
- Do they need to pass an exam at the end of the semester or year?
- What is their existing understanding of the material?
- Since when have they been having trouble keeping up?
For academic tutoring to be effective, you need to create personalized lessons for each of your students. In fact, when parents hire private tutors, the understanding is that the lessons are unique to their child's specific needs.
Why would it be a bad idea to give identical lessons to Tom, who's 15 years old, on Monday, and to Leah, who's also 15, on Tuesday?
Simply because Tom and Leah are two different students, with two different ways of thinking, and two different personalities!
The key word is tailored!
Join the conversation: what are the differences between in-person and online tutoring?
In-Home Tutoring: The 4 Advantages of Face-to-Face Sessions
Private, face-to-face tutoring boasts 4 advantages when compared to lessons done via webcam.
- Physical presence is important. Even if you use the best webcam on the market, nothing compares to a teacher sitting right next to a student to help explain complex grammar, or draw a geometric figure in the middle of a math lesson, or even map out an electrical circuit in a physics lesson. It's much easier to create a natural back-and-forth exchange if you're sitting face-to-face.
- It will be much easier to confirm that your student is understanding what you're explaining if you're sitting next to each other than on the other side of a computer screen.
- Without side-by-side instruction, it will be much harder for your students to concentrate on their lesson or coursework.
- Having a professor there to get involved, explain things, and help them find solutions to problems can help students maintain and improve their motivation.
In terms of the best attitude to develop, nothing is gained by being either too authoritarian or too friendly with your students.
You are there private tutor, don't forget that!
Take the time to establish the proper tone. It's important that your young students understand that you are there to help them make progress and that there's no shame in taking tutoring classes. Just the opposite, it's proof of an intelligent approach to life and maturity to recognize weaknesses and seek out help!
Look into your students' eyes regularly. This instills a sense of confidence and creates additional support for the overall educational process.
To be a great tutor, certain advantageous characteristics are needed. Superprof looks for the following in its tutors:
- A knack for communication
- A love for human interaction
- Understanding of psychology
- Ability to adjust quickly
- Excellent organizational skills
- Strong work ethic
And these are just a few.
Do you see yourself in this list? Bravo! You're ready to become a tutor!
You may want to know more advantages of tutoring students in their home...
Organizing a One-Hour Tutoring Session in 4 Steps
There is no perfect recipe to help your organize a successful tutoring session, because each student differs in terms of learning style and approach, and in terms of how the absorb information. Everything comes into play.
Below is one suggestion for in-home tutoring, one lasting 1 hour, which you can use as a basis to inspire your plan:
- Dedicate the first 10 minutes to reviewing the materials from the previous session and ask your student if there are any points they don't understand and want to review.
- Go over the notes your student took during their class at school and make sure they understand the key points of those lessons (15-20 minutes). Review the fundamental ideas with them to make sure everything is understood.
- Take 20 minutes to do some exercises with them, either their assigned homework or something made by you.
- Use the last 10 minutes of class to review these exercises, their class homework, or even exams, taking time to go over mistakes to understand them.
At the end of each tutoring session, you can also give your students supplementary homework, one more way to verify that they're making the necessary progress.
Testimonials from Our Private Tutors
Daniel is a math teacher. Since 2004, he has been a full-time tutor, offering in-home lessons, and he's found many students with Superprof.
He's decided to give tutoring sessions exclusively at his students' homes, and never via webcam.
He explains his choice:
For subjects like math and chemistry, I prefer human interaction. I want to be able to have direct access to their notes and textbooks, to verify their grasp of the materials, and to oversee their organizational skills. It's for these reasons that I made the decision to offer tutoring sessions exclusively face-to-face, in my students' homes.
Sebastian is a graduate of M.I.T. and a research statistician. But this Boston-based tutor has discovered his true calling in "making math accessible to children." Since he began, he's never stopped improving his approach and his tutoring lessons in math to students of all levels, from grammar school all the way through high school, and even text prep.
His credo: students can't learn a theorem or understand an algebra lesson without having some fun. Sebastian encourages his students to believe in themselves because a defeatist attitude is detrimental to progress and creates passivity. He also advises them to take advantage of their strengths, no matter what they are, to combat their weaknesses. And of course, to practice over and over, to work towards their goals!
In the case of foreign language tutoring, like with Natalie, a Spanish tutor originally from Mexico so loves sharing what she knows about her language and culture.
Natalie explains that she, too, learns from her students every day. As she prepares her private Spanish lessons, she likes to vary her sessions with supplementary materials: video, audio, stories, songs, news articles, and other things that help her prepare her classes for each student, according to their needs and interests.
Natalie also takes note of the progress that is made each week, and adjusts lessons based on that, as well as the long-term needs of the students. "This motivates the students because it makes them take note of their own progress," explains the young woman.
Superprof connects motivated and competent tutors like Natalie, Sebastian, and Daniel with students. They help them improve their grades and enhance academic confidence, and especially to meet and surpass their goals. If this sounds like something you want to do, too, sign up today.
Now read more about getting started in tutoring...