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Connecting with Students to Craft Successful Student

Unique Situation of Small Group Tuition Tutors have a very unique and special opportunity when it comes to interacting with students; one that differs vastly from teaching in a classroom setting. The tutor spends time doing something that he or she hopefully really enjoys, teaches students that subject, and spends that time with small groups or individual students.  The difference is apparent in the personal relationships between tutor and student and also in the experience of watching a student learn.

6051-largeStudents who are pursuing tuitions also have a different experience with a tutor than in a larger group class. When teaching individuals, personalities, connections, and relationships matter a great deal.

Importance of Selecting Appropriate students

Some tutors are so enthusiastic to teach what they enjoy that they ignore or are oblivious to obvious potential personality clashes or difficulties. When meeting with a student and/or the student’s parents, it pays for a tutor to impartially analyze whether that student relationship would be successful. For example, if a tutor is not willing or able to help very young students, that information should be intimated to parents at the initial meeting. Another example would be a tutor that is very strict, impersonal, and formal may not be successful with a student who needs a softer student tutor interaction. If a student would not be a good match, for whatever reason, the tutor could suggest another tutor that would be willing/able to accommodate the student or offer to re-discuss when the criteria are met (i.e. when student turns a certain age). Tutors that work within institutions could also introduce the student and parents to a different tutor that may fit their needs better within that institution. Most parents will be glad that this information was offered up front.

Working to Achieve Flexibility

Selecting appropriate students aside, it is in the best interest of the tutor to be flexible and try to meet the needs of a broad range of students. Working with students is as much of an art as it is a science, and every student’s personality and needs will be different. As the tutor, an instructor should be willing to spend some time figuring out the best way to deal with each student, what motivates the student, and how to get the best results from their time together. Some students will respond best to humour/a light tone, some will respond better to a strict schedule and expectations, some will respond best to individual goals and independent work. It is important that the tutor recognizes these things and utilizes them to create the best learning environment possible. In order to discover these traits in a student, the instructor must first make a connection with the student. If a tutor is unable to connect with a student, future interactions will most likely be very frustrating for both. Below are some ways that a tutor can connect with a student. The tutor should try to use these methods in the initial tuitions sessions as change later on can be disorienting for the student.
  • Spending a few minutes in the beginning of the class for personal discussion i.e. asking about school, family, etc. Find topics you both enjoy to occasionally discuss in a casual conversation
  • Trying out different motivational styles, techniques and seeing which ones students respond to best
  • Gather input from parents or family members of younger students on what motivates them
Once the tutor has a better idea as to what motivates the student, he or she can personalize the students tuitions with these tactics, minimize personality differences, and work towards the longevity and success of the student.

Using Motivation in a Positive Manner

Most people have heard the maxim that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Nowhere is this more apparent than with students.  Many people mis-connect strictness/inflexibility with authority and order. This limits the tutor’s style and ability to connect with students. Some of the best instructors are those who respect their students, inspire respect in return, and care enough to positively push them to continue to raise the bar. In this vein, tutors should strive to avoid motivational tactics that create fear or “because I said so” reasoning. In fact, praise and positive reinforcement have been proven to be much better motivators than negative, forceful motivation.

In Conclusion

Students do best with a stable environment for learning. Using these tools and mindsets can help a tutor create lasting relationships with students. This sets the state for a positive learning environment which encourages students to try their best and push their limits in a comfortable setting with a tutor that they can respect. ~ Becky

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