General Tutoring Tips and Techniques
- Relax and be yourself.
You have been selected to tutor because you have the qualities that make you a positive role model for your tutee. Also remember that you are tutoring your peer. While he or she has a challenge in one subject area, you may have a challenge in another. Nobody is perfect.
- Establish rapport.
Learn and remember your tutee's names. Be friendly and sincere in your efforts to understand your tutee as a person with unique interests and academic needs. Create an atmosphere of mutual respect and confidence.
- Respect your tutees.
No positive rapport can exist without mutual respect between tutor and tutee. Be non-judgmental, accepting their personal integrity without trying to manage or change their frame of reference to suit your own value system. Try for an equal status, non-patronizing relationship.
- Maintain confidentiality.
Be professional! Information gained about your tutee's challenges, problems, test scores, grades, etc., is strictly confidential.
- Be sensitive to the individual needs of your tutees.
Your tutee might be embarrassed to ask for help. Offering help in a patronizing or condescending way can easily compound the feelings of inadequacy you are working to help him or her overcome. Take some time to establish rapport; let the tutee know you want to be there. Consider such factors as the instructor's style of teaching, the demands of the course; learn about your tutee's special sensitivities and learning styles as well as their particular interests and talents.
- Be informative without being intimidating.
Resentment closes down communication. Help the tutees understand what is expected of them by themselves, by you, and by the instructor. Make them aware of the scope of the subject to be covered as well as the requirements of individual assignments.
- Be positive.
Your tutees may have had little success in school and need a rewarding experience. Focus on what the tutee is doing right. Help them recognize their strong points and work with them to strengthen their areas of challenge. Be honest, direct, and tactful. Praise and success are the best motivators.
- Encourage independence.
Do not become a crutch. Your tutees must be aware at all times that you are not going to do their work. Let them know that they must put forth an effort in order to benefit from tutoring. Insist that they do their assignments, study on their own, and do their own thinking. In general, the less work you do for your tutee, the better. Although it is quicker, easier, and less frustrating to do the work for him/her, it is of little permanent help to the tutee. Help him or her learn how to do his or her own work. If you do supply an answer, be sure that your tutee understands how you arrived at it and make sure you check for retention and understanding of that concept later on in the session.
- Be patient.
Try not to act annoyed with student's progress or lack thereof. Focus on the learning activity. Your annoyance may reinforce negative attitudes toward the course and their general ability.
- Be a "prober."
Rather than feed the student answers, probe or prompt the student to remain in an active role in the tutoring process. Engage him/her in a joint exploration of problems and concerns. Verbalization builds self-confidence and enhances learning. The tutee should be talking about 75% of your session. (You should be talking only about 25% of the time.) Don't turn your tutoring time into just another class lecture.
- Be flexible.
Remember that the style and content of the material to be learned should be adjusted to the individual being tutored. Be resourceful and use initiative in devising or trying new methods and approaches to learning the subject at hand.
- Encourage your tutees to focus on "learning how to learn."
Try to get them to concentrate on developing mental processes and learning strategies rather than on getting the "correct answers" and using rote memorization. Poor use of time and lack of good study habits are major shortcomings. Help tutees to master techniques that will help them to become efficient learners.
- Be a good listener.
Be aware of both verbal and non-verbal clues. Listen carefully to all of the messages about their feelings, the progress being made, concerns with the subject matter and course requirements. If you end up doing most of the talking at tutoring sessions, something is wrong.
- Even if you disagree with the way the course is being taught, you are to support the methods of the instructor.
REMEMBER: you are a tutor, not the professor. You are not responsible for teaching or grading the course and must recognize and accept your limitations. Under no circumstances should a tutor "degrade" a faculty member. It is imperative that you maintain a "professional" attitude and behavior. If there is a major conflict, please consult with the LC Director for support and guidance.
- Have confidence in yourself, but don't be afraid to ask for help and guidance.
Don't hesitate to say that you do not know an answer. Be willing to research the matter and get back to your tutees at the next session. Your tutees will enjoy finding out that you are human too!