“Winners find solutions, losers make excuses.”
Since the kids are back at school, a lot of them might start noticing that they’ve fallen behind when they were learning at home. After all, they missed a lot of lessons during the lockdown and the school closures.
Similarly, their parents might be back at work and no longer able to help them with their lessons or homework, either. While the schools were closed to stop the spread of the virus, it won’t have done anything for the students’ educations.
How can you help them by offering private tutorials online?
In this article, we’ve got some advice for private tutors wanting to take their lessons online.
Check Your Equipment Before You Offer Online Tutorials
The first thing you have to do before offering online tutorials to new or existing students is to check that your webcam, mic, and computer work.
You won’t be alongside the student but you’ll still need to be able to see and hear them. There’s a lot of non-verbal communication used to effectively teach and simple gestures, a good posture, and smiling can all help.
Communicating effectively can help your students learn better.
There are three things you need to check:
- Your webcam: Integrated webcams aren’t usually of a high quality so check them first. You might want to either buy a webcam or connect a device with a good camera like your smartphone or digital camera. Make sure that the room you’ll be using is well lit so that your student can clearly see you.
- Your microphone: Call a family member using videoconferencing software and make sure they can clearly hear you. You can also check the image quality. Audio is hugely important. Your student needs to be able to hear what you’re teaching them but you also need to hear any questions they may have and the answers they give. If your microphone tends to crackle or cuts out, you might want to invest in a new mic or a headset.
- Your internet connection: If you can’t hear clearly, the image freezes, or the sound distorts, it’s probably your internet connection. You should opt for a wired connection over wi-fi when you can. If your connection is truly terrible, you’ll want to look for other providers.
Once you’ve checked your equipment and the connection, you can start offering online tutorials. However, you and your student should always connect a few minutes before the class is due to start so that you can check the connection and equipment.
Don’t forget to regularly update your computer, turn it on ahead of time, and close apps and programs that you won’t be using.
When your equipment works well, your lessons will be better.
Choose a calm and quiet part of your house that’s well-lit so that your student can see and hear you without any distractions.
Don’t forget to let them know which program you’ll be using (Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, Facetime, etc) so that they can download it and create an account if they need to. The best way is to send them an invitation to the program or call at the time the lesson is scheduled. They just have to click the link and they’ll be on the call.
What Are Online Tutorials Like? What’s Different?
Finally, online private tutorials are quite similar to face-to-face tutorials in terms of planning. You just need to use different tools.
Your First Online Tutorial
If you’re offering homework help, academic support, or tutorials in a given subject, remember that you’ll have to explain to your student what the lesson will be like, especially if they’ve never participated in an online tutorial before.
With a new student, you’ll want to outline their learning goals and how you’ll be teaching them.
This allows you to get to your student like you would if you were at their home. You can ask them about their level, how long they’ll be getting academic support for, what they struggle with, when they’re available, etc.
Of course, make sure the questions will help you better understand the student. Then it’s up to you to adapt.
Reviewing the Previous Lesson
Like you would during face-to-face tutorials, you’ll want to make sure that they’re comfortable with the material covered in the previous lesson.
This might come in a form of a casual conversation. You can ask them questions to check their knowledge and see if they’re struggling with anything.
If there is anything they haven’t quite understood, you can adapt your tutorials to go over the topics again or reinforce what they learnt last time. You can quickly remind them or go back over certain topics, provide them with extra learning materials, or do another lesson on the topic, depending on how much they’re struggling and what works best for them.
Before videoconferencing and online tutorials, you could correct exercises in front of the student so they can see where they went wrong.
You should show them their errors so that they can ask questions about it. With common mistakes, you could explain how they got it wrong and show them a new way to understand certain concepts. With online tutorials, you may want to share your screen as you correct exercises or work on a Google Doc together. With the latter, they can see edits being made in real-time.
New Lessons and Exercises
Once you’ve corrected the previous work and checked that you’re good to move on, you can start teaching the core topics of the day’s online tutorial. You can do this either by sharing your screen or using something like Google Slides.
You can explain new concepts and topics and the student can either handwrite their notes or make notes on their computer.
After the lesson, don’t hesitate to check their understanding and allow them to ask any questions that they may have. To check comprehension, you might just want to do this through conversation before giving them exercises they can do on their own time.
Each lesson needs to be tailored to the student. This means that this structure isn’t set in stone and you can change it according to your teaching style and your students. They’re your tutorials after all! Don’t hesitate to adapt them to your students so that they get the most out of every minute with you.
Adapting Resources for Online Tutorials During the Global Pandemic
When offering private lessons at home, you can bring your books, worksheets, and exercises.
You can’t do this with an online tutorial! You’re going to have to adapt and make sure that all the resources are digital.
This might include a bit of work at first. You may have to scan worksheets or pages from the books you use or even look online for digital resources. Make the most of video resources. YouTube, for example, has tonnes of great educational content on it.
You might want to prerecord some stuff for your student. You can send a video for your student to watch before their tutorial or send them the Powerpoint or Google Slides beforehand.
Face-to-face tutorials have the advantage of allowing the tutor and student to quickly share resources. However, if you do the prep, being an online tutor can be just as easy!
With this advice, you should be able to get started with online tutoring and have them work just as effectively as your face-to-face tutorials! The world is changing and you may have to get a bit creative to teach your students online.
Sadly, it's unlikely that group tutorials will be feasible soon. However, don't rule out the possibility that once this is all over, certain students living in the same area and studying the same subjects may be able to be integrated into a group class. This might be worth considering if you're teaching a subject where group work can really help.
Of course, always make sure that everything you do follows the current restrictions or measures in place in your local area. If you have any doubts, check with your local council.