"Don't limit your challenges; challenge your limits. Each day we must strive for constant and never ending improvement." -Tony Robbins
In all things we do, we must actively accept challenges with open arms. When things are easy, that usually means that nothing worthwhile will come about. Good things don't always come about quickly. Why not? Well, they are usually the result of hard work and consistent effort by all parties involved.
So, do you want to be the master of your domain and be the best tutor that you can be? If so, we applaud you because the world needs more dedicated educators to train the next generation of citizens into thinkers and doers.
And, although tutoring can be challenging, particularly for those without extensive teaching experience, it is a rewarding and dynamic career that merits specific attention. Also, it's important to state that online tutoring poses it’s own problems since you are separated by distance from the student.
But, have no fear, Superprof is here to save the day and introduce new tutors to techniques that are proven to work, and have been recommended by academics who have carefully studied the dynamics of online tutoring.
We believe that the research and information we will provide in today's article is genuinely fascinating. How's that? We will delve deeper into five techniques to improve online tutoring that was brought out by Cherie Mazer who researched this area in her recent paper ‘Best Practices in Online Tutoring’.
So, let's get started and figure out what her research had to say!
Pre-Assessment of the Student
Sometimes a new student has a hard time expressing and identifying their academic weaknesses and might not even understand why they require remedial assistance from a professional tutor. Even if they gold star students and their parents forced them to take online tutoring sessions, there is always something that can be uncovered.
Therefore, during the introductory lesson, the first step should be to understand what a student is capable of and what he/she struggles within an academic setting. A pre-assessment of the pupil can be accomplished using the following two ways:
- Perform a quick test of the syllabus or module curriculum of a variety of subjects such as maths and science to understand where the student needs help and what they were more comfortable analysing. A practice test allows you, the tutor, to prioritise different subjects over others whilst still making a plan that will enable you to cover other areas that could need work in the future.
- A secondary manner of understanding the student's capabilities is to look at different areas of course material to understand what it is they are that are analysing for homework and during class time. Ask the student to explain what topics and concepts they are studying.
An added suggestion is that of asking additional questions that focus on the core of each topic. For example, if you’re looking at mathematics, consider asking which simple equations they remember and which ones they are seriously struggling to grasp. For instance, maybe they’ve forgotten a few of their equations relating to laws of motion and this, in turn, will give you a better idea of the course material that can be analysed during tutoring sessions to make lessons more productive.
Check out these research findings on online tutoring.
Learning Actively Through Guided Coaching
Guiding or coaching a student through a learning process is seen as the ‘gold standard’ of effective tutoring. Why is that?
Well, while some impatient students will go to a remedial teacher merely searching for the answers to their specific questions – the best tutors will take the time to explain things. Why's that? Well, to allow their student to come to their conclusions about what the answer is instead of solely giving them the response.
How does a professional use the technique of active coaching? The following is a list of things educators must keep in mind to guide a student through new information:
- Ask leading questions that merit more of an answer than simply 'yes' or 'no',
- Reiterate the facts that the student expressed so that he/she can easily recall the answer,
- Try to understand their thought process and ask them additional questions so that you know them effectively,
- Make it a step-by-step process,
- Do not overwhelm the student with too much information from the get-go.
Guiding a student through an essential concept is not only a fantastic way to revise prior knowledge, but it also helps them understand the new steps they should take to understand that same concept in the future better.
Any additional suggestions? Of course, there are! When a student comes to you with a particular question, make them recall the steps they would take to get to a certain point to determine where they got stuck in their understanding. Tutors must strive to comprehend the overall thought process before attempting to push them a little further with leading questions.
If you are unsure that the first attempt at guiding them worked, give another example to make sure that they fully understand what they need to comprehend to succeed and pass those upcoming exams!
Find out about online learning child safety here.
Working at the Appropriate and Correct Level
As it has been mentioned in today's article, the best tutors understand where their student’s problem lies an how they can arrive at a successful conclusion. Comprehending a problem and knowing the student personally helps the tutor to tailor the solution to their needs.
Through the use of different questions of varying difficulty, you can better help a student and learn to work with them at an appropriate level.
However, your assessment should not stop there – you should be able to take a little time every so often to work out how well they are progressing. Can you move on to something a little more challenging? Should you go over things again to make sure that they still comprehend the information?
The best tutors take time to regularly gauge how a student is doing, which allows them to control the speed more efficiently so that the pupil doesn’t appear lost and can keep up with the information. Remember, you need to make your student understand that there is no failure going back and spending more time on fundamental topics that need more help.
You cannot tackle more complex concepts of the same subject with increasing speed and efficiency if a proper foundation of the basic things has not been laid.
Before concluding this part, it is essential that you, the tutor, spend time frequently reviewing the understandings of your pupil. If you don't, they will continue to struggle.
Please read our article about how to become effective in online tutoring.
Have Your Student Explain Things
Remember, in school, when a teacher before an exam would say, ‘show you workings?' Well, the same must be communicated to a student when you are their private tutor. Asking a student to show their workings will help you understand their thought process. And, even if the answer isn’t spot-on, you can stop them and point out an error which can be corrected together.
By getting them to demonstrate their reasoning and how they got to their answer, you’ll help them become more and more confident in showing what they’re doing. If they’re right, it’ll be a self-confidence boost that serves as encouragement. And, if they are wrong, you can point out their errors in a positive way and commend them for their hard work. Both situations are a win-win!
A brilliant suggestion that should be applied by new tutors is that of asking your student to explain how they work through their steps. Don’t ask for their answer and tell them if it’s right or wrong. Request the response at the end of the question. How does that help? Well, this means that you have listened to each step without having them get discouraged about their answer from the start.
Some people use Skype for online tutoring, but are there any risks? Here are some things to keep in mind when using Skype for online tutoring.
One of the best ways to help reinforce the material at hand is to sit down and go through the material step-by-step. Have them follow a set of your instructions that always remains the same to create a process that can be used time after time.
It is essential to state that an instructional explanation is best suited for those who are reviewing maths, but it can easily be applied to other subjects too; don't fret!
The suggestion of using a list of instructions is convenient for those who are struggling with or are looking at something new. Go through questions to reinforce the instructions and ask them at different points to get involved and work something out along the way; this creates an active learning experience.
All of the five techniques mentioned in today's article are extremely practical and worthy of consideration for first-time tutors looking to establish a successful career in online education. We want to thank Cherie Mezer and all the other education experts working today for supporting supplemental education online and in-person.
In conclusion, as a private tutor, continually pay attention to their teaching skills to become a better instructor that helps individuals achieve their academic goals. There is no greater joy than seeing your pupils succeed at what they do!
You could check for tutoring jobs here.
Also, you may find a do it yourself guide for online tutoring useful if you want to tutor online.
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