Tutoring Tips for New Tutors
Tutoring is a great way to earn extra money while helping others learn. Here are some tutoring tips for new tutors ready to get started in this rewarding field.
You have been waiting for this moment for a long time. You have a booking! But oh heck, that means you have to actually complete that scary first tutoring session. In this post I am hoping to ease that worry and help you conquer the first session nerves that I know are already a-flutter in your tummy! You’re about to embark on an exciting new career as a tutor. But before you do, there are some things you should know.
How do I prepare for tutoring?
It’s hard to believe, but nerves are good! Feeling nervous shows that you care about the outcome of the event- which is great! Tutors who don’t care find it hard to build rapport, and then find it hard to be a successful tutor that enables the students to achieve their goals.
Don’t forget that your new kiddo actually has no idea that it is your first session unless you tell them! (but why would you do that?) I was lucky enough to have a former pupil as my first student, so I was more nervous about dispelling illusions of adequacy! The client and student are as nervous as you, and have many questions will you be nice? will I be able to do what she asks? what if I don’t understand? etc.
Get Ready to Work Hard.
As a tutor, you will need to work hard to make sure students understand concepts. This means spending lots of time preparing lessons and practicing with students. It also means being flexible and willing to adjust lesson plans when necessary.
Learn About Your Students’ Needs.
Before you begin tutoring, it’s essential to learn more about your students. What topics do they struggle with? How much time do they spend studying each week? Do they prefer one type of learning style over another? These questions will help you tailor your teaching methods to meet their needs. Spend some time in your first session discussing the student’s hopes and the grown ups’ expectations so that you can manage, and address both!
My main rules are:
- if you accept a drink (which I pretty much always do – hot drinks are my love language) make sure you like it as every session after you will be provided with it. My kiddo I mentioned earlier I started with in 2020 and I still get a cup of tea as I walk in 100+ sessions later…
- Your main aim is to build confidence. I don’t care what the subject content is, they don’t feel they can do it. At school they are struggling and don’t even try because they’ll get it wrong. If we make them feel like they can have a go, they feel better about it.
- Be prepared to explain things in three or four different ways.
- use as many games and interactive things as possible. make it fun! It is easy to just work through a workbook, and I know they are useful – I use them myself. However, parents are paying for your expertise. Use it!
What should a tutoring session look like?
I look at my sessions as six 10 minute slots, and plan to do similar warm ups and endings for every session. Having a recurring structure is a must for me. For instance, my English students know we always start with a word of the day (younger ones identify word class, define it, practice it, illustrate it and use it in a sentence, older kids also do antonyms and synonyms maybe some etymology) and end by reading a passage, or practicing fluency passages. Maths kids have a number / fraction of the day or have to do speed tables, and end with an inverse game, or a word problem. Every. Single. Time.
Occasionally your kiddos will get bored with it, heck, who am I kidding – I get bored with it! But 99 times out of 100 the routine and familiarity helps your session flow. It helps with time management for your students as they know this task means we are warming up to work and what to do to complete it. Likewise, when the final activity crops up they have nearly finished their time with you.
Great Tutoring Tips for New Tutors, but what about future sessions?
Don’t plan too far in the future as if you have a good relationship with them they may bring up other topics to cover, or you might pick something up they need support in more immediately than in the slot 7 sessions away you have a space in. Conversely, always have a back up activity ready to go so that you don’t have any idle time if something is quicker than you planned.
Feel free to use technology if you are comfortable with it. I use it in the classroom, and obviously online, but not when I visit other people’s houses. I have a terrible history with tech and reliability when it counts!
Finally, don’t be afraid to use activities or manipulatives that worked well in the classroom, or even try out new ones on the kids!
What materials should a tutor need to bring to a tutoring session?
My top tools for in-person sessions are:
- A4+ size whiteboard, cleaner and some coloured pens – who worries about making mistakes when you can wipe them away!
- some white card stock – print things like key facts or matching games on slightly thicker than paper card and they last longer (and are more environmentally friendly than laminated!).
- some bright felt tip pens for the kids to use (even up to y6/7 they love to colour!)
- some die. they are surprisingly cheap on Amazon (or wherever) and can be used for maths, multiplication, division addition etc but also in any game you make or use.
Be Organized with Materials.
You need to be prepared with materials when you start tutoring. This includes lesson plans, handouts, and other materials that you plan to use during lessons. If you don’t have these materials ready, you won’t be able to effectively teach students.
Stick to your timings.
It’s also important to stick to your own schedule when tutoring. If you plan to teach after school hours, make sure you contact your students at least once during the day to let them know what time you’ll be available. This will allow them to prepare for your lesson.
The last of my tutoring tips for new tutors is simply this: You can do it – don’t panic! Just be you. I am here if and when you need a boost! Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and I can give you a pep talk tutor to tutor!