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Tutoring Tips

Entering the world of private tuition for the first time can be daunting, so we've collected what we hope will be useful advice to let you to what you can expect, especially when tutoring younger age groups:

Encouraging students to contribute

On the odd occasion your student might be raring to get started, but it is more likely that they feel defensive and are unsure what to expect from private tuition lessons and therefore reluctant to participate.

Issues to anticipate

It is always worth being aware of the following potential issues, especially for those new to giving tuition:

  1. Your student find it difficult to explain exactly what it is that they find so challenging about their subject. This will make them feel awkward and unsure about the part they are able to play in the tutorial. If a student is clearly having trouble expressing themselves, avoid the kind of why questions that add additional pressure and instead figure out other methods to discover their personal trials and tribulations.
  2. Your student will likely try to procrastinate, especially during the first lesson when they don't know you and are unsure what you expect of them. Demonstrate your empathy and where possible encourage their opinions to build their confidence.
  3. Your student might feel you are judging them. This is more likely with the younger age-group and definitely something to be aware of as it can make your student feel nervous and affect their performance.
  4. Bear in mind that many of your students have probably never had a one-to-one lesson before, and so might be unsure of how to work alongside a tutor.

Basic Principles of Encouraging Students Contribution

Students are far more likely to engage in their lesson when:

  • When you give support and respect is mutual
  • Tuition is seen as a co-operative activity
  • The objective of the lesson is a clearly understood
  • The student is aware of the importance of their contribution
  • Methods are used that encourage student participation
  • The tasks set are realistic and achievable
  • And, most importantly, your student feels comfortable around you!

Introducing the Tuition Lesson

A brief introduction to what you plan to cover during the lesson, and what you want to the student to get out of the session is always a good way to start any tutorial. It helps draw students in, and gives them the opportunity to comment on your lesson plan and how they believe they will find it. You may wish to encourage such dialogue by ending your introduction with open-ended questions, e.g. "What do you think of...", and so forth.

Directing Discussion During Lessons

Think about:

  • Giving supportive feedback to increase the students confidence
  • Encouraging broader or deeper engagement in their subject
  • Correcting any misunderstandings

Providing Feedback:

Giving you student regular feedback is important to let them know that they are progressing - this may be harder to recognise from their perspective - or to let them know areas that still need some work.

Try to:

  • Comment any particular skills the student has developed or improved on
  • Encourage practice of neglected skills
  • Give constructive feedback and try to link to specific examples
  • Always be encouraging and friendly when commenting on work

Balancing Tutor and Student Contributions:

  • Review your levels of intervention
  • Think about trigger material
  • Balance feedback with space
  • Invite in quiet students

Ending the Session

If you are setting the student homework, leave enough time to talk it through with the student so they understand what they have to do, and how it will aid their progress. It can also be helpful to ask your student "light touch" questions to get an idea of how they feel lessons are progressing, e.g.:

  • What questions are on your mind at the end of this lesson?
  • What has been the most important thing you've learned?
  • Are there any questions on your mind following this lesson?

Not Contributing/Cries For Help

Avoid spelling out the answer, or there is no point to the exercise. Try to give broad hints or outline key steps before eventually coming to the answer .

  • Give some encouragement, students can lose their motivation when they feel they are dropping behind. Make sure the tasks are manageable.
  • Giving constructive advice on how to catch up

Tutoring: Self-Evaluation Check-list

As you work with more students you may want to start self-evaluating to remember what worked and what didn't, in addition to any feedback First Tutors: Australia receives from parents. Below is some "food for thought" to help you in the process.

How well did I .....? Very Well Satisfactory Could Be Better
Prepare for the lesson   
Get the lesson under way (establish objectives, purpose of exercises etc)   
Ask questions and prompt the student   
Handle the student's comments and questions   
Respond to the student as an individual   
Keep the focus on the main topic   
Maintain student interest   
Provide help when students encountered difficulties   
Ensure key points were drawn out   
Bring things to a close and set out homework   

New to Private Tuition?

We welcome both new and seasoned tutors to sign up to First Tutors: Australia and create an online profile to attract potential students.

When you register you will be asked to state what subjects you'd like to give tuition in, your hourly charge per subject and level, and given space to introduce yourself, past experience and qualifications.

Picking your Subjects

When choosing the subjects you are going to offer tuition in, this is definitely an matter of quality over quantity. Bear in mind that we do ask your student to supply you with feedback, so it is best to pick fewer subjects that you have thorough knowledge. Consider your strengths and build a reputation on this.

Beginning Tutoring

The first impression you give new clients can affect their long term opinion of you. Be prompt in arranging a first lesson, prepare a lesson plan, and bring with you any references, qualifications of criminal history checks that may have been requested.