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Advice for Tutors

Below we have gathered some general guidance on giving grinds, including issues you may encounter, ways to encourage student participation, and the value of completing a self-evaluation check-list.

Encouraging Students to Contribute

Students may be reluctant to participate in their grinds; it is a new experience, and one they feel they might not want to take part in as they are unaware of the purpose or value of these additional lessons. Of course, for the grinds to be most effective, it is important for the student to contribute to their lessons by being able to communicate with their tutor.

Issues to anticipate

When working with young students in particular, it is worth being aware of the following issues, as you may have to deal with them:

  1. Articulation. Your student may lack the vocabulary to describe what they are finding difficult or what help they need, and thus feel as though they cannot contribute to their lesson. If a student finds it difficult to express themselves, it is best to avoid the type of why questions which can make a child feel under pressure.
  2. Your student may feel obliged to defer you. Tutors, like teachers, can be intimidating for children - and sometimes adults too - so try to encourage their opinions to build their confidence in themselves and in their subject.
  3. Your student may see you as an assessor. This is more common with younger age-groups, and something to be aware of, as it can make children nervous.
  4. Your student may not know how to work together with a tutor, having never had one-to-one grinds before.

Encouraging Students to Participate: Basic Principles

Remember that students are more likely to participate when:

  • They feel relaxed in your company
  • Respect is shown and support is given
  • Grinds are seen as a co-operative activity
  • There is a clear understanding of learning objectives
  • The student understands the importance of their contribution
  • The student is set feasible and achievable goals
  • Methods are used to motivate student participation

Introducing Grinds

To engage the student in the session ahead it can be helpful to introduce the lesson with a brief outline of what you intend to go over, to gage their response and invite discussion. If they seem reluctant encourage their contribution further by asking open-ended questions initiate dialogue, e.g. "What do you think of this problem / passage".

Directing Discussion

Think about:

  • Supplying supportive feedback
  • Encouraging wider and deeper understanding of the subject being tutored, and the importance of the subject as a whole
  • Correcting any misunderstandings

Supplying Feedback to Students on their Skills and Abilities:

  • Verbally recognise particular skills the student has, whilst encouraging the practice of neglected ones
  • Give constructive feedback and try to link to specifics to allow the student to use and apply this feedback
  • Always be encouraging and friendly when commenting on the student's work

Balancing Tutor and Student Contribution:

  • Review your levels of intervention - allow to student to develop independently between giving feedback
  • Think about trigger material - how will the student respond to your remarks?
  • Understand what methods of encouragement work for your student as an individual

Closing Tutorials

If you are setting homework, make sure the student understands what is expected of them and leave time to answer any questions the student might have. Encourage feedback on how your student feels lessons are progressing by asking "light touch" questions, e.g.:

  • What's on your mind at the end of this session?
  • What would you consider most significant thing you've learned?
  • Do you have any questions following this session?

Not Contributing/Cries For Help

Avoid spelling out answers, or the student will never make any progress. Try giving broad hints or outlining key steps, and insist the student have a go themselves before to show them an answer.

  • Encouragement is vital. If a student feels overwhelmed by their subject they can feel discouraged and this is when they will try to avoid the work they have been set. Do not be afraid to challenge your student, but ensure the tasks are doable.
  • If you feel your student is unable to keep up, slow the pace a little, but give constructive advice on how they can catch up

Self-Evaluation Check-list

As you work with more students you may find it helpful to start self-evaluating, to help you remember what worked and what didn't, in addition to any feedback First Tutors: Ireland receives about you 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 session   
Get the session underway (establish aims, 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   
Help sustain the student's interest   
Provide help when students encountered difficulties   
Ensure key points were drawn out   
Bring things to a close and set out homework   

New to Grinds?

If you are new to grinds, please still feel welcome to register with First Tutors: Ireland and start attracting potential students today!

When you register you will be asked to declare which subjects you give grinds in, how much you charge [per hour], and can use your online profile to tell prospective students about your qualifications, experience, and approach to grinds.

Choosing your Subjects

We advise new tutors to think carefully about the subjects they offer to teach. Think quality over quantity; it doesn't matter the number of subjects you offer grinds in, but that you are confident in all aspects of those you do, whether that be one subject or ten. A few weeks after students have been matched to tutors, we invite them to give feedback. This allows the tutor to benefit from positive remarks they can then use to enhance their profile. However, if you are teaching a subject beyond your capacity, it will be clear to your student and this feedback may be less then gracious Think broadly about what your skills are, and build your reputation on this.

Giving Grinds

Your first grinds session will define how your student and their parents perceive you as a tutor, and it is therefore vital you give the right impression. When you are matched with a student, follow up quickly to arrange a lesson. Students are often anxious when seeking a tutor and will want to begin their grinds as soon as possible. Make sure to be punctual if you are travelling to the students home, do the requisite lesson preparation, and if you have declared any references or a Garda Vetting Certificate, have the documentation available.

Recommended Resources

Below are some resources that you may find useful if you are new to grinds, or even as a seasoned tutor: