Whether you are tutoring long-term or helping students achieve their short-term goals, your style and methods of teaching will vary depending on each individual student. That's why it is imperative, especially in shorter term tutoring, to get to know your pupil as quickly as possible.
Prior to your first private tuition session, you should have a verbal briefing from the student or their guardian as to what they hope to achieve from the lessons. For example; is there one particular area they believe requires extra work or is the brief wider in scope, covering the entire A-level or GCSE curriculum?
Once you meet your pupil, don't be afraid of setting a short test early on in your lessons. However, do keep it concise and emphasise that the point is not to examine them. The test should form a benchmark of a student's current abilities, providing a proven basis on which to base their personalised lesson plan and a yardstick from which to judge improvement.
Time should also be spent early on, possibly even prior to lessons beginning, understanding the pupil's modus operandi. Does your student feel they take in more through rote learning or discussion? What particular concept do they feel is eluding them? When undertaking exam revision, do they make note cards or use visual aids? Their answers to these questions will give you an insight into how they study and how they best absorb information. Armed with this knowledge, you can tailor lesson and revision plans accordingly, potentially helping your student to exceed their own expectations.
In your experience, what's a good way of breaking the ice with a new student, and to what extent do you adjust your teaching style to suit the individual student?