Whether you're a new tutor or have been in the industry for years, there are a few things each tutor should know in order to build a successful relationship with your students.
First impressions mean everything. Most teachers and tutors alike know that your first lesson with a new student is vital in setting the course for future success. One-on-one tutoring between you and your student demands a different approach than normal classroom settings. Enthusiasm and individualized care is important to maintain during any lesson to build a strong relationship between you and the student.
There is a reason why getting to know your student is our number one tip. It’s vital to know your student before giving an amazing first lesson. Take the time to sit with your potential student and get to know something about them and their studies. Some questions to ask are:
- What subject(s) is the student struggling with?
- What are their preferred learning styles?
- What age or year are they currently in?
- What is the student’s current level of achievements e.g. on what level is the student based on their grades?
All of these questions will help you as the tutor to understand where the student is and where they need to be in terms of their goals.
The old saying ‘dress to impress’ is something everyone should know and follow. A student might have a certain idea in mind on how their tutor will present themselves, so it is important to live up to those expectations. Both the student and their parents will make an immediate judgement of your suitability as a tutor based on your attire. Tutors should always wear smart-casual clothing and be well presented. If you look the part, then you’ll fit the part! And remember, never be late. Being late to your first lesson will make a terrible first impression. It’s important to always be punctual and on time for each and every lesson to build a solid relationship with your student as well as the parents.
The relationship between a student and their tutor is very unique. A student is looking for someone who they will enjoy their lessons with and who will help them to make progress with their studies. So, take the time to introduce yourself as the tutor and ask some questions to get to know your student on a personal, but professional level.
Based on the approach you take, students will start to trust you and will feel much more comfortable with you as their tutor. Ask about where they want to study one day, what their dream job is and what they struggle with the most. Based on their answers, you as the tutor will be able to create a personalised lesson plan that will benefit the student in reaching their goals.
Many students have never been tutored privately before, so they might not be familiar with the protocols of receiving private lessons. This is where you as the tutor will need to create an agenda and explain to the student how you as a tutor will present the lessons and what your expectations are for the student.
Take some time to sit with the student and explain that:
- The lessons will be more like a conversation than a classroom lesson
- The student should always stop you when they are uncertain about anything during the lesson
- The student should ask questions at any time during the lesson
Private tutoring lessons are very different from the lessons they receive during school, but a level of professionalism should always be maintained by the student and the tutor. Explain to the student that even though your lessons might be more informal, the student should still take the lessons very seriously.
As a tutor, it’s important to find out where your student is with regards to their studies and with what they’re struggling with. In this case, pre-prepared questions or activities are your new best friend. Presenting pre-prepared questions or activities have many benefits such as:
- It allows you to see on what level the student is based on every subject they need tutoring in. Many times, both the student and the parents are unsure of where the student is in terms of their studies and what the student’s abilities are. This way, you will be able to brief the student and the parents on what level they are and how the lessons can be planned accordingly to get them to where they need to be.
- It allows you to see how the student goes about doing their work and what their attitude is like during their study sessions.
- It lets you build shared objectives with your students. If a student is struggling with their confidence, then make sure to use positive reinforcement during your lessons.
Trust between you and your student is vital for the success of the lessons. It may seem counter-productive, but start the lessons on an easier level than suggested by the students or parents. This way, you as the tutor will be able to see on what level your student is with their academics.
If the student is up to par with their academics and your expectations, then each success will be a small victory for the student, boosting their confidence and allowing you to move ahead more quickly with new work. This will allow the student to settle much easier into the idea of private tutoring while discovering their real abilities. Starting small will allow the student to feel like they are making progress during the first few lessons while you both settle into a routine.
While the first few lessons will focus on getting to know each other and settling into a routine, you will also need to demonstrate your abilities as an excellent tutor! Remember, as a tutor, you’ll need to prove yourself every lesson on why the parents and student chose you as the perfect tutor.
It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. If there is ever a concept that the student does not understand, teach them a new thing or two. Be enthusiastic about the subject and show the student that you have a passion for teaching the specific subject they struggle with. Use colours, diagrams or even videos to teach the student new things in new and innovative ways.
Homework. What a dreadful thing. However, if a student wants to make great progress, then you’ll need to give them some work to do while you’re not there. Which means you’ll need to provide some much-needed homework.
Homework can be a great way of assessing whether the student has been listening and learning during your tutoring session. This will also allow you to see what the student has mastered and what still needs work. Leaving some homework for the student, which is relevant and interesting to do, will send a great message to the students that you as a tutor care about their academics and are there to support them and help them reach their goals.
While most of the attention will be focused on helping the student, a lot of people forget about the parents and the role they play in tutoring. A parent is looking for someone who will keep them updated on their child’s progress. The solution: create a report after each weekly tutoring session.
Creating a report will show the parents that their child is in good hands. Someone who cares about their child's well-being and not just about getting some extra money. After every week, or after a set amount of lessons, take some time to sit with the parents and discuss the student’s progress so far. What they have accomplished and what they’ve overcome. This will allow the parents to see that their money is going to a good cause and that their child will perform much better with their studies.
Even though tutoring is never just about the money, you as a professional tutor will need to secure long-term students in order to secure your income.
After delivering your report to the parents, discuss with them about future tutoring sessions. Be confident about your services and ask the parents what their plans are for their child. This will ensure you as a tutor will establish a long-term relationship with the student and their parents, while ensuring that the student receives the lessons that they need.