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Tips to be a Better Tutor

By Kirill K | Thursday, June 23, 2022

What does it take to be a good tutor? As tutors on Schoolhouse.world, we are always trying to answer that question. We want to do better so that our learners and students have the best possible experience. I’ve sought to answer that very question. And after auditing over 400 sessions, I believe I have an answer.

Tutoring is like learning to play a musical instrument: the more you practice, the better you become. This doesn't just apply to tutoring, but also professional educators. More often than not students can tell when you're a new educator, as you're still acquainting yourself to the tricks of the trade. The best way to avoid this is by drumroll tutoring more! Most of your sessions will be audited and the auditing team can provide you with some extremely valuable tips as they have reviewed lots of sessions so they know what works and what doesn't. Taking that advice and implementing it in your sessions could be a great way to combat the "new tutor fever."

Make your session interactive

Active learning is a big part of MARS, an acronym we use at Schoolhouse.world to maintain our high standard of tutoring. This is one of the biggest things that has stuck out to me in making a particular session fun. Tutors who ask their learners questions and get input are more likely to make a fun session. For active learning, I like to utilize a few methods that build a stronger community and get the learners more engaged in the session.

Create a welcoming and friendly environment

You could start with some icebreakers and use the popcorn method. During popcorn, the tutor chooses one student to begin introducing themselves or do the icebreaker. When the student reaches a stopping point, the student randomly selects another student in class to introduce themselves. This gets the learner’s interacting which builds an even stronger community. Have simpler warm-up questions for the learners to try at the start. Once they start getting questions correct, they will be motivated to try out harder questions.

Gamify the lesson

Let the learners know what level they're at by making it feel like a game! This might be something as simple as saying “congrats you got 4 out of 4 correct which means you're in level 3 today." When doing this, it's important to also acknowledge student’s effort, even if they’re still struggling. Use a credit system to reward correct answers which can then be used in a follow-up session to redeem a prize, such as getting to have an emoji next to their name on zoom. While taking questions and answers, make sure you're watching out for correct answers and acknowledging the learners that gave this answer. This could be done by saying things such as “I like everyone's answer to this question, but I'm going to give a special shoutout to 'Soandso' for providing an exceptional answer!”

Create a Peer-to-Peer environment

During auditing, I once saw the tutor refer to the learners as friends, “hey friends, welcome back to this session!” This took me by surprise as I have never seen any other tutor implement a similar practice. It made such a difference, as the learners in that particular session were a lot more energetic and were a lot more engaged in the session. When we use terms like "student(s)" it establishes more of a formal environment which decreases engagement among the learners.

The Ace of Cards

When we present in class at the end of a presentation we usually ask “Does anybody have any questions?” it may seem trivial but it makes such a difference. If they ask a question, it means that they leave with all their concerns addressed. This is a great tool for users that might feel too shy or awkward to inerupt If they say no, that is also a victory as that most likely means that you did exceptionally well during the lesson . A win, win scenario!

To be the best tutors we can be we have to have a support network and on Schoolhouse.world we have a great one set up with the mentor team being ready to support anyone who needs it all you need to do is fill in the Typeform which you could find in on the tutoring dashboard. As tutors on Schoolhouse.world, we are at the front end of edtech so we have a lot of different websites that we could also use to support our sessions.

  • SlideCarnival: Great free presentation templates
  • Excalidraw: You can share a link with learners to draw on the same screen. I like it because you can never really run out of space and you never have to clear the screen (you can just keep scrolling around for more space). Learners could also export the annotations.
  • Kahoot: Learners enjoy answering timed practice problems using Kahoot. it For tips on using Kahoot click here.
  • Wordle For Friends: It's a great way of making your presentations more engaging. You could pick a word that the learners have to guess at the start and this word could be like “Rhyme” and in that session, you could be learning about how different English language techniques affect the overall piece. What's different about Wordle For Friends is that it lets you pick the word so you can make it relevant to your session.

I wish you the best of luck with your tutoring journey I know you’ll be an amazing tutor! If you have any questions, queries, concerns, or you just want to chat with somebody I'm always available on Slack.

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