What is Tutoring? Definition of Tutoring A tutor is a helper. The dictionary defines tutoring as helping students improve their learning strategies in order to promote independence and empowerment. The purpose of tutoring is to help students help themselves, assisting them to become independent learners and thus no longer needing a tutor. A tutor should strive to tutor himself/herself out of business. Tutor Qualities Content knowledgeis essential to be an effective tutor. However, other characteristics are equally important: * A positive outlook -- the belief that things can be changed through action. * A desire to help others -- the willingness to become involved with people at first hand and in depth. * Empathy -- the ability to feel what another person is feeling. * An even disposition -- patience, sensitivity, understanding, fairness, friendliness. * An open mind -- a willingness to accept and respect other people and their point of view. * Initiative -- the ability to see what needs to be done and to do something about it. * Enthusiasm -- a liking for your subject and a wish to share it with others. * Reliability -- punctual, dependable, steady. * Good communication -- verbal and nonverbal; listening as well as speaking. * A sense of humor -- a way to reduce tension, build rapport, and reinforce learning. Tutor Responsibilities **Approach each session with your best effort. **Lead the student to independence in learning. * Learn your tutee’s name and pronounce it correctly. * Determine your own attitudes about school, teachers, teaching, and learning. Be sure not to allow them to influence your behavior during a tutoring session in any way. * Talk to the supervisor of tutoring and to the student’s instructor to make sure work is being covered in the manner assigned. * Give your tutees your undivided attention while you are tutoring them. * Listen to your tutees. Let them think and speak! * Establish good rapport with your tutees. Let each know that you care by showing trust, respect, and acceptance. * Help the student set goals and recognize accomplishments. * Build the tutee’s confidence whenever possible. * Make sure the tutee understands the purpose of tutoring and all policies pertaining to rights and rules for receiving tutoring. * Be relaxed and friendly during all sessions. * Know the needs of each individual student. * Use correct language and pronunciation during your tutoring session. * Model appropriate study skills and acceptable behavior. Limits of Tutor Responsibilities Success—or failure—is the student’s responsibility. Some gaps are too wide to bridge. Know when to suggest other resources. Goals of Tutoring *Promote independence in learning – focus on how to do a task more than on what to do so that the student learns to help himself. *Personalize instruction – use each student’s unique abilities and experiences to develop the most effective learning strategies for that individual. *Facilitate tutee insights – provide opportunities and support in such a way that the student discovers answers, thereby gaining the ability and necessary self-confidence to learn independently of the tutor. *Provide a student perspective – encourage tutees by the fact that you have been where they are and that you can give them valuable inside knowledge about successfully getting through a troublesome class. *Respect individual differences – remember each student brings individual background experiences and expectations; structure the tutoring sessions so that each student feels a measure of success. *Follow your job description – be responsible for following tutoring policies and rules while working with tutees as well as with other duties, such as paperwork, timesheets, conferences, and training sessions. Benefits of Being a Tutor Often the best way to really learn something is to teach it to someone else. By being a tutor you will: * Increase your understanding of the course content in which you tutor. * Develop more self-confidence as you help others be successful. * Become adept at using higher level thinking skills. * Gain experience working with people of diverse backgrounds. * Improve your time management and organizational skills. * Increase your leadership skills. * Be able to plan your work hours around your class schedule. * Work in a supportive environment where you will make new friends. * Have a good reference to list on your resume for potential employers. * Make a little extra money for those little extras of life. Benefits of Receiving Tutoring * Offers a more individualized, structured, and systematic learning experience. * Improves academic performance and personal growth. * Encourages communication between students and instructors. * Motivates self-paced and self-directed learning. * Provides intensive practice for students who need it. * Improves study skills. * Promotes self-confidence and self-esteem. * Generates a positive attitude toward specific subject matter and learning in general. Benefits of Tutoring for the School * Increases opportunities to reinforce instruction. * Increases positive student interaction. * Enhances measurable positive changes in attitude towards teaching/learning for the participants. * Improves educational climate. * Facilitates ethnic and racial integration. * Supports increases in retention and persistence. * Encourages use of multimedia technology by both faculty and students. Ethical Principles *Confidentiality is essential. What happens during a tutoring session is between the tutor and the tutee. Should problems of either an academic or personal nature arise, these should be discussed privately with the tutoring supervisor. *Limit comments about instructors to positive remarks. Criticizing the professor or making negative comments about any course policy, assignment, or teaching style does not help the tutee. Having the tutee lose confidence in the instructor will make it more difficult for learning to occur. It could also damage the relationship between an instructor and student, or between an instructor and tutor. *Treat all tutees with respect. They may make ―funny‖ mistakes. You can laugh with your tutees, but never laugh at them. Tutees can be easily hurt and embarrassed. *Let tutees do their own work. You, as the tutor, are there to question, prod, guide, or suggest rather than to instruct or do the work for the tutee. Tutoring is a partnership; tutees must contribute their share to the tutoring relationship. Remember, also, that the role of a tutor is to foster independent learning. *Let students calculate their own grades. Calculating grades for them can be dangerous; if you make a mistake, you will feel responsible. *Refer students to appropriate resources when they have needs you cannot address. *Be patient and positive. Tutees need encouragement and positive reinforcement. Look for, point out, and praise their strengths and accomplishments. Do not dwell on their weaknesses and shortcomings. *Do not disclose personal information, such as home addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses. Do not ask for or accept this information from your students. *Tutor in designated areas only. It is not acceptable to tutor outside the school environment or outside of designated tutoring times. *Dress appropriately. Tutors will not be allowed to wear any attire that may disrupt the learning environment of the school. Inappropriate dress shall include, but is not limited to the following: Revealing shirts/tops such as crop tops, low cut necklines, and tank tops which reveal midriff, bare shoulders, or undergarments. Clothing promoting drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, violence, obscene, or profane language. Pants not worn at the waistline. Check with the school about jeans. Shorts and skirts shorter than 3 inches above the knee. Pajamas or underwear worn as outerwear. INSPIREYour Tutees to Learn Intelligent Know the subject matter well, and recognize the difficulty level of problems and concepts. Nurturing Build rapport with your students, pay attention to their needs, and be empathetic. Socratic Try to draw as much out of your students as possible. Make them active in the learning process. Asking questions is the best technique. Progressive Begin by working at a level of difficulty where the tutee is comfortable, then challenge the tutee by systematically increasing the difficulty of the material you discuss. Indirect Convey expectations in a polite and unobtrusive manner. Avoid being blunt; instead give hints or ask questions. Reflective Ask tutees to reflect on their progress by asking them to explain, summarize, or write down what they have learned. This reinforces their new knowledge and skills. Encouraging Motivate your students, not just to work hard, but also to feel challenged, empowered, and curious about their learning. (The acronym ―INSPIRE‖ summarizes the characteristics and strategies of expert tutors. It is taken from ―Scaffolding Techniques of Expert Human Tutors‖, by Lepper, Drake, and O’Donnell, Cambridge, MA: Brookline Books, 1998.) Expectations Tutorsshould know that: You are not a homework machine. You are not a miracle worker. If the tutee procrastinated throughout the semester, cramming with you the week before finals will not produce great results. You will not know ALL the answers to EVERY question ALL the time. It is OK to say you do not know, but then make every attempt to find out. You are not an instructor. It is not your responsibility to teach students work they have missed in class due to absences. You are not responsible for a student’s grade. It is up to the student to earn his/her grade. Tuteesshould know that: Tutoring is a two-way street—one in which tutees should play a very active role. Tutees are expected to be an active participant and contributor in their sessions. Tutees should bring all relevant materials to tutoring sessions, including textbook, assignments, notes, past papers, and past tests. Tutees should come prepared by: oAttending class oTaking notes oReading assignments oTrying homework problems Tutors are not there to do your assignment for you or to teach you text material you have not read or attempted yourself. You should ASK QUESTIONS—it is the best way to learn! Once these guidelines have been established, the tutor should give tutees the opportunity to discuss their expectations from tutoring. Do they want a certain grade in a class? Do they want help with study skills? Are they performing poorly on tests? The answers to these questions will give the tutor a good indication of what role to play in the student’s learning. Five Steps of a Tutoring Session 1. GREETING: SMILE! Take a few minutes to visit. Make the tutee feel welcome and comfortable. What are you working on? What are you having trouble with? Why do you think you are having trouble? What do you think will help you most? What would you like me to do to help? Break the task into parts. Set an agenda. Set a time frame to help pace the session. Lead students to discover processes and answers: DON’T JUST DO IT FOR THEM! Ask open-ended questions: How would you start? What would you do next? Why would you do it that way? Is there another way to solve that? What do you think? Review what you worked on. Preview material for next session. Set day and time for next session. Give tutees reassurance they are doing OK. Thank them for coming. SMILE! 2. IDENTIFY TASK: 3. ANALYZE TASK: 4. PROVIDE ASSISTANCE: 5. CLOSING: Other Issues of Tutoring Sessions Silence A common misconception by tutors is that there must always be conversation. Sometimes silence can be the best technique for getting a student to use critical thinking skills to arrive at the answer himself. If you have posed a question, practice WAIT time, anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. If the tutee has still not attempted to answer, rephrase the question for clarification or pose a different question. Because the tutor understands the material while the tutee may be less confident or even unfamiliar with content, it is often difficult for a tutor to anticipate the amount of time a tutee needs to process information. Be patient! However, avoid waiting too long for a response, as this may make the tutee, and possibly the tutor, feel uncomfortable. Yet used sparingly and appropriately, this technique can encourage tutees to become more independent. Gauging Your Tutee’s Comprehension It is important to continuously gauge your tutee’s level of comprehension. Don’t assume knowledge. Even though you think a tutee knows, or should know, background and foundation information, start with the basics FIRST. It is easier to build UP than to back DOWN. Here are some ways to gauge your tutee’s comprehension: * Start with vocabulary, especially if you are tutoring math. Make sure the tutee understands all associated terminology. * Have the tutee summarize what you have said. * Quiz the tutee on information you have covered together. * Have the tutee explain the topic as if he/she were the tutor. * Ask the tutee what he/she does or does not understand * Ask probing questions that require more than a yes or no answer. * Have the tutee draw a diagram of the topic covered. Letting the Tutee Do the Work Be careful that a tutee does not become too dependent on you to solve all his/her problems. What will happen when you are not there to give them the answers? Aid the tutee in finding other resources and developing appropriate study strategies. With these tools, they can succeed academically without you, which is one of the goals of tutoring. By allowing the tutee to have control of the process, you encourage independent learning and help the tutee gain confidence in his/her own ability. Follow these suggestions: Let the tutee have the pencil. Let the tutee look up the information in the book. Let the tutee draw charts or diagrams. Let the tutee talk. Let the tutee do the thinking. Using Reinforcement Tutees need recognition of their successes. When using reinforcement, make sure to reinforce improvement without over-exaggerating the student’s gain. The more specific you are about the gain, the better. Following are some examples of reinforcement: Verbal ―Good job on ___________!‖ ―You are really doing much better on __________!‖ ―I like the way you did ___________.‖ ―This looks much better than last time.‖ ―You have really improved your ______________.‖ ―You have been working so hard. I’m proud of your effort.‖ ―All right!‖ ―Fantastic!‖ ―Super!‖ ―Way to go!‖ Nonverbal Use facial expressions—smile, look surprised. Nod your head. High-five, thumbs up signs. Be careful with pats on the back or other touching, as some tutees may be touch-sensitive and feel uncomfortable with this kind of contact. Reinforcements help tutees have a sense of accomplishment, provide a reward, and give them an incentive to do more. After all, everyone wants recognition, and praise shows you noticed and you care! Responding to Student Errors Correcting students when they make mistakes can be tricky, and sometimes difficult. As a tutor, you want to guide them to make their own decisions. Yet you cannot let them practice misinformation. Effective tutors can use these five ways of responding to student errors: 1.Ignoring. Don’t pick on every single little error unless it will significantly affect the overall outcome. Sometimes it is more important for a student to understand the general concept or main idea. 2.Forestalling. By continually monitoring understanding, the tutor can forestall misconceptions and keep a tutee from heading down the wrong path by asking leading questions or providing hints to help tutees think about the direction they have taken and redirect misinformation. 3.Intervening. Sometimes it is necessary to directly intervene, especially when the error is trivial or when immediate correction is necessary to prevent the error from occurring again. Immediately pointing out careless mistakes can help prevent the tutee from getting distracted by a minor detail. 4. Debugging. When unanticipated errors have occurred, expert tutors ask questions or provide hints to help the tutee correct mistakes for themselves. If this fails, back up and walk the tutee through the learning process one step at a time. This will usually confirm where there is a breakdown in the student’s understanding, and tutoring can resume at this point. 5.Reflecting. Ask the student to summarize or relate how he/she arrived at the answer. Knowing your tutee and having built good rapport will make it easier for the tutor to ascertain if a mistake has actually been made. On occasion, there may be more than one way of solving a problem or more than one way of looking at an issue. What was originally perceived as a mistake may in reality be a correct answer from a different perspective. Recipe for Success To quote Karan Hancock*: ―Master tutors really are like master chefs. They both take the unprepared and the underprepared and with a little help from a dash of that, a bit of this, a dollop of spice, or a twist of something else, they help prepare and create something wonderful: the gourmet meal or the successful student who can now take charge of his/her own academic recipes. Bon Appetit and Successful Tutoring!‖ *Hancock, Karan. ―The Tutor Recipe Book: Ingredients for Successful and Healthy Tutoring for the Tutor and the Tutee‖ in Tutor Training Handbook, by Tom Gier and Karan Hancock, College Reading and Learning Association, Anchorage, Alaska, 1996.
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