Six Things Students and Tutors Should do BEFORE an Initial Tutoring Session
The initial tutoring session is perhaps the most important tutoring session. It’s a critical opportunity to establish good rapport, set expectations, develop a study plan, and set a precedent for constructive sessions. Waiting until the second or third session to truly establish expectations or a study plan can lead to students feeling as though the tutoring isn’t proving productive. In fact, in many cases, the primary reason a tutoring session “fails” is because objectives weren’t set in advance and thus expectations weren’t aligned.
Here are six things that you can do to ensure that an initial tutoring session is highly effective and productive.1. Share details on the student’s (or your) situation for full context
Before you arrive to the initial tutoring session, your tutor will try to get as much academic information and context about the student’s situation as possible. Make sure to discuss with your tutor why you are seeking out tutoring and what you hope to gain from tutoring. Be prepared to answer the following questions during your initial tutoring session. Providing answers to the following questions will help your tutor get a good sense of what’s going on with you and will provide a solid basis for how your tutor should prepare for the initial tutoring session, and develop study plan.
- What course are you struggling with now? Do you struggle with the course content? Or is your academic performance based on test-taking anxiety, lack of confidence, attention deficit, etc?
- What is your learning style? Do you have strong auditory skills? Or are you more of a visual or kinetic learner?
- What is something you like about the course that you are struggling with? What is something that you dislike about the course?
- How do you take notes and prepare for tests/quizzes for this course?
Having the answers to these questions will allow your tutor to prepare a strong lesson plan for the initial tutoring session, and will allow more time for learning course content versus diagnosing the situation during the tutoring session.
2. Share materials electronically or provide an overview of current class topics (to help the tutor prepare)
Be prepared to provide an overview of your current class topics so that your tutor may get a sense of the content you are learning about in your course. Tests, quizzes, past homework assignments, and projects help your tutor get familiar with the course and how it’s being taught. It provides insights into what a teacher expects you to know, how tests and homework assignments are designed, and how well you answer short-answer or essay based questions. Based on the provided information, the tutor can review content that you should know (based on the covered topics) and work up to content that you are currently learning in class, or struggling with.
3. Set clear objectives for the sessions and articulate a good outcome
In order for tutoring to be effective, you must dedicate time to reviewing material and completing tutoring assignments outside of tutoring lessons! It is a good idea to outline the expectations that your tutor has specified in order for the lesson objectives to be met and for you to advance towards your academic goal. While your tutor is specifying the amount of work and time he/she expects you to dedicate to completing tutoring assignments each week, make sure to you let your tutor know whether or not you think that their expectations and objectives are reasonable for you to uphold based on your availability outside of school, extracurricular activities, and time need to complete school assignments. If you do have a limited amount of time to dedicate to completing tutoring assignments, try to work with your tutor to adapt tutoring assignments to fit your availability.
It is imperative that you have this conversation during the initial tutoring session with your tutor so that you understand what needs to be done in order to reach your academic goals.
4. Establish a specific place and time - and don’t be late
It goes without saying that you and your tutor should have clear communication about where and when the initial tutoring session will take place. If the tutoring session is to take place in the your home, make sure that the area where you will hold the tutoring session is clean and quiet to promote a good learning environment. If the tutoring session is taking place at a public space, such as a library or cafe, your tutor should try and arrive a few minutes earlier to secure a workspace in a quiet corner that is away from any distraction or loud noise.
While this may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many students and tutors we’ve worked with at MyGuru who call us frantically asking for the other party’s cell phone number, because they are running late, lost, or at the location, but realize they don’t know what their tutor or student looks like or where exactly they are meeting
5. Discuss cancellation and rescheduling policies
Before the initial tutoring session takes place, you should make sure to understand your tutor’s cancellation and re-scheduling policies. It’s best to discuss these policies before the first session, as opposed to when a cancellation occurs, so as to avoid an awkward conversation. It’s also a good idea to ask your tutor to send an email communication documenting his/her cancellation and rescheduling policy so that you have a copy that you can refer to at anytime.
6. Share contact information to communicate in case one party is late/lost, etc.
This one is, again, obvious, but so important that we call it out separately. Go back to #4 above. If you are late, or you are lost, or you don’t know where to meet your tutor, the situation is much less stressful if you’ve shared your respective phone numbers.
It’s best practice to share your email address and your cellphone number with your tutor, and obtain their contact information so as to communicate effectively. By having each other’s contact information, you can quickly notify your tutor if you are running late, if you are lost, or if you have to cancel a tutoring session at the last minute.
Taking the time to do these six simple things will ensure that you and your tutor are prepared for the initial tutoring session, and it will set a good precedent for accomplishing your academic goals.