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By Megan Swets

5 practices you should adopt to be a great tutor

Being a tutor is hard work, but there are a few things you can do as a tutor to ensure your students get the most out of every session.

1. Welcome your student with a smile!

Nothing makes for a bad session faster than a surly start. At the start of every session, smile at your student so they know you are here to help–after all, you are! Tutors have to be special people to want to facilitate another person's learning, so show that passion for helping others right from the start by smiling and being friendly. Even just smiling and asking about their day makes the student more excited to talk with you about their schoolwork.

2. Ask questions to point out mistakes

Mistakes in any field are usually either a result of a fundamental misunderstanding or an accidental slip-up. Either way, asking "Why did you multiply before resolving the fraction," or "Why is this comma here," will make clear to you what misunderstanding the student has, or help them learn how to better recognize the slip-ups in their work. If they explain how they were thinking about the problem, you will better understand why they made the mistake, and therefore be better able to fix the root of the problem. If a tutor just fixes the problem for the student, the student does not in comprehension, and their process of thinking about the subject matter will not have changed.

3. Give compliments as well as criticisms

When deep in a session, pointing out the next issue to be fixed is a natural inclination. However, students can feel exhausted and demoralized after a half-hour or an hour of relentless criticisms, no matter how constructive. By sprinkling compliments into a session, your student will emerge, maybe still exhausted by a rigorous session, but excited to continue building their knowledge and improving their performance in a subject.

4. Be an excited participant in learning

As a tutor, it can be easy to feel like you know all of the answers. That's why someone's coming to be tutored by you, right? Actually, the best attitude for a tutor to have is to be excited to learn more and participate in your student's learning process. You might know a lot about whatever your student is studying, but you never know what new and interesting things your student might have to teach you! Even more importantly, an excited attitude can be contagious, meaning your student will be more interested in learning if you showcase an excitement they can imitate.

5. Respect your students

Everyone wants to be respected. Students will, to a degree, unconsciously mimic the way you act during sessions. If you show respect to your students, they will be more likely to respect you and want to learn from you. Additionally, students that go to a tutor often have low self esteem about the subject with which you're helping them. By recognizing them as people worthy of respect, you are making your students more likely to value themselves and improve their performance.

Essentially, being a tutor is helping a student learn to recognize and solve mistakes in their work. By using these five tips to be a great tutor, you will be better preparing your students.

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