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7 Qualities of a Great Online Tutor
Becoming an online tutor can be a rewarding experience for you and your tutees. Not only do you get to see your tutee improve personally and academically, but you also experience invaluable growth throughout the tutoring process. A key factor that influences the effectiveness of this process is enjoyability.
By regularly examining your tutoring sessions, you can determine if they’re still enjoyable for you and your tutees. This will help you to identify if you have gotten into a teaching rut. Such a stumbling block can interfere with the effectiveness of your sessions.
As an online tutor, being aware of these barriers can help you work towards creating an enjoyable experience for both you and your tutee. After all, these are the environments that cultivate the most success. Whether you want to revamp your tutoring approach or you want to make your sessions more effective, we’ve got tips to help you achieve your goals.
Here we will discuss ways that you can identify when change is beneficial and how to go about implementing factors that can help you to make these positive changes.
As a volunteer tutor, you play a very different role in your tutee’s life as opposed to the role of your tutee’s parents or school teachers. This puts you in a unique position to offer support to the student that is different from the kind of support they get from others.
Due to the nature of this type of relationship, your role as a tutor is directly related to helping your tutee thrive. The less effective your approach, the less the tutee will gain from your programme. This means that it is important that the relationship between student and teacher is built on mutual trust and respect. This is just one of the things that a successful tutor does.
The more connected your student feels, the better your student will learn and apply themselves during the programme. It may help to spend time getting to know your tutee better. Ask them about their hobbies, interests, or career aspirations. When you incorporate these into your lessons, you are bound to wind up teacher of the year!
Another way to build a strong relationship is to listen carefully to your student. Without realising it, they could be telling you where they feel you need to adjust your teaching technique. Be attentive when they express themselves and make changes where needed.
Set Definite Goals for Your Tutees
As an online tutor, it is a great idea to set learning goals for your students. This will help give them a clear idea of what they need to work towards achieving in a given period. You can use the information you gained from their assessments and your initial meeting with their parents to determine clear learning objectives.
These goals can then be broken down into short and long term goals. For example, you can set goals for each lesson, then per week, and finally per 12-week programme. When completing your pupil progress planner, write down what information was covered in your session and what needs to be completed in the next session to reach your desired goals.
Allow for flexibility where, if you notice that your tutee is not meeting their set goals, you may decide to re-evaluate these goals or consider adjusting your teaching approach or style. You may want to regularly review the goals to determine your tutee’s progress.
Involving your tutee in the planning process and setting goals will help them to understand how important these are and motivate them to work towards achieving these goals. Allowing your tutee to feel like they have a say in the process will increase their accountability to attaining their goals.
Make Your Sessions Challenging and Productive
Being a successful online tutor means making learning relevant to your student. It is also rooted in having a good understanding of the topic you are teaching including various concepts, ideas and principles. By focusing on content relevant to your tutee’s situation, your sessions will be more productive.
A successful tutor will thus be able to adapt any teaching content to suit the needs of their student. For example, you may transform learning content into effective project-based activities or provide opportunities for real, hands-on work instead of abstract assignments or rote worksheets.
Try to provide your tutees with the opportunity for both academic and practical approaches to learning. It helps to make sure that your sessions challenge the student. Be careful not to overchallenge them. This is a common reason for the student to lose interest. Aim for a balance where the content is stimulating but not impossible to grasp.
Prepare in Advance
To be a successful volunteer tutor, you will need to set sufficient time aside to prepare. The students that you tutor are all different. They respond differently to various teaching methods and materials. When you prepare a session, it is useful to keep your tutee’s interests and needs in mind.
You can start by asking yourself what material and approach would suit them best. It could be that some respond better to tactile learning, while other students prefer a lecture style of learning. Whatever the case may be, adjust the session to meet the student’s needs.
Aim to teach your tutee something new in every lesson. You can also focus on building on previous knowledge. It is useful to include homework for them in your preparation. This helps tutees to put what they have learned into practice.
The materials that you prepare in advance should be from reputable sources. Aim to use content that is in line with the goals that you set in your lesson progress planner. Aim to use materials that serve a purpose rather than using these to try to pass time.
You can also request that your student send you any information that he needs help with before the session. During your preparations, you can then add this to the lesson. This will give you time to think of ways to best explain or present the work to your tutee.
Have Clear Expectations
It is helpful for your tutee to have a clear understanding of what is required of them and what goals you are both trying to achieve with the programme. These expectations could include how much time your tutee should try to set aside for homework and extra practice.
Try to set realistic expectations as a student may also be very busy with school work and other extracurricular activities. These should be discussed with your tutee at the beginning of the programme. It is a good idea to note these down so that you can refer back to them.
Try to show your student the benefits of meeting these expectations with simple rewards. Being flexible during the process is important. Especially as your tutee’s circumstances change. This means making adjustments where necessary if your tutee’s workload increases.
By doing so, your tutee will enjoy their sessions rather than stress about them.
Be Professional and Organised
As an online tutor, the way you approach the session influences the outcome. Be mindful of approaching the session with a lack of enthusiasm, the student may sense this and could potentially view the sessions with the same disposition.
Even though it is a volunteer tutor role that you are filling, always professionally approach your sessions. This approach shows that you take the learning process seriously and this motivates the student to view it the same way.
Here are some factors of professionalism that you can focus on:
- Booking your lessons in advance and confirming the date and time of the lessons
- Practising punctuality so that you set the precedent for your students
- Communicating openly with the tutee’s parents regarding challenges
- Being prepared for sessions by planning enough content to cover during the lesson that it is relevant to the student
- Showing empathy and understanding to your students and treating them with respect
Being organised will help you to have a considerable impact during your sessions as an online tutor. If you have an untidy work area, messy notes, or no clear thought pattern, this will be evident in your teaching. Your tutee may think that you are not serious about helping them.
It is always great when you take pride in your sessions by having a neat work area, having notes that are legible and being well organised. Your students will see your approach and understand how being organised can lead to more effective learning sessions. You can even show your student how organisational skills can promote clear thinking in any environment.
Encourage Critical Thinking
As an online tutor, try to encourage your student to go beyond fact memorisation. Effective tutors like to motivate their students to share their opinions about various subjects, analyse new ideas, and ask questions about the information they don’t understand.
Motivate your student to think about the bigger picture and where this information fits in. How can it be applied in real-life situations, how does this knowledge build on what I know now, or how will this help me to understand something new in the future? You can do this by showing them how to become problem solvers and develop critical thinking skills.
This is achieved by applying what they have learned by giving them a real-life problem where they can put their newfound knowledge into practice.
The Bottom Line
The key to becoming a successful tutor is to always look for ways to improve your methods. By being open to growth and positive criticism, you can work towards making each lesson an effective one. Your tutees look to you for advice and guidance on how to improve in various aspects of their life. Your role as a tutor is directly related to helping your tutees work towards a better future. So, try to make the most out of the time you have with them by making your lessons fulfilling and enjoyable.
At GT Scholars, we run a range of tutoring, mentoring and enrichment programmes for young people, aged 11-18, across the UK. If you’d like to sign up as a volunteer tutor or mentor, you can get in touch with us by clicking here.