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Being a good online tutor means your sessions with your students are meaningful and impactful. So, what can you do to improve your tutoring style and make your lessons stand out? First and foremost, a good tutor needs to have a deep knowledge of the subject they are teaching.
Secondly, there are certain “soft skills” that go beyond just having knowledge of the material. These soft skills help you to take the information that you have and share it with your students. These soft skills may not come naturally to everyone but they can be learned and strengthened with practice!
Just like soft skills, hard skills are important too and refer to how well you can do tasks relating to your job. These could be tasks like setting lesson plans, using a PowerPoint presentation for your lessons or anything else that requires a “know-how” skill.
In this article, we’ll be discussing some of the skills that tutors need, and how improving on these will help you to up-skill your tutoring style.
Effective communication means doing more than exchanging information with someone. It is important as an online tutor to listen clearly to what your student is saying. You also have to understand the emotion and intention of the conversation.
There is a lot involved when it comes to being an effective communicator. It’s good to know that communication skills can be learned, so don’t worry if this is an area you struggle with!
Why Be a Good Communicator?
Being a good communicator is key to being able to conduct effective tutoring sessions. It’s the ability to listen to your students and understand their needs. This helps you to make your lessons more relatable to your students. Effective communication will also help establish a good relationship with your student and contributes positively to your tutoring style.
The Role of Active Listening
This is necessary for effective communication and rapport building with your students and their parents. Many of us are still mastering the skill of active listening. It’s easy to find ourselves hearing the words our student is speaking, but not actively listening to them or being preoccupied with other thoughts. So we are missing out on important information that they may be telling us.
If we don’t take the time to actively listen, and understand what our student is telling us, we will not learn about their needs. Active listening is thus a key part of the tutoring skills that you need to develop.
How Do I Listen Actively?
Active listening is the process where you direct your attention toward the speaker by taking notes, maintaining eye contact, nodding, and asking clarification questions where needed. By developing strong listening, speaking and observation skills as an online tutor, you can create a high-quality learning environment.
To show that you understand what your student is saying, you could give a short review of how you understood their point. Each student is different and expresses themselves in their own way. You can learn how your students speak so that you can learn how to understand them. Sometimes, you may find that you need to change the questions you ask to suit their communication style.
Another important thing to do is to take note of your student’s body language. This could tell you that they are uncertain or don’t understand certain points. Take note if they are folding their arms, or have a confused look on their face. This type of body language may signal that you need to change your tutoring or teaching approach.
Speak So That Your Students Understand
Speaking is another skill that tutors should focus on. If you speak too quickly, you could leave your student feeling confused and frustrated. Speaking too slowly, on the other hand, could lead to your student losing focus.
To improve in speaking, consider conducting a trial session with a friend and ask for feedback. You could also record yourself and see if there is any room for improvement. Listen to the modulation of your voice. Is the pitch, pace, and power of your speaking at an acceptable level? Do you pause to see if your student is following along?
As a tutor who will be conducting most of your sessions online, make sure that the mic you are using is set to a comfortable level for your student. It is also important to make sure there are no background sounds that could cause distractions during your session.
Strengthen Your Teaching Abilities
Teaching involves far more than just the ability to speak well. Teaching ability is the skill of taking your knowledge and delivering it to your student in a way that they will understand. If you are unable to teach well, your student may be unable to apply the knowledge that you are giving them. Here are some tips on how to strengthen your teaching or tutoring skills.
Build More Self-Confidence
It is important to have confidence in your teaching abilities as having low self-confidence could affect your tutoring style. Tutors who struggle with confidence could come across as being unprepared, nervous, uninterested or disorganised – even when that’s not the case. Ultimately, students can tell whether their tutor is confident or not.
To gain confidence in yourself and your teaching abilities, you need to know your subject content well. You may also look into innovative and new ways of teaching. Another thing that you can do is to spend some time reading up on developments and trends that are taking place in education.
Finally, read forums and see which methods other tutors are finding useful. By giving yourself the tools you need and by being more prepared, you are likely to feel more confident.
Listen to Your Students’ Interests
Why is it important for online tutors to consider their students’ interests? Knowing their interests is a powerful motivational tool as it relates what they are learning to what they like. It helps to keep students engaged during the session and will energise their learning experience.
You could also try out a more student-focused learning approach by asking your students to share their thoughts and opinions on different subjects or topics. By engaging with your student during the learning process you gain confidence knowing which areas you are having an impact on and learning which areas need improvement.
Design the Lesson around Your Student’s Learning Style
To become an online tutor who makes a difference, it is important to note that students have unique learning styles. Some are reflective, meaning they like to prepare before each tutoring session. They are likely to prefer having the material beforehand. This allows them to feel confident in the material you will be covering.
On the other hand, some students may be tactile learners who prefer a more hands-on approach. Such students prefer to learn as they go, seeing how their new knowledge applies to real-life situations. While other students may respond better to a more visual learning style using images, diagrams and videos.
Knowing this ahead of time will help you to design lesson plans that are inspiring. By adapting your tutoring approach you will bring the best out of each student. So it’s helpful to spend time getting to know each student’s learning style.
Have a Positive Mindset
Having a great mindset is one of the many qualities of a good tutor. It means finding the good in situations and believing that all challenges have a solution. This is the best thing you can do as a tutor to inspire your students to think about their learning positively. Here are some qualities that help you to develop a positive mindset:
Patience is the ability to remain calm and respectful in any situation. By staying calm and approaching your student with patience, your session will run smoothly and you can help your student learn to be more patient with themselves during the learning process.
Remember that even though you are an online tutor, you are still a role model to your students. Showing a lack of patience will make the lesson uncomfortable for your student. A patient tutor is also likely to be more adaptable to different teaching environments. By being patient, you will learn alternative teaching tactics that can be applied and become an effective and well-rounded tutor.
The teaching environment changes a lot so it is good to be adaptable. This shows that you are resourceful and determined to succeed as a tutor no matter what. By being adaptable you will also teach your student to be flexible when it comes to learning.
Being adaptable also means changing up your tutoring approach and style if you see that your student is not engaging or showing interest.
Empathy allows you to connect with your students and is one of the most important tutor skills to have. Being empathetic will help you to understand any challenges that your students are facing. It also allows you to work through any learning challenges together.
To show empathy, try putting yourself in your student’s position. For example, you could ask yourself, why are they not doing their homework? What is holding them back from showing confidence? Thinking about their challenges could help you to understand your student and work with them to overcome these barriers.
Another way to connect with your student is to share common interests with them. These could be shared hobbies, interests, or stories about yourself. Doing this will allow your students to relate to you as a person which ultimately leads to better relationship building.
Smile and Have a Friendly Attitude
Having a friendly attitude is another essential quality for a good online tutor to develop. Your students will feel more confident to approach you when you express a friendly attitude toward them. It is also likely to motivate students to learn and improves your tutoring style!
When your student sees you as being approachable, they’ll also feel more comfortable asking questions and engaging with you. A friendly disposition will enhance student-teacher communication and create a more positive learning environment.
Focus on Classroom Management
It is important to manage your classroom well because chaos can lead to less effective learning. By making sure your classroom and lesson management strategies are in place, you ensure that any learning that takes place is meaningful.
Build On Your Problem Solving Skills
Being a good problem-solver is another skill to add to the qualities of a good tutor. You will be able to identify any problems that could hinder the learning experience. Try to see what is holding them back from fully understanding a subject before you even begin the teaching process.
By solving these problems that slow down progress, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t in your particular learning environment. If something does not seem to be working, then you can find a solution that works for you and your students.
The Role That Being Organized Plays
Being organized plays an essential role in being a good online tutor or tutor. It allows you to work towards meeting and completing deadlines, expectations, and tasks. To do this effectively, you could make notes after the class, jotting down anything that you need to keep in mind for the next session.
This way, you will know what you need to prepare for the next session. You will also know how your student is progressing and will be in a better position to inform students of what is expected of them. If you set an example of being well organised, your student will understand how important it is and how it contributes to reaching goals.
Be a Good Time Manager
Another useful skill for tutors is time management. This helps you to ensure that everything that you planned is covered during the lesson. Additionally, staying on task allows you to make sure that none of your lesson time is wasted.
It helps to take note of the time you need to spend on each task during your lesson. Share this with your student so that they can be part of the time management process. Remember to be flexible in your tutoring style as you may find that you may need more time for certain activities and that others go faster. It’s always good to have something extra prepared.
Make use of Technology as an Online Tutor
In the modern world of teaching, there’s no denying the difference that technology can make for your lessons. That’s why we believe that shaping your skills in this domain is important when you work towards achieving your full potential as a tutor.
How is Technology Changing the Way We Teach?
Technology has had a noticeable impact on teachers and tutors in the past few years. You now have access to online collaboration platforms that allow you to conduct a lesson from any location in a more engaging way. You also have access to assessment tools to help assess the level of your students, which will help you build individual plans for each student.
Technology has also made lesson preparation easier due to the abundance of material that is available online. Additionally, technology has given us more in-class resources such as smart boards and easy access to presentations, videos and more.
What Can You Do to Keep Up With Technological Trends as an Online Tutor?
Firstly, become familiar with the technology that is available to make your sessions better. Find apps, tools, and worksheets that will make your lessons more impactful. Always make sure to learn the ins and outs of the software you are using before the session so that it doesn’t end up slowing your lesson down instead of aiding it.
Secondly, read educational blogs or join forums where you can network with other tutors. This allows you to share different ideas and to learn about other useful resources. You can look for forums that allow you to collaborate with others and share information.
Lastly, subscribe to an e-newsletter. Instead of spending time searching for information, a newsletter can keep you up to date with the latest trends. Another advantage of a newsletter is that because it comes to you via email, you can catch up on your reading while commuting on the underground.
You can click here to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest updates on education trends!
Each lesson should have a goal and purpose. A skilled online tutor is always looking for ways to improve the quality of their teaching methods and lessons. By upskilling your tutoring style, you ultimately work towards being a teacher that makes learning meaningful and impactful.
This may mean taking a little more time to prepare but the results will be worth it and will help you to discover your tutoring style. By upskilling your tutoring style, you’ll approach your lessons with confidence, and your students will see how your lessons are helping them to reach their academic goals.
Being a tutor is one of the most enriching experiences. Knowing the difference you are making in the lives of young people is motivating. If volunteering as an online tutor with GT Scholars is something that you’d like to find out more about, you can contact us here.