5 Ways to Up-skill Your Tutoring Style

5 Ways to Up-skill Your Tutoring Style

Volunteer tutors What's new?

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.

Communicate Effectively

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:

Be Patient 

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.

Be Adaptable

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. 

Have Empathy

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!

To Conclude

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.

12 Tips for Volunteer Tutors joining one of our online Tutoring Programmes

12 Tips for Volunteer Tutors joining one of our online Tutoring Programmes

Online volunteering Private tutoring Volunteer tutors Volunteers

Volunteering as an online tutor with GT Scholars can be a great and rewarding experience for both the tutor and the tutee. Whether you are an experienced online tutor with GT Scholars or just getting started, we’ve put together some great tips to ensure your tutoring sessions kick off smoothly. These tips will help you make your sessions impactful, and allow you to build a great relationship with your tutee and their parents:

1. Contact the parent within 48hrs
The first thing you’ll need to do when receiving the contact details for your tutee is to contact the tutee’s parents within 48hours to introduce yourself and to set up the first tutoring session. Try not to delay the introduction call, because the programme is time sensitive and the sooner you set up your first session the better. Your first session will be your planning session and you’ll get a chance to discuss academic goals and expectations with your tutee’s parents. During this meeting, parents will also share some key information about their child which will be useful throughout the tutoring process.

2. Schedule regular sessions
When scheduling your tutoring sessions, consider keeping your sessions on the same weekday and at the same time in order to create a routine, ultimately deciding on dates and times that works best for you and your tutee. You will have 10 sessions throughout the term. If you can’t make a weekly session or your tutee has notified you in advance that they won’t be available, then sessions can be made up for by having 2 sessions the week prior, after that week or extend the next two sessions by 30min to make up for the missed session. Try to keep your sessions regular and consistent to set a good structure with some flexibility.  

3. Always have video interaction
Amongst the most important parts of building a relationship with someone is being able to see them. You will be meeting with your tutee for the first time and putting a face to a name can help you establish a connection and also translate tone over the phone. Video calls also help by keeping the sessions fun and interactive. There are many benefits to video interaction such as teaching complex or visual subjects like Maths. Video sessions will create a great platform where it will be easier to have feedback and assist your tutee.

4. Never arrange tutoring sessions directly with your tutee
When making arrangements for sessions, remember to always contact the parents and never arrange sessions with the tutee directly. You could set up a 3-way WhatsApp group for you, the parent, and the tutee so that communication is clear and everybody is on board with the arrangement and schedule. If the parent insists on contacting their child directly, please notify us and we can talk to the parent about this.

5. Use the start of term assessment material to guide your sessions
At the start of the term, your tutee will receive a start of term assessment. You’ll receive the same assessment including the mark scheme for this assessment to review your tutee’s work. Ideally, your tutee should complete the start of term assessment before your first tutoring session, so you have a good starting point to work from but you can also complete the assessment together during your first session and assign some questions as homework to review at your next tutoring session. In your first online tutoring session, ask the tutee questions about their learning style, and see if you can adapt your session to match their needs.  

6. Try to be consistent with your tutoring schedule
Keeping your sessions regular and consistent will help to build a structure for both you and your tutee. Try to always stick to the schedule but also keep in mind that being flexible in how you approach your role as a volunteer tutor may be the key to a smooth working relationship.  Be mindful of the fact that students come from many different backgrounds and cultures, so you would want to avoid making assumptions or generalizations about students and their experiences. 

7. Know when to make up for missed sessions
Any sessions that were cancelled from your side should be made up. If your tutee can’t make a session and has notified you in advance, the session can be rescheduled. Any last minute cancellations by the parent i.e on the previous day or the day will count as a missed session. If a tutee does not show up for a session, it will also count as a missed session.  Please let us know as soon as possible if the tutee continues to miss sessions or postpone sessions. We have an 80% attendance policy and ideally, sessions should not run over the end of term date. 

8. Use the resources section
After the initial start of term assessment, you’ll have a good starting point to create the ultimate tutoring plan. Take note of your tutee’s learning style and also ask your tutee if there is anything specific that he/she is struggling with and would like your help with. Knowing what your tutee’s needs are will really help you in planning your sessions and make them impactful. You can make use of the resource section and the Learning Directory to keep your sessions interesting and engaging.

9. Be prepared
Before you start your sessions you may want to take some time to read through the tutoring handbook. This handbook provides all the information you’ll need to guide you through the tutoring process and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at any time. 

10. Complete your progress planner after each session
Throughout the term and after each session you can use the Pupil Progress Planner to make notes that can be used to refer back to. Please keep track of the date and times of the sessions, the number of sessions, and if there were any missed sessions. You will also be able to use these notes at a later stage in order to give proper feedback and track the progress that was made throughout the term.

11. End of term report
The end term report will enable us to monitor the effectiveness of the tutoring programme. Aim to identify the tutee’s key strengths and areas that they will need extra help with. Your feedback will be valuable to your tutee and the parents and it will give them a birds eye view of what progress was made and what areas need to be focussed on. Keep in mind that your feedback will be important to your tutee and will also be a source of encouragement to the tutee.

12. Remember, we are here to help you
We have a fantastic support team who is on standby to help you if you experience any problems or need assistance during the term. Our programme manager will be in touch with you during the duration of the term, to check in with you and to make sure your sessions are running smoothly. But please do get in touch if there’s anything you’d like to discuss with us in between the check-in calls.

7 Personal Qualities of a Good Tutor

7 Personal Qualities of a Good Tutor

Other Volunteer Roles Private tutoring Volunteer tutors Volunteers What's new?

Tutors have risen in popularity over the past few years due to a growing need for personalised learning and the noticeable benefits of one-on-one teaching. According to a report done by a social mobility charity, Sutton Trust, the number of 11 to 16-year-olds in England and Wales who receive extra tuition rose from 18% in 2005 to 25% in 2016. In London, the figure is even higher at 42%. They also noted that this private tuition mostly benefitted students from high-income backgrounds, widening the gap between students from different backgrounds.

Many parents want to ensure that their child does not fall behind, while students want to have a tutor that can support them with the subject knowledge, guide them through the challenging topics, and ultimately help them finish the year with a grade that they can be proud of.

Additionally, it is evident that a  good quality tutor can be the difference between passing or failing at GCSE level, which can have a huge consequence on the student’s future. Therefore, a tutor needs to be good at what they do if they want to make a positive and lasting impact on a young person’s life.

Tutoring is not just about having the subject knowledge. One-on-one tutoring requires a certain amount of patience, adaptability and tenacity. Thus, it takes a special combination of personal qualities to be someone who can help a child to improve academically. So if you want to make sure that you have what it takes to be a good tutor, here are seven personal qualities that you should aim to improve:

  • Patience: Every student is different, and not all of them will grasp a concept easily or learn quickly. It is also most likely that the student that really needs tutoring is a student that is struggling. Thus, tutors need to be very patient. Since schools have larger classes, everyone is more or less taught at the same pace. On the other hand, tutors need to teach slowly and at a pace that the student is comfortable with – it is the main point of one-on-one tutoring. Tutors must not rush through course work or get visibly impatient with a student that is struggling. This will discourage the student from learning.


  • Expertise: A tutor needs to have a good understanding of the subject knowledge, but also needs to have the skills to teach it. They must be confident in their knowledge of the subject and be able to explain concepts easily. Good teaching skill is being able to take the subject knowledge and explaining it in such a way that the student understands it. This will include knowing where to start, being able to pace the work correctly, always checking that the child understands, being interactive, and simplifying difficult topics if need be. 


  • Adaptability: Tutors must be able to adapt themselves to every student that they work with. Since there is no universal formula, your approach must depend on the student’s individual need and the particular difficulties he or she experiences. Throughout the sessions, the tutor will have to keep track of the student’s progress and determine if you need to change your plan or approach if it is not working.


  • Energy: The student must be kept attentive to make sure that they are absorbing everything that they are being taught. This will need for the tutor to be energetic and enthusiastic. Tutoring sessions should not just be like classes at school. Tutors should be interactive, and make the coursework interesting to inspire active interest in the student so that they can do well and overcome the discouragement by school and his or her bad grades. Being energetic also motivates the student to aspire to do better.


  • Openness: Tutors need to be active listeners and demonstrate a level of openness that makes them approachable and accessible. Listening to the needs of the child will also help you to better understand the student’s situation so that you can come up with an effective plan. The tutor’s active involvement and openness will offer comforting support for a student in trouble and will make the student feel valued. Tutors can demonstrate openness by being visibly dedicated to making a difference in the student’s academics.


  • Maturity: Tutors need to display maturity to make them a good role model to their student and to make them trustworthy to the parents of the student. Parents will not trust their children with you if you are impolite, cannot pay attention, or talk about inappropriate things. It is important to note that maturity has nothing to do with your age, and everything to do with how you carry yourself. You cannot carry yourself around your student like they are your friend, no matter how easygoing and open the tutoring is.


  • Passion: Great tutors are passionate about the subject they teach and about making a difference in the student’s academic life. You need to love what you teach and show this passion by always being interested and eager. You want your students to feel that their success is important to you and that what you are teaching them is important. Passion should also be the main motivation for you to become a tutor, not money or experience.

Tutoring is important for a student’s academic development and success in their future. As you can see, tutors need to have a combination of the above good qualities to ensure that they are making an effective difference. The student is the focus and point of tutoring, and their needs to be met well.

The GT Scholars tutoring programme is designed to support young people with improving attainment in English, Maths and Science. Our volunteer tutors ensure that tutoring sessions are personalised and tailored to each student and that we give young people the support, skills and strategies that they need to achieve their ambitions. Contact us for more information about how to become a tutor with us and make a difference in a student’s life.