How do tutors teach?

You’re thinking about hiring a tutor, but you’re not exactly sure what tutors do. Part of the reason for confusion is that different tutors work differently. Below are some common tutoring styles.

Prepare lessons and teach new concepts during tutoring sessions.

In this case, the tutor is acting like a teacher: deliver content and then assign practice. This is common for tutors of home-schooled students, tutors working to help a student learn enough to skip a grade in a subject, or for tutors of younger students (elementary or early-middle school age).

Develop activities that will lead to discovery based learning.

Again, the tutor is acting as a teacher, but in this case the teacher would be described as a “guide on the side” instead of a “sage on the stage.” Some students find this a more engaging way to learn/discover new content, and some educators believe that knowledge that is discovered is more “sticky” than knowledge that is delivered.

Play games to reinforce learned concepts.

This is a great way for tutors (especially tutors of younger students) to reinforce concepts that the student is learning, and to expand the student’s zone of proximal development. Tutors will select games that best fit the student and the concept at hand.

Arrive ready for anything. (This is my default tutoring style.)

With this method, the tutor is a supplemental resource – the student’s teacher is usually the first person to introduce new concepts and the tutor’s mission is to clarify. This method works best with older students who are able to articulate what they do not understand. In this method of tutoring, the tutor is reacting to the student’s needs in the moment. Often this involves finding new ways to explain concepts taught in school, searching for the explanation that helps the student to have a “lightbulb moment” that they didn’t have in class. Usually tutors in this style arrive at a session and ask the student what they want to work on that day, and usually the session revolves around working through the student’s homework.

Is there a tutoring style that I missed? Is there one that you prefer? Let me know in the comments!


Post inspired by Online Tutoring System homework – thanks Adrienne & Angela!!

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