Tutors represent an integral part of a student’s academic career. The best tutors don’t just lecture their students, they find a way to enhance the learning process and create a well-rounded lesson plan. Tutoring online can be trickier than conventional means, but there are many ways that tutors can become better teachers for their students.
Be Personally Invested
In order to be an effective online tutor, you must take on a personal stake in the success of your students. This means regularly scheduling appointments with them and showing up on time. It also means that communication should be constant. Don’t disappear between sessions, but remain an active part in the school life of all your students. You can message them through email or text, however, it can be more effective to arrange regular review sessions in order to evaluate and discuss their progress.
The key is to avoid your students feeling isolated in the online learning environment, because the more detached they feel, the less motivated they will be. Help foster a personal connection by sharing information about yourself. You can start with an icebreaker for first-time students, and introduce personal hobbies, side interests, and other personal information that can help build trust. To help maintain a personal touch, have your students evaluate your lessons and ask them what they might change.
For students who seem particularly challenged by their lessons or the online environment, don’t be afraid to reach out in between sessions and ask if they need help. By reaching out to them, they will know that they are not alone. This can go a long way toward getting a struggling student to become more invested in their work, and more trusting of your assistance in the future.
Understand Your Students
Every student learns differently, and as a tutor it is your job to identify how best they learn and what you can do to improve tutoring sessions. You should start by discovering what learning type they most identify with. Some students are visual learners, who respond best to visual information. Some are auditory learners who need information to be told to them verbally. Reading and writing learners study their own exhaustive notes in order to understand something. Kinesthetic learners require hands-on experience. By knowing where your student falls, you can personalize their lessons to make them as effective as possible.
It’s also crucial to identify how your students approach learning. Some remain very engaged, often discussing what they know and starting conversations around the subject matter. Others are more passive, instead preferring to read about a subject in their own time without engaging directly with others. Learn to understand the difference to keep each type of student comfortable. You want to engage with and push each type at the right level.
That being said, it’s a good idea to avoid falling into a formula. Make sure you are switching things up to make lessons more fun and less of a bore. Being too rigid can make students tune out and get very little out of your sessions together. Even the most disciplined of learners need to freshen things up every now and again. You can do this by introducing them to new ways they can learn, like online resources, podcasts, and blogs.
Don’t be afraid to share your own learning experiences with your students. As a tutor, you know helpful learning strategies and techniques that they aren’t aware of. Introduce mnemonic devices and mind maps to remember information, or provide them with advice as simple as reading out loud, recording themselves and listening to it, or re-writing notes. Even the simplest learning techniques can help a struggling student turn things around.
Your students are going to be technologically savvy, which means you should be too. While some technology can be distracting, there are plenty of tools out there that can help enhance online learning. These tools can help improve the learning process by assisting students as you teach them. They can also help create a much more fun, interactive environment for your student than simply having them listen to your lecture. Research the tools out there available to you, and determine how best you can use them to enhance what you offer.
It’s also worth considering how you can incorporate your students’ own technology into your tutoring sessions. Most students own a smartphone, tablet, or other device, which can then offer content that is supplementary to your lessons. There are many different learning apps that offer additional assistance in multiple subjects. It can be helpful to introduce these programs as a means to reinforce your lessons in between sessions.
Work With Parents and Teachers
The parents and teachers of your students play a very active role in the academic lives of your students. Whenever you can, it’s always helpful to consult with them about how best to approach your lessons. Talk to the parents about setting up goals and creating clear benchmarks. Collaborate with teachers to leverage the key insights they have into the capabilities and needs of your students. By communicating with all stakeholders, you will be able to establish a more robust plan for success.