How do I prepare for my first tutoring session?
No two students are the same; some may be visual learners, others may learn by listening, and others may need to engage in physical activity to motivate them to learn. While it is challenging to cater to multiple students’ learning styles in a classroom, one-on-one private tuition can do just that. Tutors design bespoke lesson plans, which identify relevant learning goals and enable the student to achieve them. They can also build a student’s confidence in a subject, which can have a positive effect on their long-term learning.
Given the potential impact of private tuition, expectations among students and parents are often high. Tutors can feel under pressure to deliver positive results as quickly as possible. However, progress takes time. Initially, this will rely on the tutor learning from the student, particularly during the first lesson. Tutors should take a few minutes during the lesson to learn more about the student’s needs, so they can build rapport and plan lessons the student will find fun and fulfilling.
In this post, we discuss some key tips for tutors embarking on their first lesson to ensure they run as smoothly as possible.
Do your research
If possible, arrange a time to have an initial discussion with the student and/or their parents to discuss why they think tutoring could be helpful. Identify the syllabus that needs to be taught and the specific topics to be covered. Find out more about the subject areas the student is struggling with (if at all), and what the student is motivated by. What hobbies does (s)he have and what subjects does (s)he most enjoy and why?
For example, you might find that a student feels apprehensive about starting private tuition or may be reluctant to engage with the subject being taught. This could be linked to low self-esteem, a lack of interest or a number of other distractions. Establishing these causes can help you to adjust the tone of your teaching. Awareness of the student’s favourite hobbies can help you design activities that are engaging and relevant to their daily life.
Start your first lesson by introducing yourself and finding out more about your student directly. Remember to be enthusiastic and reassure the student that you are there to help; encourage them to ask questions and let you know when something is unclear.
Let the student explain what they hope to get out of tutoring and which topics they find challenging. Giving the student space to discuss areas (s)he finds tricky and why, can also help to identify any self-confidence issues which you may need to address in your lesson plan.
It goes without saying that a calm and quiet environment is important to support a student’s learning. The fewer distractions, the better. Having the right textbooks and stationary with you can also save time if the student forgets theirs.
After the first lesson, it is always useful to share and discuss your lesson plan with the student and their parent(s). This enables them to track improvement, revise topics covered and, importantly, manage their expectations!
Finally, don’t forget to check in regularly with your student in subsequent lessons. A student’s attention may wax and wane, they may be struggling silently or mastering topics faster than anticipated. Be responsive to these changing circumstances and flexible enough to adjust your lesson plan if needs be.