What are the qualities of a good tutor?
There is a common misconception that a successful tutor must have stellar academic qualifications in the relevant subject and nothing more. Surely a PhD in Maths would equip anyone to teach KS1 and KS2 Maths effectively?
Academic qualifications and technical skills are important, but are largely redundant if a tutor fails to convey their knowledge to the student. Effective tuition relies on much more than academic and technical skills; it requires a tutor to be passionate about the subject, to teach creatively, to communicate with the student, and observe and adapt to the student’s learning style. This post explores these qualities further and explains why they are just as crucial to being a successful tutor.
Preparation is a key building-block of a successful tutor. It typically involves the tutor speaking to parents and/or the students about their objectives and expectations before or during the first lesson and being well-versed in the relevant subject and syllabus. It also involves the tutor planning lessons and adapting teaching techniques to meet the student’s objectives and learning style.
For instance, a student seeking private tuition in order to pass upcoming GCSE exams will typically require lessons to focus on the relevant syllabuses, with exercises and homework being based on past exam questions. Conversely, a student receiving coaching or tuition ahead of school entrance interviews will need to practise responses to mock interview questions and discuss feedback. The preparation for each scenario will be wholly different.
Successful tutors are also willing and able to adapt the pace, style and energy of their lessons if needs be. This may be in response to a student’s learning progressing faster or slower than expected. It could also relate to the student’s personality which, as lessons progress, may respond better to visual rather than verbal teaching styles.
Any significant changes to an agreed lesson plan will need to be discussed with parents or guardians. However, tutors should feel comfortable decreasing the tempo of a lesson immediately if a student finds certain aspects of lessons challenging. This enables a tutor to integrate different activities and teaching methods to enable the student to tackle areas of difficulty.
One of the key qualities of good tutors is their ability to provide students with tailored feedback. Providing constructive feedback to students encourages them to reach answers and draw conclusions autonomously. It also helps students grow in confidence in the relevant subject, achieve their desired grades and perhaps even continue their education in the subject into adulthood.
Academic qualifications may therefore be a pre-requisite to becoming a tutor, but they do not guarantee success on their own. The best tutors are those who inspire and motivate a student to learn, for the purpose of exams or for sheer enjoyment. This relies, not only on technical ability, but on preparation, adaptability, the ability to communicate effectively with the student and provide constructive feedback.
If you have any questions about private tuition for your child and or you are considering becoming a private tutor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3731 0731.