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Great ideas for constructing a tutoring session

By Jon, published on 27/09/2017 Blog > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > How to create the perfect private lesson

With the booming tutoring services and online tutoring market, there’s so much information out there on how to give private tutoring classes. There is also a lot of competition to become a tutor and be the best tutor you can be!

But is there one perfect class? If so, what do you think it consists of? Is there an ideal way to structure a one-on-one tutoring session?

We won’t hold you in too much suspense: the answer is no.

Why, do you ask? Simply put, the reason that there is no one, ideal structure for a private education class comes down to the fact that the students are all different. Each one of them will have a difficulty that the others will not, each will have his or her own way of learning, memorizing, working, and feeding back what they’ve learned.

What’s more, there are dozens of types of private courses: between help with homework or study skills for primary school children, online tutoring, home-taught classes, remedial classes, standardized test prep, intensive training, and even free tutoring, there is a multitude of choice.

Each course won’t require the same skills and especially the same content. Whether you are a math tutor, English tutor, science tutor, writing tutor, French tutor or ESL or instructor, you will have to adapt the content of your course to the needs and goals of the student. Perhaps the tutee simple wants to further his or her knowledge or prepare for an exam? Perhaps it’s a standard test in algebra class, or rather, a national standardized test such as the GMAT, ACT or the SATs?

Let’s begin with the premise that each learner corresponds to a type of private tutoring course. Don’t despair tutors, this is easier to figure out than you might think!

Even if there is no magic kit to help you adopt the best pedagogy, there are reflexes and techniques that will help you optimize your course for academic success, regardless of your student.

If you don’t have a local tutoring center, Superprof is a great platform to find out information and tips for tutors, tutoring jobs and other supplemental instruction. Are you still motivated to learn more? Let’s jump right in!


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Identify the student’s needs

From the first session, it is imperative to center the meeting around the needs and goals of your student.

Once the student has enrolled, the home or peer tutor should begin by asking simple questions on their current ways of working, which chapters have already been read in school, and where he or she is at currently. Then be sure to ask if there are any exams coming up, if he or she knows how to prepare, and what dictionaries and other manuals and study materials are being used.

Teacher student time Do your detective work: what are the strengths and weaknesses of your student? Source: VisualHunt.com

It is essential to work on the “communication” aspect with your student to encourage him or her to open up about what is going well and not well in class. What was it that prompted your student to find a tutor.

Of course, an academic tutoring class is not a simple exchange of goods between an instructor and student: the role of the parents also contributes to the educational and scholastic success of the child.

What’s more, in addition to asking the student about his or her classes, you must consult with the parents on the student’s work conditions and study skills, his or her motivation and ability to concentrate.

This first meeting is therefore a key moment to determine how to optimize the entire tutelage experience, whether you are there to focus on calculus, algebra, grammar or reading comprehension.

It will allow you to suss out the student’s needs, goals and to evaluate his or her shortcomings. Using this information, the private instructor can then begin to devise a personalized education program for the student.

Recognize the shortcomings and abilities of the student

To adapt the private lesson to the student, the instructor (whether in mathematics, English, chemistry or any other subject) must evaluate the abilities and shortcomings of the student.

Math equations Tutoring in math is always on high demand! Source : VisualHunt.com

To figure out how the student is progressing, the instructor can use various tools, including:

  • quizzes
  • small exercises
  • direct questions on basic lessons
  • etc.

In this way, the home tutor can determine the student’s level while measuring the scope of work to be done to achieve the desired result. This is a truly individualized process!

Determine your objectives

Global Goals

First, it’s necessary to determine the wider, long-term objectives of the student of private tutoring.

Studying Always have an objective to strive towards. Source: VisualHunt.com

For example, is there an end-of-the-year exam to prepare for? Does he take remedial classes because there are shortcomings in one subject such as English or math? Are these course to increase her level globally or to help her to better understand one chapter in particular? Does the student need general advising services?

Specific aims

Then, it’s necessary to dig a bit deeper and determine the precise and specific aims:

  • For classes in English: does the student need to study one writer in particular? Understand a literary movement? Revise grammar or spelling? Know how to write an essay outline?
  • For math tutoring: does the student need to learn a series of theorems? Are there weaknesses in geometry or algebra?
  • For classes in foreign languages: does the student have a hard time learning specific vocabulary or general comprehension? Or learning the tenses or declensions of verbs?

The more the instructor has a precise idea on what is not going well, honing in on the area of shortcoming, the better he or she can conceive and individualize the lesson.

Create an individualized learning program

For the at-home tutoring lesson to succeed, it is necessary to create it envisioning the particular student.

The instructor, who is often a veteran of the national education system (or other type of certified teacher), or looking to enter it, knows scholastic programs very well. So he or she will follow the structure of the official program, adapting it to the needs and aims of the student according to his areas of difficulty and particular mode of learning.

Don’t forget that each student has his or her particular way of learning and working: if one method isn’t working, the instructor must try another one until the student understands the class.

First identify the shortcomings of your student! Maybe your student needs more visual tools or an audio support? Or perhaps they are not used to using a dictionary or note taking? Or did they have a bad experience in school math or test taking?

Students and teachers Plan an individualized course for each student. Source: VisualHunt.com

Finally, the best means of learning something is to learn it without even realizing it! This is the same for all levels and subjects, from math tutoring and college tutoring to SAT prep.

The private tutor must try to cross over subjects and lessons to develop multiple skills and knowledge. If the student is taking Spanish classes, why not add a lesson on the population of Spain or the history of Peru? If the course is on chemistry, find a link to his or her math class?

Work on the student’s motivation

Normally, taking private one-on-one tutoring classes is not on the top of any student’s list (math tutoring does not usually equal fun), it’s often the decision of the parents (sometimes on the advice of the teacher of the discipline in question).

As a consequence, it is imperative to help the student find the motivation to keep up with these at-home lessons.

So, communication should be at the very heart of private instruction: continual feedback and student testimonials will help the home tutor to:

  • Improve his or her classes
  • Refine certain points
  • Allow the student to express him or herself honestly on goals while asking practical questions to the teacher.

Next, the home tutor must use multiple, diverse, rich and fun supporting materials.

Of course, the student’s courses and books are excellent tools to learn, revise and develop his or her capacities, so it’s essential to have a dictionary for language classes for example.

With exercises, quizzes, tests or online games, the home tutor can help students discover new and varied ways of learning, potentially lifting certain blocking points.

Lastly, you must not forget to demonstrate to your student the concrete, real-life applications of an exercise or lesson. Whether it’s for math, physics, computer science, French or another foreign language, there will be at least one or several applications in our everyday lives or in the world of business.

Maintain your student’s interest throughout the class

While the student is in the middle of a class or exercises, the home tutor shouldn’t hesitate to engage with him or her, asking questions about the topic, or what the student is actually doing. This goes for all types of supplemental instruction, from math tutoring to homework help.

Keep the dialogue constant and active. Be careful, if the response you are getting mainly is “all is well” make sure the student is actually being communicative. You might need to pose questions in other ways. A home tutor is a bit like a detective come to think of it…

This interaction allows the home tutor to reinforce the training.

If there are areas or points that are particularly challenging to your student, you must discuss them, explain why something is wrong, and offer other solutions. By understanding a problem deeply, by going beyond the simple “this isn’t right” or “that’s wrong, try again,” students will develop their own capacities to resolve a problem.

Evaluate a student’s progress

To see if a class has been understood, it is imperative to evaluate the level of the student: whether it is before, during or after a chapter, the home tutor and student must make a record of progress.

By requesting mini tests from the student, asking him to recite a course or definitions or make a presentation of the lesson, he will realize what he knows and has learned.

For the home tutor, it’s the opportunity to see what the student has learned and how he or she articulates a thought process or result.

Reward your student’s efforts

While, in traditional classes, as the student is lost in a crowd, the teacher doesn’t always get the opportunity to point out when he or she has done well. In contrast, in private instruction the student has a tutor all to him or herself.

When you want something bad enough, you can succeed! Source: VisualHunt.com

Even if the efforts are minimal, even if progress is small but constant, if the grades improve, if the student is invested and motivated to work, the home tutor must remember to recognize students’ efforts and say it aloud.

Encourage your students, recognize their strong points, be respective, and showing them that they are on the right path to academic and professional success.

Get a your desired result

In front of the student

To give relevant and useful private courses, the home tutor shouldn’t hesitate to ask a student what he or she thinks of the lesson, to assess the comprehension level of the class or chapter in question. Does the student feel he or she understands it well?

Tutor and tutee Good communication is the key to scholastic support. Source: VisualHunt.com

It is essential for the home tutor to have this concrete feedback during and after the course so that he or she can refine the structure of the class.

In front of the parents

The parents are another important factor in determining how a private tutoring lesson will go. The home tutor should also question them, also before, during and after the course to get their feedback.

Perhaps they’ve noticed an improvement in the behavior of their child or they’ve observed a clear progression in grades and teacher commentaries.

Or, on the contrary, have they remarked lower grades, less motivation?

Acquiring this outside point of view will help the private tutor improve and fine tune his or her approach with the student, and detect any eventual difficulties he or she may not have foreseen.

In front of the professors

Lastly, the private tutor can also enquire on the progress and attitude of the student to his or her main teacher: is he or she having difficulties with certain ideas, and have his or her grades improved?

Having this information on the student’s status, activities and progress in school will help boost your private instruction coursework and allow you to concentrate on what is not going well and so to not waste time.

As you can see, there is no one perfect private tutoring class. However, the home tutor can plan for an excellent pedagogical experience and can create a class perfectly adapted to his or her student by following these basic rules:

  • Paying attention to and privileging communication between the student and tutor
  • Showing interest in the student’s trajectory
  • Following the student’s progress carefully at home and in school
  • Questioning the student’s parents on his or her work and progress.

Creating a great private tutoring class is creating one that is prepared, personal and individualized, adapting to the needs and desires of the student in question.

So tutors, we’ve given you some homework of your own to complete as you prepare your next one on one tutoring session. Whether your academic specialty is calculus or algebra, whether you focus on study skills or exams, give free tutoring sessions or not, you are now ready to teach. And perhaps consider becoming one of the tutors Superprof is proud to employ!

Now go out and find some tutoring jobs! Happy teaching!


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