Maintain an open line of communication: The tutoring process almost always yields the best results when the tutee feels comfortable expressing himself to his or her tutor. As such, you should try to encourage your tutee at all times and never make him or her feel “inadequate”, which may often happen inadvertently. If your tutee is struggling with a particular problem, ask him or her to work through it out loud and show you where they are experiencing difficulty. You should also ask frequent questions to address the root of the problem and help your tutee work through a problem on his or her own terms rather than yours.
Avoid talking too much: While many tutors maintain an expansive knowledge of a subject and feel compelled to lecture, tutees often benefit very little from passive listening. Many tutees also remain silent and allow their tutors to solve all of their problems for them. Instead, you should be the one keeping silent, encouraging your tutee to work through the problems and concepts. Because tutees often take longer to answer a question or explain a concept, you must be patient at all times and wait an appropriate length of time before offering your assistance.
Remain sensitive to the tutee’s level of knowledge: Even though you may possess expert knowledge of a subject, you should never assume that your tutee knows something just because you do. To avoid making this assumption, you should constantly check in on your tutee by asking him or her to explain concepts or demonstrate a sample problem.
Do not complete your tutee’s work: All too often, tutors fall into the trap of finishing homework problems for their tutee. Not only does this practice rob tutees of a valuable educational experience, but it also teaches your tutee that he or she can get away with not doing his or her own work. Although the vast majority of tutors make this mistake unintentionally, you should always keep tabs on your teaching methods and make sure your tutees understand all the necessary concepts.
Do not hesitate to ask for help: Even though you are supposed to be an authority figure on the subject, you will almost inevitably come across a problem you do not know how to do. When this happens, be honest with your tutee and dedicate yourself to finding an answer. Not only will your extra effort help your tutees learn the subject at hand, but it also teaches tutees about perseverance and dedication to schoolwork.
About the Author
For more than a decade, Onyeali Onyeberechi has served as the President of Onyeali Education Services, a nonprofit organization that provides valuable one-on-one tutoring for middle school students in Hyattsville, Maryland. Before founding Onyeali Education Services, Onyeberechi spent three years as a Teaching Clinician at Lindamood-Bell Learning Center in Washington, D.C.
Tips for Tutors (Part I)