How to be Good Tutor?

    Talking at people for a long time is not an effective way in helping them to learn. A variety of tasks from tutors and response from students help preventing students and tutors from losing interest.

    Different kinds of questioning have very different effects on learners. Students must be given sufficient time to understand the questions or tasks before the tutors continue the class.

    Teaching effectively involve three significant steps: Questioning, pausing (for thinking time) and continuing( the tuition class )

    a. Questioning your students
    Do not just ask for a fact or one-word answer. Ask questions that are open-ended and encourage the students to talk. However, you must not make your questions too complicated.

    It is advisable to ask questions that will make the students to think and reveal their understanding (or misunderstanding).

    Ask questions that make the students apply, analyze, predict, classify, synthesize, justify or evaluate what they are learning. Some of these questions will have more than one ‘right’ answer.

    b. Thinking time.
    Do not expect the students to respond to a question immediately. They will need some thinking time. Tutors can give them that, while schoolteachers often cannot.

    c. Prompt
    Do not just tell the students the answer. Give them a small clue about how to work out the right answer. This might be a drawing or a gesture (for example), as well as more spoken words. Give just enough support to enable the students to be successful with some effort.

    Do not give students long, complicated explanations. Keep everything short, simple and straight to the point.
    It is often helpful to briefly review what you learned in your previous tutoring session.
    It is advisable for the tutors to mix up the easy and hard tasks; short and long tasks; highly structured and open-ended; talking, reading and writing tasks.

    It would be less boring to both tutors and students for having a mixture of tasks rather than the same task from the beginning till the end.

    Errors are a positive learning opportunity if recognized as errors. But if not recognized, errors compound faulty learning.

    Tutors have more time than schoolteachers to observe carefully for errors. But they might not be so good at actually recognizing them.

    Tutors also have more time than teachers to intervene in a way that encourages self-correction. Self-correction is widely recognized as an important step towards developing metacognition (understanding how you learn) and self-managed learning.

    If errors are not seen and corrected, much faulty learning will take place. Some errors might be just carelessness. But many errors have shown the students have not enough understanding on the topics they learnt.

    a. Check for errors
    When you see an error, try to intervene positively. Avoid just saying ‘no!’. First, suggest to your tutee that you think they might have made an error. Encourage them to find where. If they cannot find where, give them a clue to help them locate the error.

    b. Promote self-correction
    When they have found it, talk about the nature of the error. In what way is it wrong? Why? How can it be put right? Through this discussion, you give the tutee the chance to put the error right themselves (self correct). This is much better for their learning and for their confidence.

    c. Correction procedure
    Of course, if they try to self-correct but still do not get it right, you will need to intervene more. If all else fails, you might need to: demonstrate or model the correct response; lead or prompt the tutee to imitate this; check that the tutee can produce the correct response without help.

    Discussion leads students to actively process information and develops deeper understanding, rather than just learning facts by rote. Praise is a powerful form of feedback, especially if it comes from someone with whom the students have a good relationship.

    a. Discuss
    The questioning and the promotion of self-correction mentioned above should lead into elaborated discussions. This will help to establish deeper and wider understanding in the tutee.

    b. Praise
    Most tutors do not praise their students as much as they think they do. Most tutors also criticize their students more than they think they do.

    Try to observe your own tutoring behavior carefully. Tutoring is a private situation that should be within a context of trust. Embarrassment about giving and receiving praise publicly should not be a problem. So give more praise!

    c. When to praise?
    You may praise for your students for the following:
    o Success with particularly hard problems or tasks.
    o Self-correction.
    o Increasing time-span without error.
    o Effort that the students have put on their examinations, studies and etc.
    o Praise the students’ increasing dependency.
    o At the end of the session, give praise for the whole session.
    o Write some praise on any record of the session.

    d. Effective praise
    Praise specifying the reason for it—say exactly what the students have done well.

    Vary the praise—use as many different praise words as you can think of. Praise as if you mean it—sound and look pleased such as smile.

    Do not praise the students if you do not mean it. It will be showed through your eye, face expression and sound.

    A summarizing discussion should come at the end of the tutoring session. Reviewing the most important things that have been learned will help the students to remember.

    This review discussion also leads naturally into planning what you might do in the next session.

    During the summary, review the main points and key points with the students. You might need to remind them of one or two important things, which they have already seemed to have forgotten.

    Please do not try to cram in too many ‘main’ points. The students might become confused and lose their interest if you cram in too many main points during the summary or review session.

    For the beginning of the next tuition class, you may start reviewing the topic previously learnt. It enables the students to recall back what they have learnt for the previous tuition class.


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