Maths tutoring allows you to work with young students at different levels. It can be satisfying helping the students turn around their grades and improve their confidence. But, like every other career, it is not without its challenges. It requires deep knowledge and vast experience, which can vary depending on the level of the students. But sometimes, even that is not enough.
You need to have the right qualities of a maths tutor, including patience, empathy and communication. If you’re thinking of becoming a maths tutor, or you are already one, and you’re looking to perfect your craft, here is how to tutor maths.
Have Good Resources
Even the most knowledgeable maths tutor needs to have good resources to guide them through the different courses. The resources include exam papers, diagrams and figures. These resources are the building foundation of your tutoring session. The better they are, the better quality your tutoring is going to be.
Luckily for online maths tutors, most of these resources are readily available. You can have them neatly organised in your library for quick and easy access when you need them.
When solving a specific problem, always use your resource. Don’t trust that a student has written the question properly.
Allow Students to Make Mistakes
Students learn best when they make mistakes and learn from them. Once you have your resources, let the student write the solutions and notes in their own way. This proves vital because it increases retention time and allows the student to understand and remember in their own way.
Typically, tutors will want to make it as easy as possible on the student and over-extend their assistance making it hard for the student to learn anything because they are literally floating and sailing through the maths tutoring sessions.
While students need to make mistakes, they also need to learn from them. Always reinforce the correct procedures. Identify the incorrect concepts and suggest the student tries something different. Never settle for the “I don’t have an idea.” Work on anything else the student knows that they can build on.
Allow students to work through the problem
The only way you can understand how you can help is by identifying where the mistake is. Letting students work through the problem and explaining what they are doing is one of the best ways to identify challenges and how to get overtime.
Helping the student through the problem can make the session very passive for the student. It can prevent them from thinking hard about the problem and figuring some of the issues by themselves. This approach will also prevent you from recognising any bottlenecks in the way the student thinks.
Because maths is solved step-by-step, understanding the thought process of the student is just as critical as solving the problem.
You can check if the student has understood the concept by asking the student to re-explain the procedure.
Refrain from asking “Yes” or “No” questions. Instead, lean towards statement questions like “Why did we just do that?” or “what comes next?” this always keeps the student engaged and their thoughts flowing. It also assures you that the student understands the concept and isn’t just cramming.
Get the student to work on the next problem on their own without interfering. It might be tempting to help an insecure student work on the problem, but you should not get drawn into it. Disengaging helps the student develop the ability to apply what they’ve just learnt without your supervision or reference.
Take advantage of technology
A pen and paper can get the job done. But it will be easier for both you and the student to use a drawing tablet or touchscreen device with a stylus pen. It allows the student to see what you’re doing in real-time as you explain it instead of writing it down on a paper then explaining it. There are tonnes of other maths tutoring tools you can use that can enhance your tutoring skills and make the lessons more immersive and thought-provoking for the student.
There is no Holy Grail to maths tutoring. As long as you have the subject knowledge and experience, you can constantly improve your craft to deliver quality tutoring sessions that benefit and impact the students you work with.