Tutoring is a rewarding profession, but only if you can find ways to get the best results all the time. Most tutors have had great success working with various students and helping them achieve their goals. Given the unique nature and challenges that some students face, you might find yourself short on teaching strategies that will help your students make the most out of your time with you.
It is a situation that many tutors find themselves in several times. If you’re looking for new ways to teach as a tutor and keep your string of impressive results going, these 12 teaching strategies for tutors are just what you need.
Questioning is one of the simplest yet effective teaching methods a tutor can use. It keeps the student actively involved in learning by requiring them to respond instead of sitting and listening to you give them information.
When planning your lessons, have key questions to help the student internalise and verbalise what you’ve been telling them. If the tutee doesn’t understand the question, rephrase it and always give them time to think and come up with their answers.
The inquiry method
This teaching method is also known as the Socratic method. It depends on the student’s level of understanding of the subject at hand. The inquiry method progresses from what the student already knows and gradually head towards new ideas. The tutor uses the questions to guide the tutee but with direct questioning.
The inquiry method works wonders in helping the student recount a passed lesson and assesses how well they have understood the material.
Drawings and diagrams
Every successful tutor starts by assessing the student and knowing how they learn best. For students who are visual learners, using drawings and diagrams is the easiest way of getting the student to learn and understand different types of content, especially in demanding fields like science.
For visual learners, it is easier to understand a drawing of carbon dioxide than to explain the same.
For tactile learners, you can try engaging them in building models or diagrams themselves. This act of building the model will reinforce the learning.
This method is similar to the questioning method but with subtle differences that could make significant differences in the learning curve of the student.
Drills are sets of questions that have controlled responses and only one right answer. This type of strategy is effective for subjects that require a lot of memorisation. It gives the tutee reference points and allows them to test their memory and retention skills.
A lot of tutors use this teaching strategy, but not as often as they should. It is critical for private tutors to recognise the success of their students just as much as they notice their mistakes. While you’re inclined to always correct, you also want to commend the student and reinforce when they do the right thing. However, you should be cautious not to over-exaggerate the student’s gain.
The trick to using positive reinforcement is to be more specific about the gain. Some great examples of positive reinforcement include;
- “I like the way you did…”
- “You’re doing much better with ….”
- “Great job on….”
Alternation is all about alternating roles. Sometimes, let your tutee tutor you. This is particularly effective in classes that feature essays. It allows the student to explain things to you thoroughly and coherently.
It also gives you a chance to gauge the student’s understanding of the subject matter and identify areas where you need to revisit and ensure they understand fully.
This teaching method for tutors means giving the students an opportunity to apply what they have learned. Most tutors prefer to use this method on subjects like maths, where they give the student a problem to solve on their own using a concept they have just learned. It’s a quick and easy way to assess the student’s progress and determine if they understand the concept or you need to explain it more.
Assessment through games
Adding a little fun can go a long way in helping students understand challenging topics. Sometimes, the student can get frustrated when they can’t understand a subject, which often makes teaching much harder. Using games adds fun and allows you to test the student’s comprehension of the problem at the same time.
There is a wealth of online games that you can use as a teaching aid, particularly for maths and science. Children love a challenge, and that is what games provide them with.
Students tend to have a short memory span and will often tune out in the middle of the lesson. Using frequent proses ensures the student is engaged in the lessons and gives you a chance to check if the tutee got what you’ve been explaining.
A good example of the pause strategy in action is asking the student to summarise what you have just been explaining. If you’re tutoring a group, you can ask the students to explain what they have learned to each other.
The think-pair-share technique
The think-pair-share technique works great if you’re tutoring a small group. First, you provide the group with information. You can ask them to read a short text or listen to a video or lecture. They can even listen to you as you explain a specific concept.
Then you will ask the students one question and tell them to think about it, write the answer down, and then share the response with another student. Finally, you will ask each pair to provide a single answer which they have come up with after discussion.
This is a great way to stimulate engagement and new ideas among the students. However, this method only works when tutoring small groups.
Technology and media
Traditional teaching methods still have a place in tutoring, but technology also has its place. Making your tutoring sessions more interesting by adding videos and other media types like songs can make the session more engaging, increase memory retention, and help students grasp complex concepts in easier and more interactive ways.
Using media, you can also bring in a more hands-on approach to tutoring, which many students might appreciate and warm up to.
Sometimes listening to the thoughts and feelings of your students is all you need to find new ways of teaching and to unlock their creativity.
Given the opportunity, you will be shocked at how much valuable feedback students can give, even the ones at a tender age. As you try out the different teaching techniques, try to find out from them which ones they prefer the most and their preferred learning style.
Find out if you’re rushing them or spending enough time on a subject. It might feel like you’re wasting time, but the only way you can be a better tutor is by understanding your tutees. You can only understand them if you listen to their opinion and consider it seriously.
Tutoring is not as easy as it sounds. Although having the skills and experience is a great starting point, you should be able to do more than just that. Keeping yourself updated with the latest and most effective teaching strategies will ensure you can always add value to your students and stimulate learning in different ways.