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The Challenge of Tutoring Students in Writing

Greetings, reader!   I am new to Wyzant but have been a part time tutor in a variety of subjects for 6 years. One of the most common subjects I help students in is English/Writing, and it is by far the most difficult. The challenge is not knowing how to write a great essay given the prompt, but how to get the student to write the essay using his/her own voice, style and structure. I have gotten used to walking the razor's edge over the years, but the temptation to write parts of the essay for new writing tutors can be tremendous. Particularly when spending minutes on word choice and sentence order, the prospect of doing some ghost-writing is undoubtedly alluring.   So how does one persevere through those silent, deep-thinking sessions? What I find motivating is the knowledge that my role as a tutor is not to tell the student what to do, but to give him/her an alternative set of tools that he/she does not get in a classroom that will help them express... read more

5 Tips to Make Your Tutoring Dollars Go Farther

Before we get to the 5 Tips to Help Make Your Tutoring Dollars Go Farther, let me set them up for a minute. Trust me, they'll make more sense if I do.   I'm a "bad news first" kind of guy. I'd rather receive the bad news first so that I can better appreciate the good news that follows. And I like to give the bad news first to get it out of the way and move on to the more helpful good news. The bad news: You have probably already paid for a class and books, and now you are looking at spending money on tutoring too. Well, here's the good news: Tutoring really is an investment in yourself! And your WyzAnt tutor wants to help you succeed as much as you do.   Tutoring is a partnership. It's two people--you and your tutor--looking at a situation and working together to overcome it. "I need to pass my Calc final." "I have a paper due." "I'm taking the SAT next month and I need help."   Whatever... read more

Tutors wait! Why study skills should make up part (maybe most) of every session

(This is actually a modified version of an article I posted a while back - Parents wait! Why a study skills tutor is what your child REALLY needs. But I think tutors should consider this idea of study skills even more than parents should.) After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – insert subject here and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc... read more

Great Resources I Use All the Time

1. Hyperphysics This website is basically a concept map of every physics topic, and I mean every. It's not a comprehensive guide to all of them, but it provides a basic overview of pretty much everything you could ever want to know about physics. It's not a "Physics for Dummies" site, so if you're struggling, you'll still need a competent tutor. That being said, if you want to look up and equation or definition, or just learn a little more about something your teacher only mentioned, it is the best resource I know.   2. Paul's Online Math Notes This website offers extremely detailed lessons on Algebra, Calculus I, II, and III, and Differential Equations. To be honest, I learned most of what I know about Calculus through Paul, not my professors. I'll even admit that many students can use this in place of a tutor. Paul's teaching style isn't for everyone, though, so many people will still need some extra help.   3. SparkNotes... read more

Confidence as Strategy

Many of the students I tutor have the skills it takes to succeed, but their confidence or motivation is low. I find that the best way to see results, for the benefit of myself, the students, and the parents, is to provide that student with the tools to understand what it feels like to succeed, and therefore to be confident. Although parents usually have the best intentions, the children may just need to hear the same advice from a peer, or a tutor. Having a new face recommending the same concepts will reinforce the idea, and the student will not resist the idea. Through hiring a tutor, the stress of overseeing a child's behavior, homework completion, peer relations, and school succeed should be alleviated. Although all skill improvement takes time, there will be guaranteed results if the tutor and student see eye-to-eye, and if the student really is motivated -- no matter how far below the surface -- then grades will improve quite quickly!

The Tutor/ School Connection

Tuesday, December 10, 2013   The Tutor/ School Connection Teachers in training learn the importance of cultivating meaningful connections with their students and their parents in teaching methods classes. Teachers know that maintaining regular contact with parents is essential to nurturing a positive home/ school relationship. The benefits of such a relationship are too numerous to mention. Tutors, along with students and their families, can benefit from a similar relationship. This article describes several benefits of a positive tutor/ school relationship and lists steps for initiating contact. Why a Tutor/ School Relationship? As a Behavioral Management Counselor at a local juvenile facility for adjudicated youth, my responsibilities included maintaining regular contact with all teachers of the residents on my client list. This included phone contact and attending parent/ teacher conferences. My unit housed young men ages 13 – 17... read more

Public Speaking- From Fear to Fierce

Public Speaking- From Fear to Fierce I went to a high school that put great emphasis on classical skills: Logic, Latin, and Rhetoric. The term “rhetoric” has a bad reputation in today’s society that is completely undeserved. The word “rhetoric” simply referred to the art of communication, often in public speaking or in discussion format. That discussion aside, I loved the methods that we were taught to overcome that fear of public speaking, and I think that others could benefit as well. I remember the first time that each person in our ninth grade class had to present a paper to our history class. We were all white-knuckled clutching our entirely pre-written papers that must have only been two or three hand written pages in length. Shaking knees and even shakier voices were quite prevalent. The next year, when we started rhetoric classes, I watched those same students, including myself, giving speeches fifteen minutes or longer with very little noticeable... read more

Quick Tips for New or Aspiring Tutors

Becoming a tutor is a very rewarding experience. If you are interested in beginning a new journey as a person aspiring to touch the lives of students you should practice the following effective techniques.    1-Although you may be extremely knowledgeable and/or passionate about one or two subjects try to become well versed with a few additional subjects; chances are when you are offered a tutoring job for one subject your student will ask for help with other subjects they may struggle with in the near future.    2-When working with a student be careful not to use negative comments. For example, if a student gets a word problem wrong do not directly correct them by saying "you are wrong." Try putting a spin on words of encouragement such as "You are on the right track. Let me show you how to figure out the answer." Negative comments will only further discourage a student who is probably already internally suffering from failure... read more

Some tutoring advice for parents, students, and tutors

How pretentious: I'm claiming to offer advice to all parties in the tutoring process! But if you bear with me, I hope to actually offer some helpful advice. Some advice for parents: It’s easy for a parent to feel guilty. “I have to provide the best educational experience possible for my child. If I don’t, I’m a bad parent and a bad person.” Combine that with a lack of clarity about what “best” is, and it’s not wonder that there’s a lot of insecurity about this. Unscrupulous tutors take advantage of that. Do yourself a favor: take a breath, and breathe. You are not solely responsible for everything regarding your child. You, of course, have many responsibilities. But your first and most important obligation is to raise your child in a loving, safe environment. Nowhere is it written in the contract you signed when you became a parent that you will be held accountable for how well your child does in precalculus. Remind yourself, explicitly, in writing... read more

The nightmare of hiring a tutor

In principle, hiring a tutor is an enterprise that is anticipatory and deliberate. It involves anticipating what potential problems might crop up, using a student’s history and self-evaluation. Tutoring can also be in response to a desire to advance more quickly; it’s not always used to “fix” a “problem”. A parent might consult with friends, or with the student’s teacher, to obtain personal referrals. After interviewing a number of possible tutors, the parent and child, together, choose the tutor that embodies the combination of empathy, subject knowledge, teaching ability, and cost effectiveness. If this sounds like you, congratulations. No need to read onward, to find out how the rest of us in the real world live. If this doesn’t sound like you, don’t worry; you’re not alone, and I promise this won’t be a “you should feel guilty about this” post. Here’s how tutoring often works in practice. A student starts struggling in a subject, but that... read more

Effective Interpersonal Skills

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to present the tutor training module "Effective Interpersonal Skills" to my fellow HCC tutors. The module is part of the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) training curriculum for tutors. Here, I'll share what we discussed at this training.   Training Module Objectives: define interpersonal skills identify essential behaviors for effective communication practice using effective interpersonal skills discuss how to modify behaviors if communication is ineffective   Formal Definition: interpersonal skills n. - the abilities which enable effective communication and social interaction between people (Oxford English Dictionary)   As we begin to talk about effective interpersonal skills, think about those behaviors that have helped you successfully convey your message to others before. What behaviors seemed to work well when communicating with friends, parents,... read more

Get the Most Out of Your Tutoring Experience

In remembering some suggestions from my teachers and professors, I thought I might submit the following, as it is my desire that my students get the most out of their tutoring experience. I believe that teachers and tutors provide a service that is beyond price, and I believe that it is a worthwhile investment on the part of the student, I think there is also a way to maximize what is obtained. Here are my suggestions for getting the most from your tutoring experience: 1. If you find yourself completely overwhelmed by work and other commitments, think of reducing some of your load before seeking a tutor. Make sure you have time to spend with family, doing work things, working out, enjoying entertainment, and all, so that studies don’t take over your life. Plus, if stress is only going to serve to cloud your focus on your studies, you’ll just be wasting your money to hire a tutor. 2. If you find the subject to be especially difficult, often, you can... read more

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