Over the many years I have been tutoring, I have time and again found myself hating the teachers that assign the homework and tests my students have to work on. Of course, this doesn't happen every time, or even most times, but it happens often enough
that it prompted me to write this.
The reason I dislike these teachers so much is not related to how much work they create for me (I love my work!) or how much they make my students suffer (they don't), but rather to the fact that I consider some of the things they do to be the mark of
a bad teacher. A lazy teacher. A complacent teacher. A teacher more intent on getting a grade from their students that on actually teaching them. A teacher, in short, who should not call themselves 'teacher'.
Naturally, this led me to think about my own teaching style. If I have things to complain about in others, surely I know exactly what I'm doing? A little bit in horror, I realized I had never truly thought about...
My latest thoughts have again been inspired by one of those little surveys WyzAnt like to ask their tutors. This time the question was about what we, as tutors, think parents should ask of us before hiring us to help their children. A seemingly innocent,
simple question which, nevertheless, left me thinking.
To be honest, I hadn't really considered this before. I do a lot of the asking in the other direction: I ask parents what grade their child is in, what the class is, whether there is anything special about the class, the school, the teacher or the child
I should know about, how easy or complicated their schedule is, how their student is struggling in the class and why exactly they are looking for a tutor. I ask the students themselves a whole lot too, ranging from what they think about their teacher, to how
often, when and where they study, to what they do during the class. But I had never really stopped to think about how important it is to be asked good questions...
A recent survey question from the WyzAnt people got me thinking. The question asked how many hours of tutoring in took, on average, to help a student go up a letter grade. I found myself hesitating before answering, because I have done two different types
of tutoring, with two very different results. In the end, I decided to answer based on my favorite type of tutoring: 7 to 10 hours.
Let's think a little bit about what this means. With most students, I meet once or perhaps twice a week. So, in the best case scenario, 10 hours of tutoring means 5 weeks, or over a month! This might sound like a lot, but it really is the type of tutoring
that I prefer. It's the "tortoise" modality, instead of the "hare" one. Let me explain what I mean.
In the story of the race between these two animals, the hare simply starts running as fast as possible. Surely enough, he gets off to a great start, leaving the tortoise far, far behind. It is indeed possible to take an...