This afternoon I had the pleasure of working with a new student, and I am very happy with the way the session went. When I first arranged the session with the student, it was very important to me to get some background information on the class, the student, and the student's expectations. The way I prefer to work is to have a comprehensive understanding of the student.
In this case, the student is taking a Psychology class, which is my own major. I have every confidence in being able to improve this student's understanding of the basics of psychology, but that is not all I need to know. I also learned that Psychology is not this students' major, that it is more of an interest to the student. That's important to know, because it will factor in to the way we structure our sessions. Finally, we covered what it is the student expects from tutoring in general and from our upcoming session in particular. In this case, I was given a practice test that we were to cover this afternoon.
Once I feel I have a good foundation understanding of the student and the student's expectations, my next step is to prepare for any and all upcoming sessions. I plan a great deal for the impending session, and form a general idea for all future sessions. I like to have an actual plan in place rather than wing it, because I feel that this gives the student more quantity and better quality for their time and efforts. Ensuring that the student gets the most and best from their sessions with me is so important to me, and so I make the effort to fully prepare for all sessions. In this case, I went over each question of the practice test, noting what the right answers were, and (more importantly) WHY they were the right answers. With this information, I felt ready to improve the students' understanding of some of the basic principles of psychology.
All of this took place before the session itself, or even my first meeting with the student. While that may seem like a lot of work, that is what enables me to feel confident that I can give my absolute best to my student, and that they have every chance of getting what they want and need from our sessions in terms of their academic understanding and progress.
The first session with a new student went wonderfully well. Given the amount of preparation I did before the session, I felt absolutely confident in the information that I was giving the student, and was able to answer all of his questions. By the end of the session, the student was all smiles, and indicated that he felt much more confident in his understanding of the principles we'd covered. That is the best news to me. Before the student left, I made sure to give him copies of the prep work that I'd done so he could review it later on. Giving the handouts at the end of the session rather than at the beginning ensures that the quality of interaction between the tutor and the student is not negatively impacted by the student reading the handout. I find that handouts are incredibly useful, however, in ensuring that the student can essentially re-live the tutoring session after the session itself has ended.
At the end of the day, what is most important to me is that the student feel confident in their abilities and is better able to succeed academically than they were before our session. That is my goal in every single session with every single student, and I work hard to achieve that goal.