Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth From Your Tutor?

Families hire tutors for a variety of reasons. In general, though, tutors help students and professionals learn some skill or information. So, how do you know whether you are getting your money’s worth from tutoring? Here are five areas you can use to grade your tutor.

1. Communication. Tutors should communicate a lot! Tutors should conduct a background interview before starting lessons. They should gather information about student strengths and weaknesses, academic background, learning styles, and schedule information at a minimum. You can feel confident that they know what they’re doing if they do this. They understand that you need to know their students before teaching them anything. They may also use the information to write a learning plan listing several long – term goals for the student.

Tutors should also talk with parents or adult students after each lesson. They should meet with parents at the end of the session to summarize student progress and preview the next lesson. This is evidence that they have a long – term plan and they’re sticking to it. For adult students, tutors might preview the lesson before the session and then sum up how you did and preview the next lesson before they leave. Some tutors prefer to do both a learning summary and a preview at the end. Either way, you should always know what they’re teaching and why.

2. Subject knowledge. Most tutors are current or former teachers of some kind, or current or retired professionals with experience in the subject. Tutors may be highly knowledgeable in the subject areas they teach, but have no college or vocational school education. For example, a tutor may be a veteran who was an electrician for 20 years before retiring from service. They don’t have degrees or certificates, but they are perfectly capable of helping you study for a professional certification test.

Look for a list of the subjects tutors teach and qualification descriptions. Read these to see if their qualifications meet your needs. If you doubt their qualification, questions them about the subject and their training. If they don’t know the subject well, they’ll have a hard time answering subject specific questions. They might give long -winded answers but never really answer your question. If this happens, talk to a few other tutors to see if someone else has the subject knowledge that fits your needs.

3. Customer service. This is self – explanatory. Once both parties agree on the skills and knowledge to be taught, the tutor should follow that plan. If your child needs help with general study skills and Algebra I, they should not tutor Biology. Ask your tutor about their qualifications and comfort level with Biology if things change. If the tutor is qualified and willing to add Biology, you have a new plan.

For help with sports, music, or hobbies (like chess), discuss equipment and who will provide it. Will the tutor bring a chess set and chess clock or do you have your own? Do you have your own trumpet for lessons or do you need help finding a music store that rents them? Iron out these details before starting lessons. Expect the tutor to ask questions about this, too. If you want help learning how to throw a split fingered fastball in the winter in Indiana, where will you practice? Think about this before talking to tutors.

4. Progress reports. How do tutors know their long - term plan is working? Tutors should assess student’s knowledge during each lesson. They might ask students to summarize what they’ve learned that day or quiz them with review questions. Tutors should go back and re-teach the material a different way if students can’t answer. Then, they can re-assess with different questions to see if re-teaching helped. Tutors should report you (or your child’s) progress at the end of the lesson.

Tutors can’t know whether or not students understand the material unless they regularly assess learning. Tutors should be able to answer the question, “Did Sarah learn her Algebra lesson today?” right away with concrete evidence to support it. Their answer should be something like, “Yes! As a matter of fact, she got all four summary problems I wrote for her correct without help from me.” This lets you know that they had a lesson plan and came prepared with a few review questions.

5. Professional boundaries. There’s nothing wrong with tutors using your bathroom or taking a bottle of water you offer. However, it is completely different if they are raiding your refrigerator! Tutors should know and respect these boundaries. Some tutors travel to several homes for back-to-back lessons and don’t have time to stop to use the restroom. Please, let them! Offer a bottle of water if you have it. But, they shouldn’t ask to stay for dinner.

Tutors should also follow parent’s guidelines for communicating with teens. Tell the tutor whether your teenager is allowed to contact you by E-mail or text message. This is especially true if your tutor will meet your child after a school function (like band practice). Can your child text their tutor if practice runs late? Should the tutor call or text you if this happens? Decide what is appropriate given your comfort level and unique situation. If all communication should go through parents, tell the tutor the first time you talk to them. Then, expect the tutor to respect your boundaries.

Use these five things to grade your tutor. This will help you know whether you are getting your money’s worth from tutoring. If they aren’t doing these things, talk to them. Maybe they have a long – term plan, but haven’t reviewed it with you. Don’t jump to conclusions. If you talk to them and don’t see an improvement, you may not be getting your money’s worth from tutoring. Consider hiring someone else.

I hope you found this article helpful! Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like the article on Facebook, or Tweet it via Twitter. If you have questions unique to your situation, feel free to use the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my WyzAnt tutor home page to contact me. (Use this link to find my tutor home page: I’m happy to help!

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