Students versus Clients...

As members of WyzAnt, we are fully aware of the fact that we are dealing with two different entities when it comes to tutoring. We usually communicate with the clients (parents/guardians) but we tutor the students. Generally speaking, there is almost complete coincidence between these two entities in terms of what direction the tutoring should take. If a particular student is struggling in a class (say, Geometry), and the "client" can tell this from progress reports, report cards, or simple communication with the teacher, then it's pretty obvious that Geometry is the course in question (though what specific sub-topic of Geometry is creating the trouble is not necessarily known). This concept can take something of a twist when preparing a student for a test like the SAT, ACT, ASVAB, GRE, and so on. In the eyes of the "client", from what I have noticed, the student usually needs help on the entire test. The student, on the other hand, having a more in-depth understanding of what's going on, will be more specific in his/her inabilities. It's not to say that one is wrong and that the other is right...this speaks more to a lack of communication between the student and the client. And this lack of communication can create problems for the tutor. If the client tells a tutor that a student needs help on the ACT...that's not very specific. Fortunately, WyzAnt has taken that into consideration by providing subsections of the ACT, and other standardized testing, by way of ACT Math, Reading, and so on. What is still lacking (and I doubt WyzAnt really wants to go the route of complete specialization) is a detailed understanding of where the difficulty lies. It's not enough to say that a student doesn't understand's better if a student can relay to the tutor (vis-a-vis, the "client") that it's more about understanding similar polygons, or Pythagorean theorem. Of course, in communicating with the "client", it is the responsibility of the tutor to ascertain exactly what elements need to be improved...but this is not always done. At the end of the day, that is where the tutor has to accept that responsibility completely. As tutors, we need to know exactly what it is that a student needs help on. This way, we can adequately prepare for a session that focuses completely on the topic at hand. Creating lesson plans is a good way to do this, but, for me, that's a little too formal. I'm a little more flexible than that. I try to maintain some idea of what is coming up with a particular student so I can sharpen my skills in that area. We only have a short amount of time to dispense our valuable knowledge to the student. It would benefit everyone...the student, the "client", and the tutor...if that amount of time was entirely devoted to tutoring...leaving the preparation for beforehand.


Dominic J.

Experienced Statistics/Mathematics Tutor

400+ hours
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