What makes a good tutor?

I am fairly new to the field.

I have been doing this for about three years now. Tutoring online and in person has allowed me to be exposed to all sorts of situations and subjects. Some I know like the back on my hand, and some not so much. I have always wondered, am I really a good tutor because there are some subjects I am not as confident about as others? I look at my tutor friends and it seems like they are brains. So I wonder what makes a good tutor?

I didn't really get the answer to my question until I had my normal tutoring session last Friday. I love helping this student out, but I won't lie. It's a challenge. I constantly have to re-evaluate what I am doing, and what is best for her educational well-being. Some times, I have to put somethings on hold, go home and mull it over in my brain until I find a solution. But this makes me happy. I love playing Sherlock Holmes and feel a big sense of EUREKA! when I find the answer or a solution.

I believe this is what makes a good tutor. It's not the fact that a tutor should know everything. It is impossible even if that tutor only teaches one subject. There have been math problems that I haven't seen for years. A good teacher needs to know their stuff but at the same time, be willing to take the time to find the solutions and answers to what they DON'T know. We get paid to do our jobs because we are expected to be the bridge between the teacher and learning. This means being " Sherlock Holmes" to find a solution that works for the child. A good investigative nature is a great tutor make that will please parents more than being a genius.


An interesting question Angela!  I think what makes a good tutor (or teacher) differs from subject to subject. A teacher can be good at teaching one subject and very bad at teaching another one.   But in general I think that, in any subject, a tutor needs to teach more than just the subject.  
You should not just teach facts;  you have to teach learning.   Students need to learn how to learn a subject themselves so that they eventually don't need the tutor to help them.  
And this additional part - how to learn - is in the long run more important than the subject matter.  So when I tutor a student and I'm unsure about something, I tell the student that, and then I let the student watch me find the information I need to teach; this is how a student learns how to learn, but observing someone engaging in learning.  
My tutoring philosophy: My job is not to be the expert. My job is to make the student the expert.
Standard tutoring tools: Vygotsky's scaffolding method and ZPD model, and Howard Bloom's multiple intelligences taxonomy.
This discussion reminds me of the time that I tutored a student in Spanish even though I don't speak the language! It was at the high school where I work, and she was panicking. A test was looming. I told her that I didn't speak Spanish, but she said I was her only hope. I thought for a minute, and told her that I would go through her index cards and do my best to state the words in Spanish, and she could give me the English version. I said that it was her job to correct my mangling of the language in the process. She got a B+ on her test.


Angela W.

Experienced Tutoring Tailored to Your Child's Learning Style

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