It is hard to believe Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was first published nearly 30 years ago. Although all 7 habits are excellent tools for both tutors and students, I believe the Second Habit -- "Begin With the End in Mind" -- can play an important role in creating the foundation for a productive and satisfying learning partnership.
For example, it is no use for a tutor to expect a student to go back and read the assigned book when the analysis paper is due in 48 hours. Similarly, a parent will be bitterly disappointed if they expect an "A" in Chemistry after only a few tutoring sessions. And a student shouldn't expect to learn a semester's worth of Physics without completing a single assignment.
Tutors can start this conversation by asking a few key questions: "What would you like to accomplish during our time together?" and "How would that accomplishment look to you?" Follow up questions about duration and frequency should quickly follow so tutors can discern whether or not the "end" is realistic.
There are terrific "action plans" online...just Google the term and see what comes up. Use a template or create your own to lay out the "what" "when" and "how" as clearly as possible. Don't forget the "what will it look like?" step. That will serve as the GPS to keep everyone on the right route. Be sure to constantly refer to your road map during tutoring sessions to avoid fruitless and time-consuming detours.
It may be Covey's Second Habit, but for teaching and learning, I believe it is the most important one and, once it has been implemented, there is plenty of room for Habit One to kick in: "Be Proactive." But we can cover that in a future blog post.