Over the years, I have had very good experiences as a tutor and, for the most part, my students (the long term students) and I have very good relationships (one of the problems with working through an organization like WyzAnt after double digit years experience as a tutor with dozens of students is that the previous students you worked with can't tell your WyzAnt students how well you worked together, particularly the students who you no longer know how to contact).
But I have had some students who really don't know how to get the most out of working with a tutor. I have tutored many different subjects like Math (this is my best and, also, the subject I'm most experienced in), Jewish Studies/Hebrew language, History, Science, and Language Arts. I have worked with students on term papers and studied for finals.
For the most part, I try to instill in my students good study and learning habits. For example, despite the modern day slant toward using calculators, I try to instill in my math students a good habit of not running to the calculator. I know whereof I speak on this; I have a well-developed sense of how numbers work together because I rarely use calculators. It's sort of similar to how people used to remember the phone numbers they often called, but nowadays, with cell phone address books and speed dial on the LAN lines, people rarely remember phone numbers. When I was in graduate school, I took a statistics class and I would take a big pile of scrap paper with me and I would put the calculator over to the side and only use it to check my math after I figured it out on paper (most of the time I was right). This is the sort of habit I would like my students to have.
But I digress. I would like to tell the students of the present and future the following:
1. Know what it is you want from your tutor. If you go into the process without any idea of what help you want, the tutor won't know how to proceed.
2. Be prepared. Go into your sessions with material you want to study or practice. If you want the tutor to help you study for a test, have the material that will be on the test (for example, textbook pages, study sheets from the teacher, etc.).
3. Take notes/ write things down. If you write down hints or directions your tutor gives you, you can check back.
4. Listen to your tutor. If your mind is a million miles away, you won't get a lot out of the session.
5. Do whatever assignments your tutor assigns. The tutor is giving you these assignments for a reason – (S)He may want to know what you know, where your strengths and weaknesses are, or just whether you are understanding what you are learning with him/her.
6. Be motivated. Remember, learning is not just for today. Often, what you learn tomorrow is dependent on what you are learning today (for example, you can't understand Algebra if you don't know how to add and subtract).
For those of us tutors who enjoy tutoring and want the student to gain from the process, there is nothing more frustrating than a student who we can't reach. Make yourself reachable and there is nothing you and your tutor can't achieve together.