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When I begin teaching a student who is struggling in his or her English class, the very first thing I try to do is get the student to start communicating with his or her teacher. Often, students that are frustrated with their grades are frustrated with their teachers. However, treating teachers like allies instead of enemies can improve students’ understanding of course topics and assignments, and consequently their grades. You’ll often hear teachers tell students at the beginning of the year, “Please do not be afraid to raise your hand and ask a question.” They really do mean this. Think about it this way: Teachers are educating a class full of students with different learning styles. Their students probably have varying degrees of familiarity and comfort with different topics. Plus, teachers constantly introduce new and challenging material. So, teachers are not surprised when students need help, and they encourage their classes to ask questions to better their understanding... read more

(This is actually a modified version of an article I posted a while back - Parents wait! Why a study skills tutor is what your child REALLY needs. But I think tutors should consider this idea of study skills even more than parents should.) After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – insert subject here and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc...... read more

After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – “insert subject here” and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc. And let’s be honest – in most high school classrooms, students are essentially graded on their ability to keep track of, complete, and submit paperwork (i.e. homework), instead of their mastery of the material. (Not a good state of affairs, but it’s a topic... read more

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