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A few good questions and thoughtful answers can make tutoring an actual learning process. This is substantially different from cramming sessions, emergency sessions to pass a class and homework 'completion'. I ask parents and students (where it is age/capacity appropriate) to explain their goals and expected outcomes. This question serves three significant purposes for the student and myself. (1) Is the student interested in learning or in getting by? (2) Does the student have commitment/perseverance or are they looking for an easy out? (3) Setting realistic expectations for outcomes. If the student is not interested in learning and will not be committed, I am not the correct tutor for the job. There are tutors who specialize in cram sessions. Setting expectations appropriately prevents surprises from happening to ardent wishes. An example of expectation setting is explaining to parents the following examples and being clear on this information: (http://talk... read more

Online tutoring has one special BONUS which few people think about when seeking out tutoring. The time element is changed and made astoundingly different. Imagine being able to have three 20 minutes sessions over the course of one afternoon instead of a one hour slotting. What if your tutor could go over the subject for 30 minutes, have you start working and come back to you in an hour to check in and review questions. Working with your tutor online allows you to schedule increments of time. The time allocation difference is valuable for all types of students. -Some students need a longer period of time to concentrate/practice. -Some students would like an explanation and then try some independent work with a check in. -Some students can squeeze in 1/2 hour before a piano lesson and then 1/2 hour after dinner. -When students are young, 1 hour can be far too long. I discuss these options with parents when explaining the value of on-line tutoring. Manipulating... read more

The following article takes well known anecdotal evidence and makes it much more real - as if it were a punch to the stomach or whack to the head. Do not let it intimidate you in the least. The issue is not about the money…..and this is the key point! It is not the actual tangible money - it is the BEHAVIOR of how people think and what they do which makes the largest difference. The issue is about EXPOSURE. Money can allow for wealthy families to have their children gain MORE EXPOSURE OVER LONGER PERIODS OF TIME to the material within the SAT and ACT. In reality, anyone can gain more exposure over longer periods of time. The idea of last minute test prep and cramming for these exams is where most families have it all wrong - even those with money. It is about the number of times... read more

The past few years have allowed me the privilege of working with many talented students who are on a great trajectory for college through AP courses in high school. Simultaneously, I have tutored students who ended up in AP courses and were not adequately prepped and prepared for what would be expected of them during the school year. AP courses are to be enjoyed and valued as any college course. In the first instance above, my tutoring was helping students develop quality arguments surrounding history issues, exploring literary styles and analyzing the author's work and developing concise answers to biology explorations. In the second case, I actually had to help students learn to study (the 'extra' work which is not assigned homework) and develop writing which demonstrated collegiate level thinking. In order for more students  to excel in AP coursework as well as enjoying the class  during the academic year, they need to be prepared for the work load. This preparation... read more

As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to talk to... read more

The most obvious answer is cost. If a tutor charges the same rate for one or four students, it becomes cheaper per hour as you increase students and share the costs with other families. It is often believed a tutor is best when working 1:1 with a student. In some instances it is well worth the time and money to have 1:1 tutoring and sometimes it is appropriate for students to study and do school work in small groups. What is not obvious is the dynamics of small group tutoring. In a variety of circumstances it is invaluable for students to learn how to study “what needs to be studied”. The acts of independence and self regulating behavior have far reaching benefits. Groups need to learn to share and take turns. This seems simple and yet there is the underlying tendency to allow the ‘smart one’ in the group to carry the burden of work. Assuming each student is in the class and has a different point of view/observation about what is happening in class, they should share their... read more

Although I do not own a TV (and have not for pretty much all of my adult life), I occasionally allow myself to partake in mind numbing and will watch past episodes of a show via Netflix. It would not have occurred to me I could learn something helpful about studying and yet I did! Although I did not realize it at the time, Bones (cerebral/quirky weekly drama about a forensic anthropologist played by Emily Deshanel) and later Grey's Anatomy (medical drama with some elements of non-fiction starring Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh), subtly helped me understand how to become a better connoisseur of studying anatomy and physiology. It was not until recently, while working with a pre-nursing school student, I put the pieces together. Anyone who works with the body (living or dead) must create their own 'GPS' system for navigating the body as no two are exactly alike. Each bone, muscle, system and tissue (sometimes even cells) are just slightly different. There is a range of normal... read more

Each summer I have a few students who work on both math and reading to keep the 'flow' and/or prep for the upcoming year. These students and their parents are completely committed to the idea of always learning as opposed to the idea of only learning in the classroom or merely learning during the school year... in essence, the parents are setting the foundation for lifelong learning. I would never ask a student to do work which I would not be willing to do myself or work through with them in tutoring. To this end, I have the opportunity to do reading AND catch up on my practice. This summer I am reading 'The Joy of X-A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity' by Steven Strogatz at Cornell University. I LOVE this book! It is almost as good as being in a lecture or small gathering and has helped me explore how I think about math and how to share these ideas with my students. One of my students recommended 'Hoot' by Carl Hiassen and it is on my list for the library.... read more

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with a parent/business owner who hires/places tutors for high end families in my area. It was a wonderful opportunity as once again I heard the mantra, "Parents just want the grades to go up." I asked what this meant, how I could measure it (quantitatively and anecdotally) and if this was indeed proof of my skills as a tutor or a momentary 'save' on a reversal of fortune. This parent does not use Wyzant. I was hard pressed to accept from this parent the reason I wasn't being contacted by high end parents for tutoring was my lack of guaranteeing grades would go up, a promise I can not make in good faith as there are too many factors involved. Honesty and integrity should be important, not my sales ability. In my years as a teacher and tutor, I have found once I have parents on board, the rest is EASY. Parents are the elephant in the room and I can run myself ragged (knowing full well very little if anything changes without parental... read more

Recently I had a parent laugh at the 'stuff' I brought for tutoring. It was a second meeting with student and I did not know what would work so I brought a great deal of stuff for fractions, hoping one or more of my non-book selections would work. It did! The parent asked about a 'list' of stuff good for children/students/etc. Please note, I am pretty much low tech kind of person having done Peace Corps in Africa......I really believe I can do anything with nothing so as you read the list, don't be surprised by what is missing-realize the potential of what is listed. Here goes: Library Card - FREE and generally the best bang for your tax payer dollar Super-Fun Marble Run - Lakeshore Learning or Mouse Trap at Toys R' Us Waterway Pipe Builders - Lakeshore Learning Cuisinaire Rods - get the old school kind if possible (without the markings) so students have to 'think' and reason Tinker Toys - classic Lego's - any and all......who said you can have too many... read more

The VALUE of a tutor (note- this is different from the price of a tutor) is based on a tutor's ability to not only know the subject content/matter, it requires some one who understands how children learn and have multiple ways to explain a concept. The largest differentiator when you compare tutors is finding some one who also understands the proper way (no shortcuts) to teach math and science, how reading and writing (language skills) develop in a simultaneous manner and can converse in the area of why it is not good to teach misconceptions. After working for years in education and having been around top notch and new teachers, I have seen and experienced how easy it is for some one to 'teach' anything. One example of this is FOSS science, designed originally for elementary school teachers who lacked an actual science background. It was created where the instruction could be followed by a sub so even if the teacher was out, science need not 'suffer'. New math was supposed to be... read more

If there is one thing you insist your children complete, it would be Algebra and preferably by Grade 8. The magic in passing Algebra is the ability to think with logic. Logic allows your child to make important choices for themselves and their family, understand and participate in their community and have self efficacy. A lack of Algebra is a life of substantially lower quality. The nature of Algebra is such one can not learn it in one year...this is why there are so many pre-algebra math concepts. A child needs to master many different aspects of math in order to succeed in Algebra. It is not enough to add, subtract, multiply and divide. It is not enough to understand order of operations and what all those 'symbols mean'. Part of Algebra is the systematic format of problem solving (grinding the numbers). Another part is being able to do error analysis and correct (none of us are perfect and we need to know how to fix many different types of... read more

Ah, the first weeks of the new school year. Erasers smell fresh and look pink, binders actually click open and closed, the agenda book is fairly empty...As a teacher and a tutor, I am asked how I 'know' if a child is learning. This is fairly easy to answer, even though the answer is often not what the parent wishes to hear. I am writing this blog to explain what I do as a tutor and why WyzAnt promotes this type of communication between a tutor and parents. I wish every A grade correlated exactly to a wonderful, bright, on their way towards middle school, high school or college student and every D indicated an ill prepared student, one lacking in persistence, study habits or does not care. This is not nearly the case. Grades measured at school address specific items and applications of the learning process. An A is as good as the rubric, quiz, assignment it aligns to and a D grade is a combination of lack of effort on part of the student and effort from the parents, teacher... read more

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