Greetings are the next hurdle on the way to completing a successful tutoring session. Greetings are easy to implement, but are sometimes skipped over in a hurry to get tutoring underway. By ignoring this step, the tutee is not given the opportunity to get comfortable with the tutor. Without this comfort level, the tutee will find it more difficult to disclose information needed to resolve issues. Greetings help establish a rapport that will be carried throughout the session.
Greeting New Tutees
Coming to tutoring for the first time can be very intimidating. Because of this, you will need to allow some time for both yourself and tutee to get to know each other. To do this, start out the session by telling the tutee a little about yourself– major, hobbies, etc. After letting them know something about you, ask the tutee about himself. What is his major? Who is her instructor? What are her hobbies and likes/dislikes? You can use this information later in the session. Relate new material to material in which the student is already familiar. This will increase his rate of comprehension. For example, if the tutee likes horses, the tutor might relate a math problem to the furlongs on a racetrack.
At this point in the tutoring process, it is very important to listen carefully to any questions and concerns your tutee may have. This will aid you in determining the focus of your tutoring session.
Greeting Returning Tutees
When a session starts, we do not mean to say that you should carry on an extensive conversation with a returning tutee. A few minutes of general conversation should suffice to allow both the tutor and tutee to feel comfortable with each other and their expected roles.
It is also important to review expectations with your tutees.
Tutees should know that:
- YOU (the Tutor):
- Are not a homework machine. It is up to the tutee to do their homework. A good strategy is for you to work similar problems with them and leave the assigned homework problems for them to do on their own.
- Are not a miracle worker. The tutees are not going to magically be able to solve every problem at the end of a tutoring session. Also, if the tutee procrastinated throughout the semester, cramming with you during finals week will not produce great results.
- Are not an instructor. We do not teach the material to students; we help them with strategies to help them learn the material.
- Will not know ALL the answers to EVERY question ALL the time. When you do not know the answer to a question, this is an ideal time to model good academic behavior for the student. Show them how you would figure it out, e.g. look in the book and their notes for similar examples, reason through the problem, etc. An important thing to remember while you are doing this, though, is to give voice to your thoughts as you go through the process. Let them know what you are thinking as you attempt to find an approach to solving the problem. Also, remember that other tutors and professional staff members are great resources, not just for tutees, but for tutors as well.
- THEY (the Tutees):
- Are expected to be an active participant and contributor in their sessions. Tutoring is a two-way street, one in which tutees should play a very active role.
- Should bring all relevant materials, including textbook, the syllabus, class notes, assignment instructions, past papers, and past tests to tutoring sessions.
- Should come prepared by:
- Attending class – again, we are not instructors, we will not teach the class to them.
- Taking notes – if they need help with note-taking, work with them on those skills, if they missed a class, let them know that they need to get the notes from a classmate.
- Reading assignments – they should understand what the assignment is and have already prepared for it.
- Trying homework problems – it is a waste of their time and your time (and, thus, another potential tutee’s time) for them to come without having attempted their homework problems.
Once these guidelines have been established, you should give tutees the opportunity to discuss their expectations from tutoring. Do they want a certain grade in a class? Do they want help with study skills? Are they performing poorly on tests? The answers to these questions will give you a good indication of what role to play in their learning.