1st November 2021, 3:15pm.
“Don’t worry, you’ll be fine”, a chirpy message from Sarah pinged up on my phone, as I checked my elicitation task for the millionth time, “just be you!”
I’d been teaching for 8 years, met hundreds of different children, but here I was…feeling like it was Day 1 of my teacher training all over again. An hour later, and the smile on my face was the biggest it had been for a long time. I excitedly messaged Sarah, “I LOVE TUTORING!”
One term later I still wholeheartedly feel the same. So, if you have ever wondered what it is like stepping into tutoring from whole-class teaching- here’s what I learned in my first term as a tutor.
- Tutoring is not like whole class teaching
This seems like stating the obvious, but there are some people who expect school type lessons. But one of the many reasons why this doesn’t work is because the dynamics are different. When you teach a whole class, you expect lots of individual ideas and contributions which you weave together to build concepts, misconception challenges and the general flow of a lesson. With just one pupil, there isn’t the same weaving ability! Also, the chances are the pupil in front of you struggles at school. They find learning hard and the last thing they want is a fast-paced lesson that will set them up to fail. There are still boundaries- general politeness and engagement is expected- but tutoring is about building a love of learning and tackling gaps in small steps all personalised for the child. Instead of moulding the class to the concept, tutoring allows you to mould the concept to the child.
- Building relationships is still the same
It is just as daunting for the child, as it is for you. We are both strangers, meeting every week to do something that the child finds hard across zoom. That means you must work extra hard to ensure the rapport and relationship is built quickly. Finding out about your student, reading their body language, and gauging their reactions to games/tasks/bad jokes is invaluable to building rapport. It is such a special thing to watch a previously shy pupil crack their first joke or make a slightly sassy reply. It warms my heart every time!
- 30 minutes goes quickly
Blink and you miss it. Literally. My first session, I planned way too much! It’s fascinating how you can have some ideas about what you could be covering in that session, but then a simple question or misconception can take you off somewhere else. Never be afraid to explore those questions or misconceptions though- it is all part of learning and strengthening those neural pathways. Sometimes, leaving a gap in between the concepts shows you how well the pupils are retaining what you are teaching them.
- Tutoring means more creativity
As I previously have said, the children that tend to get tutored are those that find lessons hard. The concept that you are teaching them needs to be broken down and tailored to them and their learning styles. This may mean some blue sky, out the box and slightly wacky ways of getting the learning across. My favourite “trick” is to fool reluctant writers into orally creating amazing sentences. I will then label the word classes repeatedly when praising them (“what an amazing expanded noun phrase you used there- bright, glowing gem. Really great!”) Playing games, laughing, creating…all good things to help children learn!
- Progress is still satisfying
This is why we teach. We are addicted to those “ah-hah!” moments and we love seeing the progress in real-time. It warms our hearts when simple sentences are extended or if a pupil can tell me the Prime Number rules without saying “I don’t know”. I love helping children make progress, grow in confidence and be proud of themselves.
So as you can see, my first term as a Tutor has been a wonderful learning curve made even more special by the super children I see every week. My passion for educating has been completely unleashed and I absolutely LOVE creating lessons to suit the pupil. I finish every session with a big smile on my face…and the sentence “I LOVE TUTORING!” in my heart.
To sign up to find out what it is all about visit: https://tamarindtutoring.co.uk/register/ today!