Tutoring is both an art and a science. The best tutors are spontaneous, passionate, and creative, but they are also professional, well-rehearsed, and subject experts. All tutors are constantly striving to improve the delivery and content of a review session, whether it’s their 1st Exam-AID or their 21st.
A tutor can get better by focusing on a few key aspects:
- Listening to student feedback
- Learning from other tutors
Preparation is key to a successful Exam-AID. Students can easily discern whether or not a tutor is adequately prepared right from the beginning of a session. Several full rehearsals prior to the Exam-AID are necessary to become fully comfortable with the material. Would you go into an exam having only looked at your notes once?
Not only do tutors have to go into this exam, but they also have to be the students who come out with 100%. Explaining concepts comfortably and confidently is much easier when you have a firm grasp on the material.
When Waterloo SOS started conducting mandatory rehearsals for our tutors, we saw an immediate upswing in ratings and improved feedback. After the rehearsal, our tutors apply the feedback that they have been given again by themselves before their review sessions.
SOS Exam-AIDs are run by students, for students. So whom better to turn to for high-quality, constructive feedback?
I love when students provide concrete suggestions for tutor improvement. Most of the constructive criticism from my sessions is in two areas: rate of speech, and boardwriting.
When I ran my first few review sessions in 2009, almost all of the students would comment that I spoke too quickly. Now that I am consciously focusing on slowing down my pace and this feedback has steadily decreased.
Boardwriting is still an area of improvement, but it seems to get better the more I practice. I also enjoy hearing students’ suggestions about the format of the review session. This has helped guide me towards my preferred style of review session for math courses, where I do a question on the board after each major concept.
Learning from other Tutors
Another great source of inspiration as a tutor is my interaction with other tutors. As Head Tutor for Waterloo SOS, I’ve been privileged to see almost 30 tutors in action over the past year.
Each tutor has their own unique style and structure for their review sessions. Students love our tutor who solves questions interactively on a tablet and onto the projector screen. Another tutor is popular for his antics of throwing chalk during review sessions.
In talking with tutors from other chapters, I have learned about teaching methods for keeping students engaged, like the “thumbs-up-thumbs-down” technique popular at Laurier. Sitting in on another tutor’s review session is a great way to absorb new techniques and reflect on one’s own tutoring style.
Good tutors are born, but great tutors are developed. They are constantly improving thanks to better preparation, heeding student feedback, and learning from other tutors. Clearly, great tutors are great students, too!