Importance of the Head Tutor Selection
When it comes to looking at the development and continual improvement of the Exam-AID Review experience, tutor training and quality are critical. Whether a tutor is new or experienced, there is always room for improvement and progress. Generally, in order to train a tutor, one must first find a qualified trainer. I recommend choosing not necessarily the most veteran/senior tutor in your chapter, or even the highest rated, but the best combination of the two that you can find.
Proven history is one aspect of selecting the right person, but another very important aspect to consider is their overall leadership style. Some tutors can take control of a class like they were born doing it, but to “tutor Tutors on tutoring” I have found takes a very participative and interpersonal approach. Leading leaders can be quite difficult when confidence and egos come into play. It is therefore extremely important to the overall Head Tutor-Course Tutor relationship that a culture of mutual respect and comradery be developed and maintained. A Head Tutor must take the lead yes, but do it in a very respectful and discussion-based manner. Often, tutors will already be set in their own particular style of public speaking and preparation that a Head Tutor can only really communicate food for thought (that will lead to a longer term process of development).
Giving New Tutors the Best Chance at Instant Success
When it comes to training new tutors, it is best to arm them with every possible preparation technique you can think of and provide. This includes making sure they have access to as many course materials as possible. As well supplementary materials from other professors, websites, the volunteer portal (sessions run in the past at your chapter or another), and previous year’s exams can make the course material to teach a lot more transparent, giving the tutor a lot more confidence and control over their performance. Depending on the person, the new tutor will have varying levels of anxiousness, nervousness, and excitement. The Head Tutor must become aware of what degree of each of these the tutor feels. Based on their better judgment, it is then the Head Tutors responsibility and goal to adjust those degrees to their appropriate and necessary levels to ensure quality (nervous but confident, anxious but calm and collected, and excited but not the road runner excited).
Working with Experienced Tutors
In the case of approaching previous tutors, it is important to recognize them for the efforts they have already contributed. If a tutor does not feel appreciated for the work they have already done, it is very unlikely they will wish to push their limits and improve their performance. It is important that the Head Tutor and SOS volunteers in general (Presidents especially) take extra efforts to ensure their tutors realize the difference they are making. This can be done by congratulating on positive ratings in the past or emphasizing how far the money raised can go. After they are appreciated for their results, the Head Tutor or Co-Presidents must then seek to push them to achieve even greater results for the next time. Areas for them to focus on can very easily be identified among the most occurring comments and weaknesses laid out in the student feedback from previous sessions. Negative ratings and comments MUST be seen in a positive light. This can be done by approaching these as opportunities (and not personal attacks).
With regards to trial runs, I always made a distinction between the new and experienced tutors. If they were a new tutor, it was mandatory that they attend a trial run through of their session with myself (and the presidents/VP of Logistics should they wish to attend). The trial run should only cover the first 20 minutes or so of their session, just enough for you to get a feel of their style, preparation, performance, etc. Make sure to be taking notes throughout their trial run on your thoughts of the overall session quality. Articulate your thoughts to them and provide advice on how to improve upon the weaker areas. IF the trial run does not go well at all and you do not see much potential for improvement, DO NOT PUT THEM IN FRONT OF A CROWD (if they can’t perform at all for 1-3 people, they won’t do well for 40+ people). This is where you act as the gatekeeper. There is a little bit of leeway to be given to new tutors as it is their first time. But again, you are to ensure the quality of Laurier SOS sessions and if you see poor performance, attitude, and little/no potential for improvement then speak to the presidents and consider cancelling the sessions.
With experienced tutors, I do not make it mandatory that they meet for a trail run as long as they met the goal of at least 8.5/10 in their most recent sessions (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!). However, you should still stay in regular contact with them and stress that if they desire a trial run, then you are available. By conducting trial runs with all new tutors and current tutors who can still perform at a higher level, you effectively seek to address all the “weak spots” in the quality image of Laurier SOS. Another new initiative to explore is, if you can get the logistics organized ahead of time, to send out an internal email to all SOS volunteers (in your chapter) encouraging all students currently in the course to come to a free trial run (in which case they would run the whole session). This should probably be saved for any of the larger courses, in which high attendance is expected and the tutor is new.
Follow Up and Supplementary Training Resources
Should there be enough time before the sessions and you feel a second trial run is necessary, than offer it (if you have the time). You can also refer them to other sources that may help them improve. These include but are not limited to the “Tutor Training Video” on the Volunteer Portal, the course professor (if the relationship is in good standing), student clubs with a public speaking component/mandate (Debate Societies, Dale Carnegie clubs, etc.) or their peers! If they have developed a friendly relationship with the Head Tutor/VP/Co-President and seem to have a couple confidence issues, attending their session(s) for the first little while (sit in the crowd) can sometimes be an excellent confidence boost, knowing that you are there for moral support. Tutors serve as the forefront to SOS’ image and success (when people think of joining, the first question they ask is “can I tutor anything?”). In general, when a student doesn’t enjoy a session they tell at least 5 other people. This “exponential punishment” for poor quality sessions further emphasizes the importance of tutor training.