Twenty-One Keys to Successful Tutoring

1. Extoll your pupil for good behavior; ignore half the bad behavior, and reason with them regarding the half. Don’t, however, debate over a clear violation of the rules.

2. Have a positive attitude. If you can’t be engaged and enthusiastic, your pupil will find it hard to be so, too. You are, after all, a role model.

3. Always bear in mind the reason why you tutor, why you seek knowledge, and why you want to disseminate among others.

4. Lay down a set of ground rules regarding behavior during tutoring sessions, and stick to them.

5. Never be late, and always make it clear that you expect your pupil to be on time, too.

6. Conduct your tutoring business with an eye towards organization.

7. Students are your main priority. You are there to help them learn first and foremost. The derivation of pleasure from teaching should be present, but it should never eclipse placing the student at the locus of your attention.

8. Be professional, but not aloof.

9. You are tutoring to help the student push their intellectual boundaries. Every parameter should be pushed, if not outright broken, and your pupil should understand this.

10. While acting professional, display a sense of humor and levity; you want your student to be comfortable with you, and even to be able to share a laugh even while maintaining respect for your position.

11. Set goals for yourself and your pupil, and expect them to be reached. Be disciplined, but not a disciplinarian.

12. Listen and engage in discourse; do not just lecture, as most students will ensure your words travel through one ear and out the other!

13. Encourage questions, and be wary when none are asked.

14. Never discuss any personal business under any circumstances.

15. Look for differences in a student’s approach, and seek to understand always the unique way your pupil learns. Tailor your lessons accordingly. As a tutor, this is your greatest advantage over professors and teachers!

16. Have high expectations both of yourself and your student. No one ever achieved anything worthwhile without being put to the test.

17. Critique yourself constantly; analyze your teaching abilities honestly. Don’t be too soft or too hard on yourself.

18. Be honest with your students, too. A teacher who does explain weaknesses frankly may mislead a pupil into thinking he/she does not need to strive harder at a given task.

19. Be prepared. Never show up without having thoroughly planned a lesson.

20. Understand that, no matter how well you plan, things never actually go according to plan!

21. Never spare criticism, and never do that which the pupil can for himself or herself accomplish. But where assistance is needed, be delighted to give it.


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