Tutors are doing more of their work these days online, but are they doing it well?
As the CEO and founder of Tutor Tango LLC, a company focused on delivering the best possible online tutoring experience, I’m very much concerned with the quality of instruction and mentoring delivered by our tutors. To help them out, I’ve established some guidelines based on the input of students and parents who’ve tried our service; on the input of tutors and teachers who’ve worked extensively online; and on my own experiences as both an online and in-person tutor.
In sum, I’ve found that the best possible online tutoring experience is one in which the student feels as if the tutor is right there with them; one in which the technology fades into the background as learning takes center stage. With this in mind, here are 5 tips to help online tutors maximize the learning experience of their students.
5. Do whatever you can to neutralize the technology.
In other words, set yourself up to avoid technical problems, or--if they do happen--to react to them calmly. Have a troubleshooting plan in place, and share the protocol with your student in the first minute or two of your session. Put some troubleshooting tips on an organized, simple PDF, and make sure the student has the document open on his or her desktop or tablet as the session begins.
4. Get back on track quickly if something does go wrong.
Even the best planning and preparedness can’t prevent the occasional glitch. If the audio feed echoes, the video is delayed, or a laptop runs out of battery juice (things that are no different from the kind of disruptions that might happen during an in-person session), use your troubleshooting plan to resolve such problems quickly, then get back to tutoring. Don’t spend too much time apologizing or dwelling on what went wrong. Just move forward.
3. Be charismatic.
It’s easy to bring energy and enthusiasm to a live, in-person tutoring session, but it may be a bit of a challenge when you’re not sitting right next to your tutee. So turn your charisma up a notch: project your voice a bit more; make bright, open eye contact. Be as lively and engaging as you can be.
2. Work in a quiet setting conducive to effective tutoring.
Maximize your ability to hear your tutee by eliminating background noises, such as a loud air conditioner (or use a headset). Check to make sure that what’s behind you isn’t distracting. And if you share your workspace with a roommate, family, or friends, make sure they know your tutoring schedule so they don’t disrupt you while you’re at it.
1. Pay attention to your tutee.
Is your student really tuned in, or is he or she messing around on Facebook or Instagram? If you suspect something is distracting him or her, ask about it. Or nip potential distractions in the bud by reminding your tutee to put his or her cell phone away and close all unnecessary tabs, windows, or anything else that might interfere with learning before you get started. Beyond that, continue to engage your student throughout the session. Request that he or she do some writing on the whiteboard, or simply ask to have key points repeated back to you.
In the end, these tips will only get you so far. If you’re a great tutor in person, or a great teacher in the classroom, then be that fantastic educator when you’re working with a student online.