So, you have a student! Congratulations. It’s a milestone every tutor looks back on with happy memories, and you will too.
Sure, it may feel like stepping into the unknown right now, but if you just follow these simple steps, you’ll hit the ground running.
1. Settle your nerves
After getting their first student, some tutors suddenly find themselves overwhelmed with the question…’what have I done? I’m not a tutor!’
If you’re thinking the same, don’t. And you are a tutor!
Just ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?
The activities don’t go quite as planned? Then you’ll know how to improve them next time.
The student already knew a lot of the things you were teaching them? Then it was a great opportunity for revision, for them.
The truth is, every student-tutor relationship has its own dynamic, and some find their feet faster than others. If things seemed a little strained at first – don’t lose any confidence in yourself.
Like all the good things in life, great tutor-student teams take time.
2. Know the exams that they’re doing
It’s likely that your students, and very possibly your first student, will be preparing for an exam. It’s important that you know the syllabuses for the subjects you’re teaching, beforehand.
- The course specifications: what the students need to know.
- Real examples of past-papers, so you can help your students to know what to expect.
- Teaching resources that you can use in class.
- A breakdown of how the students will be assessed.
If you’re preparing your first student for an exam, it’ll actually make your life easier! With the right preparation, you’ll know exactly what you need to teach, and how you can be of the most help.
3. Know what the student wants and needs
A great tutor knows and works with the student’s wants and needs. SO, it’s important to get on top of this, right from the word ‘go’.
Before, and during the first lesson, give yourself a head start:
- First things first – ask the parents! Know what their expectations for their child are, and what kind of student they see them as.
- Next, ask the student. It seems obvious, but most tutors forget to actually ask students what activities they like! There are different kinds of learners. Know which your student is.
- Prepare a test to get a solid idea of a student’s prior knowledge. As a one on one tutor, you can really tailor future lessons to your student’s specific needs. First, you need an idea of what those needs are.
- And finally, remember to always give them feedback!
4. Have back up activities up your sleeve
This is one of the ten tutoring commandments. Whether they’ve been in the game for one month or one decade, all good tutors have plenty to draw from throughout a lesson.
This is even more important for first time tutors, for two key reasons:
- It gives you confidence. You never feel thin on the ground, and if something isn’t working, you can stop it and move on without worrying about running out of materials.
- Every student is different. Some like to burn through multiple activities, others like to take their time. It’s important to prepare for both eventualities.
5. Plan flexibly
It’s a common misconception that tutors should have a minute-by-minute plan of absolutely everything that will happen in a lesson.
In fact, having such a rigid lesson plan is more of a hindrance than anything.
You’re teaching a human being, not a robot! If they’re getting more out of a ten minute activity than you thought, let them keep going. Give them the opportunity to learn by discovery!
Likewise, if they’re just not in the mood for, say, a fifteen minute writing activity – save it for homework, and don’t be afraid to rejig your lesson on the spot.
6. Don’t worry if you don’t achieve everything you set out to
Some of your lessons will work like a dream: Your student will enjoy all of the activities, learn everything you wanted them to, and leave with a few more brain cells.
Other times, your student may have a little more trouble getting their head around the new information.
If this happens in your first couple of lessons, you might feel like you’re doing something wrong. Relax. With a little experience, you’ll know that that’s just the way things go, sometimes.
Don’t push your student to achieve all of the aims you set out to, no matter what. Be patient, and let them work at their own pace. If you do that, no matter how much progress is made in one class, you’ll be delivering a great lesson.
7. Have some fun!
Despite the fact that some teachers seem adamant that education should be boring and stressful, learning and fun actually go hand in hand.
Making lessons fun engages your students, helps their memory retention, and let’s actually enjoy the subject they’re learning in ways they never realised that they might.
It’s also a key building block in creating a trusting and positive relationship between a student and a tutor. Lessons have an ebb and flow, and students will be more than happy to tackle slower, difficult tasks, if they know something enjoyable is just around the corner!
8. Tell the student what you’re doing, and why.
A lesson doesn’t need to be a bag of secrets, for the tutor’s eyes only! It’s a good idea to involve your student in their learning, and explain why you’re doing certain activities, for a number of reasons:
- It’ll give them confidence in you, as their teacher.
- It’ll make them into more autonomous, self-motivated learners.
- It gives them a sense of direction, and goals to work towards.
Your first lesson shouldn’t be something that you fret about, or find stressful. It should be something you relish, and enjoy!
Sure, it might not be the greatest class of your life (but then again, there’s no saying it won’t!), but that’s the whole point!
By following the simple steps above, you’ll be well on the way to becoming a quality, and successful, tutor!
This is Part 2 of a 3 post series. You can check out the other two posts below when you are ready – or right now 🙂