What makes a great tutor?

What Makes A Great Tutor

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. This, in a nutshell, summarizes what a good tutor needs to do, for the child to learn – Involve the child completely in the process. Sounds simple and easy? Not really, ask any school going child!  

How exactly, does one involve children in the learning process? Here things do get a bit more complex – not, primarily, because it’s very difficult. But, more often, because, teachers and tutors plunge head long into this reasonable challenge without being adequately prepared for what it takes. The minds of children do get distracted – hence, involving them or engaging their minds completely is far more difficult than a similar exercise for adults. Fortunately, clear understanding of some fundamentals to being a good tutor can help things. After all, knowing is half the battle!

The most basic thing is, of course, to know the subject matter well enough!

‘Well enough’ is the key here. The tutor needs to have adequate comfort on the subject to cover it at the right level of depth that’s appropriate for the student. After all, every student is different in terms of interests, drive and readiness. Like an expert race car driver knows to drive fast on straight roads while possessing the ability to navigate some tight corners. Similarly, the tutor needs to be able to go at full speed for students that are ready and clear. For students with limited interest or readiness, the tutor may need to know enough to link the subject to other topics of interest to the kid. Needless to say, one of the preferable characteristics of any tuition is children asking questions (sometimes very probing!) and the tutor better be prepared for the same with his knowledge!

Knowledge is necessary, but certainly, not sufficient! Ability to teach well, depends on some other critical things, as well

Haven’t we all come across teachers and professors (in real life or in movies) who are extremely knowledgeable but are unable to command the interest of students due to their relative ‘inability to teach’. What’s missing? Well, quite a few things! There are deserts not far from the sea – simply because, the sea water does not have a way to meaningfully reach such lands nearby!

For one, the tutor needs to be resourceful and smart to ‘deliver the goods’

While teaching students who may ‘not be ready’, it’s worthwhile to connect the subject to topics of their interest so that they get engaged. Say, if the topic is linked to summation and averages, smart tutors may link it to the performance of a cricket batsman in a series or rainfall in the city during the season. The real world topic of interest to children can quickly penetrate any barriers and directly engage their minds! Similarly, while talking about earth’s rotation or the concept of ‘day and night’, a globe model can nicely help visualize earth’s rotation. Actual fruits or toffees can help visualize basic math operations very nicely, without resorting to the black board based approach. You get the idea! Yes, there’s nothing that can stop the resourceful teacher’s ability to connect with his/ her students.  

Next, students connect better with tutors who (no surprise!) connect with them

This is one of the most important reasons for the typical horror stories involving bad teachers or tutors. Where the students’ minds do not or cannot connect with the tutor, it’s unlikely to develop any meaningful trust that’s needed for effective learning. So folks, if you desire to be an effective tutor – please make the effort to connect with the students! And, the good news is it isn’t difficult.

For starters, in multi student batches, calling students by their names is necessary. In addition, knowing their specific interest areas (at least, after a few classes are over) can help relate better to them. If anything, this can be of immense help while clarifying doubts emanating from individual students. A periodic rapport with their parents/ guardians will be quite useful for mutual connection and developing trust. As always, the keen tutor will find more ways to connect with the child, as relevant for the situation!    

Being natural and ‘real’ boosts trust and hence, learning of students

An effective tutor comes across as authentic and real to the students. By this, students see the tutor as a normal human being and one who means well for the students. So, no scripted language or artificial accents, please! In fact, it does help if the tutor (perhaps sometimes, certainly not often!) mentions times when he/she’s made mistakes or found himself/ herself wanting, relevant to the topic. Of course, the ways to make amends or suitable tips to handle the mistake are always useful!

The idea is to show that mistakes are very much possible and can happen. As a bonus, it gives confidence that these mistakes can truly be stepping stones to greatness. As a thumb rule, when a student feels comfortable with a tutor, he or she will be more willing to make mistakes and look for corrective ways. This is a healthy signal for learning things well.

What Makes A Great Tutor

Of course, the tutor’s Emotional Quotient (EQ) can strongly accelerate the learning outcomes

High EQ of the teacher can add strongly to the effectiveness of the learning process. High EQ means things like being adaptive, realistic, calm, patient, forgiving etc.  This means the student is comfortable in the learning process. The awareness that mistakes would not be judged but only evaluated dispassionately, puts students firmly in the learning zone. The adaptive and realistic tutor handholds during times of difficulty, while accelerating the pace of learning for difficult and favorite topics. The icing on the cake is the tutor’s calmness while handling repeat mistakes and helping manage pride during times of success, since learning is a long term process!

Never forget what Socrates said about students – I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think. In fact, that’s the core motto of Concept Tutors too. Our tutors represent the right blend of subject matter expertise and Emotional Quotient, and guess what? The icing on the cake is our platform that enables the teachers to connect well with the students and deliver the concepts efficiently. More information can be had at: https://www.concepttutors.com/

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