The other day I showed up to a lesson, and as we began, I soon found out that the student had fallen behind on some of their online assignments. I quickly thought, “How did I not notice this? My clients are paying good money for me to help their child succeed and they are falling behind…nooo!”
I was a bit nervous about the situation because, well, I pride myself in offering the best quality service as a tutor. It sort of hit me in the gut. However, I had no time for self-pity and quickly did what I needed to do to resolve the situation. First, and foremost, I communicated the dilemma to the parents. They deserve and always need to know what’s going on. Secondly, I explained to them how we can quickly resolve it.
My priority that day was to have the student complete as many of the assignments as possible, while still learn the new content for the week. Sometimes it’s just a balancing act, and that’s what I had to do that day. At the end of our meeting, Dad asked me how to best prepare his son for our lessons going forward. We had a brief, but great discussion and the situation was resolved within a week. It was to my great relief to say the least! Now, here are my words of wisdom so that this doesn’t happen to you:
There isn’t much more to it than that. The lesson I learned here is that I need to be more like the parent and double-check that all our bases our covered as to where assignments are listed. Sometimes teachers post them on different places online so it can be confusing. But once that’s cleared up, your child will be well on their way to getting everything done on time and having the best meetings they can possibly have with their tutor.
I hope this information is useful for you!
Creating positive study habits
When it comes to study habits, in a perfect world our children would take the initiative to finish all their homework on time, with focus & accuracy, and ace all their tests. As you know, the world is not perfect. It’s full of distractions, our kids are busy with sports & hobbies, and things happen that are outside of our control. That’s perfectly ok and I want you to know that despite all those things, we as parents have a lot of potential to greatly influence our kids for them to create some pretty solid study habits. Here are a few tips to set them up for success:
Excellent math tutors abound a plenty, so how are you going to stand out from the rest of the pack and offer the best session to your students? Need a degree from MIT? How about a masters or PhD? Maybe a teaching credential? The answers are No. No. No. Say what?! Maybe you are thinking you’ve got to have a lot of great experience and a degree from a top university, and although that helps, it doesn’t have to be the case. In my opinion, I think that the only factors that matter are mastery of the topic you are going to teach, a few teaching strategies, and noble work ethic. There are, of course, other important attributes, but these, I think, are the heart of a solid tutoring session.
Let’s go into detail for each of the aspects mentioned above:
Mastery of the Topic You Are Going to Teach. I think it goes without saying that you should know your stuff, right? The best tutors will know all their formulas off the top of their head. They will know all the skills needed to master any topic. If a student sends you a list of concepts they need to study, you should know exactly what they are talking about and what resources to pull together for them. No need to say much more about this.
Teaching Strategies. Now we are talking about what to do from the time the lesson starts until it ends. First, and foremost, know what you are covering and make a quick assessment as to what can be accomplished in one session. If it’s just one idea, then your student is likely to achieve mastery in one sitting. In more advanced math, especially in honors classes, there can be several topics covered. If you don’t feel that you can finish everything, at the very least, cover at least a few problems from each topic that the student needs to go over. They can finish the rest on their own. Remember, your goal as a tutor is to help the student understand the material at a master level, not necessarily finish their homework with them. The student should be accountable for that anyway.
Once you’ve completed your assessment, it’s time to get to work. This is usually how it goes for me: warm-up (skills student needs to strengthen), teach topic (guided practice and Q&A; I explain steps with my own problem, and they simultaneously apply those steps to their homework problem), student completes problems independently (observe their process; Q&A; take a note of areas that need improvement and work on that particular skill before moving on), POP QUIZ! (one or two questions on what they just practiced completely independently-get them in “quiz mode”), and have the student teach the concept back to you. Repeat and modify as needed.
You’ll notice that in all the steps mentioned, the student is continuously active, even in your teaching moments. This is intentional so that they are constantly learning and gives them no opportunity to zone out. You only have one sitting with them, which is usually an hour, so make the most of it!
Noble Work Ethic. What exactly do I mean here? You may be thinking that all tutors are noble. Well, just like in any industry, there is a range of quality. Be the best you can be by doing the following: be present with your student at all times (stay off your cell during meeting…it’s just rude), observe your student’s process, ask them questions, encourage them to ask you questions, keep them focused, have them practice as much as possible, communicate with their parents about their progress and how they can improve.
Applying these methods are sure to get you on your way to 5 gold stars!
When it comes to finding the right tutor, there are several considerations to take into account. Are they highly qualified? What are their credentials and experience? What is their rate? What are they offering as part of their service? Final question -> Should I hire an online or in-person tutor? This is something we have to consider in today’s world. I’m here to help you make the right decision.
It boils down to your child’s personality, how much you can afford, and what kind of service you expect from the tutor. Here are the pros and cons of each method to help you decide what is best for you.
When Will i ever use this!?
Besides the usual excitement I get from students when they show up for a lesson (not really…lol), probably the most common reaction they have when faced with concepts in math that don’t make sense to them is a question like this, “When am I ever going to use this?” Initially, I used to respond with something like, “Well, there are some skills you are using here that can be useful someday, such as in finances.” It never really went beyond that, and I was truly not satisfied with the answer I gave them.
Now, after 10 years of hearing this, I have a more brutally honest and direct response, “Well, probably never, but you still must graduate high school. If you do take a career path that uses a lot of math, like say, a math teacher, then you will use it. However, it is more likely that you won’t, but there are still a couple of gains here:
Yep, that’s pretty much it for most people!
That being said, I want to focus on the practical application of math in personal finances. Specifically, in how we budget our money. Nowadays, many schools offer a class called “Financial Algebra.” I wish that I had a class like this growing up because it would have prepared me for the real world of credit cards, budgeting, and buying a car. These are areas of our lives that we can all relate to. Had I been more educated in the world of finances, I think that I would have made better decisions.
When you go into the real world after high school, you will begin to make your own financial decisions independently. Here are a few tips that can get you started on the right path:
I am not a professional financial advisor, so please don’t take this information as such. However, I believe these are basics that will lead you in the right direction. There is so much more we can talk about for each of these points, but let’s save that for another day 😊
how to become a master tutor
Not all learners are created equal, so how do you become the best tutor you can be with every student you work with? I believe it comes down to your mindset. Although you must adapt to each student’s learning style, there is a universal approach you can take when working with them. If you have children of your own, then this analogy will make sense. You see, as a parent, we want the best for our kids, so we will do pretty much anything to support them. If you, as a tutor, can look at each of your students as if they were your own child, then your dedication to help them succeed gets much easier. I don't know what it is, but this seems to put you, the tutor, in a more motivated, results-oriented mindset.
Don’t have any children? Perhaps a pet? The point is that you will take more dedicated care of the people you love. I’m not saying you must love your students but seeing them as your own can create impactful changes in the way you tutor. Try experimenting with this psychology on yourself the next time you work with one of your clients. Do it for a while and notice what happens. It is my belief that you will see positive results.
Here are some other quick tips on how you can become a master tutor:
There are many other tips I could give, but these are guidelines that I have used repeatedly and successfully. My hope is that they can also help you become a better educator. Maybe you’ll find something else that works for you and that’s great! As long as your student is progressing, that is all that matters.
Avoid summer slide and keep your student ahead of the game and ready for the next School year.
Yippee!!! Summer is in full swing and if you have little ones, don't you just love taking them to the park and seeing them speed down those summer slides and giggle with joy as they reach the bottom? This reminds me of a rainy day when my daughter and I just didn't want to be cooped up in the house. So, what did we do? We put on our snow pants, walked to our local park and slid down those slippery slides for fun. This is one of my favorite memories with my daughter and the best part was seeing her zip down so fast, that when she reached the end of the slide, she flew right off, caught some air, and landed with a small thud. We both just couldn't stop laughing!
Moments like these are fun indeed, but let's talk about another type of "summer slide." I'm referring to the occurrence of partly losing your skill set learned from the previous school year. I see it happen all the time with students, and even though I work in the field of mathematics, it can materialize within any subject. It may not seem like a big deal if your child struggled a bit, and you may even think, "We'll get back on track next year." While that may be true in some cases, I do believe it's best to deal with the issue as soon as possible. Math is a subject that constantly builds on itself. What that means is that when you learn a new concept, most of the time you will need to rely on previously learned skills to be successful with the new material. This is why it is so important to address skill deficiencies right away. If not, most likely your student will continue to struggle, and it will get harder for them to get back on track in the future.
It is especially important now to address "summer slide" because the online learning that took place in the last couple of years set our kids back even more. Having them at home was difficult for a lot of families, trying to manage their own work and simultaneously making sure their children stayed focused with their online classes. I can tell you from experience with my own 6th/7th grader at the time and I have the luxury of having one child and being able to work from home. I can't imagine those families with multiple children, especially young, and having to maybe leave home for work.
The good news is that there is an easy solution to this challenge. It's all about consistent practice with the right mindset, tools, and people.
Remember, that no matter how far your child is behind, they can recuperate and master all the skills needed to be successful in their future math class. Some may need more time, and others less. In any case, just start somewhere and put in some consistent practice. It's only July, so you have plenty of time to get your student prepped and ready for the next school year. If you need a private tutor, let me know and we can see if I am the right fit for you :)
Rossina here welcoming you to my blog :) Have you ever met someone who actually loves mathematics? Probably not, but that's me! I have been teaching math for 10+ years in a private one-on-one setting, helping families and students all over the country achieve mathematical mastery.