In Latin, the word “tutor” means “to guard,” and, indeed, tutors often serve as protectors and advocates for their students. It’s easy to assume that tutors don’t do much more than help kids pass tests but the truth is that a good tutor does a ton of other things to help students.
Below, we’ll explore some of the amazing ways a tutor can help a student.
A Cheerleader: A good tutor is a motivator who can inspire students. Lets’ face it, preparing for a standardized test isn’t always the most exciting endeavor, so it’s important that a tutor can help a student stay motivated and interested. A tutor’s ability to engage a student is at the heart of success in the working relationship. Unconditional positive regard, as well as a unique understanding of each student, allows a skilled tutor to cheer on his students even when things aren’t going smoothly. This unwavering support will go a long way toward instilling confidence and producing positive results.
A Fellow Traveler: Successful tutors try to avoid taking an “expert stance,” merely telling students what to do. This is not to say that a tutor is not an expert on the material he teaches, but rather that he goes with the student, meeting him “where he is.” The journey to taking a standardized test or to improving a grade in a class is not always a pleasant one, so having an empathetic and understanding fellow traveler with you on the trip will make it easier than going it alone.
A Jack of All Trades: As the title of this article suggests, tutors can (and should) do more than just sit behind a desk and teach: they can advocate for students, help parents navigate the academic world, refer clients for other services, and act as liaisons to the school and community. A tutor should work to advocate for the student in any way possible, whether this means contacting and working with teachers and the school or providing access to resources and other supplemental services. A truly invested tutor is ready and willing to help the student and his family with any struggles that might arise, never saying “that’s not in my job description.”
Getting to Know You: Your child should be more than just “another student” to your tutor; he should take an interest in the student’s life, get to know the family, and, thus, become an essential part of the academic experience. During my tutoring years, I was invited to students’ plays and sporting events, received holiday cards from my clients’ families, and got to know not just the student but also his siblings and other important people (and even pets) in his life. This personal touch is so important for building a relationship of trust. From this foundation, great academic and personal goals can be reached.
Open and Flexible: A great tutor is willing to understand his student and his unique academic challenges. Again, this means so much more than transmitting information to the student; it means being flexible in the teaching style used and understanding important factors like learning styles and disabilities. There is no “cookie-cutter” formula to tutoring—it is highly dependent on each unique student and knowing how to be open and flexible is the mark of a good tutor.
The next time you think of the word “tutor,” remember its Latin derivation: a great tutor has your best interests in mind and works to be, in many ways, a protector of all things in your academic life.
Written by Phil Lane
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