Feature: 10 Steps To Better Tutoring

By Jimmy Teo Hui Thian (jteo@oum.edu.my)

A tutor is someone who gives instruction to an individual or a small group of people with the objective of helping, assisting and guiding them towards becoming independent learners. Having said that,
tutoring can be either fulfilling or frustrating depending on how tutors handle their learners. Dr Haim Ginott once said:

“I’ve come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or de-humanized.”

Such power our tutors wield! With this in mind, tutors should take steps to ensure that their tutoring experience is a fruitful one:

Step 1: Know your students - Take time to read your learners’ profiles and investigate their background. This will help you form a general idea of your audience so that you can pitch your discussion accordingly.

Step2: Set rules - Set class rules from day one. This will ensure transparency as well as clarify what you expect of your learners and what they can expect from you.

Step 3: Play a holistic role - Tutors are expected to assist learners to understand course materials and assignments, facilitate group discussions, clarify issues related to the course and provide clear course information.

Step 4: See the bigger picture - Tutors are advised to map out their tutorials well. Usually, there are 10 topics to cover within 5 tutorials. Ideally, a tutor must cover 2 topics per tutorial. This translates into 1 topic per hour. Manage your time wisely!

Step 5: Focus on content - Since time is not a luxury, tutors must have sound content knowledge in order to run focused tutorials. There is simply no room for idle talking and storytelling.

Step 6: Delivery technique - Tutors need to find the best way to deliver content. The use of ICT and multimedia are recommended when trying to explain difficult concepts and theories.

Step 7: Have empathy and humour - Having empathy means having the ability to put yourself in your learners’ shoes. Learners will feel more comfortable in tutorials if you show them you care. Humour can help create better rapport between tutors and learners.

Step 8: Higher levels of thinking - Tutors should constantly challenge learners to think at higher levels. Conventional thinking only brings the same old results. They should encourage learners to look at familiar situations with fresh eyes.

Step 9: Provide feedback and increase motivation - Tutors should constantly motivate learners to further their knowledge. This can be done by charting their learning progress and giving honest and positive feedback on their understanding of the subject. A kind word goes a long way!

Step 10: Reflect upon the past and plan for the future - It is good to get feedback from your learners so that you can reflect on what is happening in your tutorials. Reflection is an important tool you can use to identify weaknesses in your tutorials and an ally in planning for better tutorials ahead

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As a tutor, I believe that I can help learners to create learning spaces by:

Encouraging them to think independently by giving them short essay tests
Encouraging them to work as a group
Adding variety to the assignments and encouraging them to think from a different perspective
Ensuring that the tutorial room is always conducive for the learners
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