5 Important Lessons I’ve Learned as a Tutor

Ideas that aren’t at all limited to teaching

Tutoring on a blackboard
Tutoring on a blackboard
Photo provided by Unsplash

The Importance of Listening

My assumption when I started tutoring was that I would explain most of the time and that my students would primarily listen. To some extent my assumption was correct, but I also found out that by listening to my students and asking them to explain the concepts to me, they improved their skills more rapidly and I was able to better assess the areas they needed to work on.

There’s No Substitute For Showing Up

Inevitably when tutoring, there are days when my students just don’t want to work. It might be because they are having a bad day at school, didn’t get enough sleep, or simply because they want to do something more active than math. Ultimately, even on the worst of these days, the time spent doing work, even at a reduced pace or with a suboptimal attitude, helps them improve. Though the effort pays off in more ways than simply improving test scores. They also learn that they are capable of overcoming the obstacles that seek to overthrow them. In a way, learning that you can learn is more important than the specific things that you learn. Showing up matters just as much as what you do when you get there.

Everyone is Unique

Before tutoring, I had often heard that “everyone is unique”. I wrote it off as a kind of nothingism like “celebrity is as celebrity does” but after teaching two brothers of similar ages, I realized the profound meaning behind the ostensibly empty saying. No two people are the same, regardless of geographic, genetic, or cultural similarities. This is because of how many factors make up an individual. Since these factors are so numerous, they have a very slim chance of ever being repeated in the same combination. Therefore, people are unique. Anything else would go against everything we know about probability and randomness as well as my experience working with others. Let’s now explore the real-world implications.

Believe In People And Help Them See Their Potential

Often while I am tutoring, I will encourage the students to overcome difficulties in their lives, not just in their studies. I help them see the good that they can do. The good that they are already doing. Doing this improves their work, focus, and mood.

Checking In

After each session, I like to discuss my pupils’ progress with their parents. Sometimes these conversations are fairly long and involved and other times they might consist of only a few sentences. The point is to consistently provide and receive feedback on what is going well, what should be worked on, and what needs to change going forward.

Endnotes

As always, thanks for reading and feel free to comment suggestions for improvement, or just new topics you’d like me to write about. I’ve been a tutor for over a year now and it feels like the time flew by. Lots of life lessons can be learned from tutoring. The things above are all tips or ideas which have helped me become a better tutor and a better person. I have found that teachers can learn just as much from their students as their students can from them. The truth is that by helping other people learn, you can’t help but learn yourself.

I like to write about technology and personal growth.

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