Wednesday, May 29, 2013

SAGE ADVICE - Planning Your Tutoring Session


Many times you may be asked to help a child understand a particular topic or problem area.  It is sometimes difficult  to know  “where to start” with such an open-ended request.  Here are a few suggestions to help you plan your tutoring session with a student.

1.      Think about your tutoring session in three sections or stages.  The three sections are 1) a motivational opening 2) the development of the lesson and  3) the closing. These stages will help the student remember the lesson more effectively and understand the concepts on a deeper level.

2.      Make sure your motivational opening is fun and engaging.  In this first section of the lesson you want to stimulate student’s interest in the topic or subject.  Students tend to think, “Why do I have to learn this?”    Thus, when you start a lesson try to include some element that shows the practical application of the lesson’s content.  You can tell or read a short story which highlights the concept in a practical application.  Another idea is to show a picture or diagram which visually shows the concept in action.  Or, you can start the lesson by asking the student some open-ended questions to peak their curiosity.

3.      Tap into the student’s background knowledge.   Make sure to ask questions to see what the student already knows about the subject.  They may know more than you think, but they may be having trouble integrating their knowledge or expressing it in the way the teacher is assessing. 

4.      During the development of the lesson break down the information in to small steps and praise the child for each step they accomplish.  Also, remember to assess the student’s knowledge periodically by asking questions By doing this, you know the students are retaining information and fully understanding the lesson.

5.      The closing section of the lesson should encourage the student to reflect on what they have learned and how they will use the knowledge.  Encourage the child to come up with their own ideas about how they can remember the information and how the information might be assessed in classroom exams or homework.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Working collaboratively with classroom teachers

Communication between  teacher and tutor is crucial.  With all the demands on teachers, it is sometimes challenging to have these critical conversations.  Teachers and tutors should work hand-in-hand in order to meet the needs of students and understand each other’s “worlds”.
Here is some "S.A.G.E." advice to initiate conversations:
       1.   Discuss what type of communication is best for the teacher and you (email, letters, phone
             conversations or meeting in person).

2.      Discuss the times of the day that are mutually convenient to have conversations about students or work assignments.

3.      Recognize that each year teachers may have different schedules and different demands put on them from the school administration.  Some years they will be coordinating programs and activities, in addition to their classroom work.  Some years teachers will have particularly large classrooms of students or large percentages of special needs students.  Both of these situations may impact the time the teacher has for conversations.  

4.      To make sure all questions and concerns are answered, keep a running list of your questions and bring the questions with you when you have time to talk with the teacher.  This will assure that all your questions can be answered in as efficient a manner as possible.

5.      Ask the teacher what types of reports or data they would like about specific students you work with, and how and when they would like to receive the information.

6.      Ask the teacher about any particular classroom rules or procedures that they want to make sure you follow.

7.      If appropriate, ask the teacher how they would like you to handle questions parents might ask you about their child who you are assisting.

8.      Be open to suggestions and supplemental material that the teacher may provide.

9.      Ask the teacher to be included in academic award ceremonies, if there are any, to exhibit collaboration between yourself and the teacher.  This will reinforce to the student that you are working with the teacher for their success.

Applying these steps will lead you down the path of success in the classroom and out!