Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Becoming a Math Tutor: Characteristics of Highly Effective Math Tutors

by Dr Alicia Holland Johnson

Year after year, it seems like more and more parents and students are looking for tutors, especially in mathematics.

It is very hard to pinpoint a specific reason, but there is one truth that remains - they are looking for highly effective tutors. There are three characteristics that are evident when working with highly effective math tutors.

These characteristics are the following:

1. Displaying Warm Welcomes and Positivity

Often times, tutoring can be viewed as using one single method that can be characterized as "sit and get", but highly effective tutors do not use this method. Instead, they focus their energy on getting to know the learner so that he or she can be comfortable in the tutoring session.

This strategy should be used at the beginning of the tutoring session and definitely throughout. Let's face it ... no one wants to pay for specialized instruction and only be told what he or she is having difficulty with.

Thus, it's very important to help the learner feel positive while he or she is involved in tutoring.

2. Applying Data-Driven Tutoring Strategies

Each tutor has his or her unique way of working with their clients, but there are some strategies that should be observed or discussed further when looking for highly effective tutors.

These types of tutors will have a system in place to get detailed learning information that should help him or her design a customized tutoring program.

Additionally, after each tutoring session, their clients can expect to receive some sort of progress report (i.e. monitoring notes) that consists of what was done during the session and how the learner performed.

Also, this report will have what needs to be covered and strategies to employ at home so that the learner can apply the skills learned in the tutoring session.

Another data-driven tutoring strategy that math tutors will employ is using a combination of technology and hands-on instruction. Not only does this get the learners engaged in the learning process, it also helps with helping them make constructive meaning of what they are learning.

In other words, learners are able to conceptually see how some math topics work, even with some topics in secondary math.

3. Assessing Learners' Progress during the Tutoring Session

Last but not least, highly effective math tutors will assess learners regularly throughout the tutoring session. This does not mean that the learner will be constantly taking assessments. Instead, he or she will be engaged in tutoring discourse that relate to the concepts studied in the tutoring session.

This strategy affords the learner the opportunity to use their own creative and critical thinking skills. Depending on the learner's needs, the highly effective math tutor may decide to engage in a mini-assessment towards the end of the tutoring session or even wait until the next tutoring session.

The bottom line is that highly effective math tutors will exhibit one or more of these characteristics with consistency and display a great deal of patience when working with their clients. Without reservation, any highly effective tutor is in demand, especially when it comes to mathematics.

About the Author

Alicia Holland-Johnson, EdD, is a proud mother of two beautiful daughters and an educator with ten years of teaching experience at all levels, including university teaching.

She also works as a professional tutor at iGlobal Educational Services and serves as a tutor consultant in the education industry. Her passion is helping individuals believe in themselves and go far.

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