A tutoring job is a lucrative career path that pays well. If you are looking to become a tutor and help students perfect their skills and improve their knowledge, then these tutoring skills will come in handy.
While we become tutors for all sorts of different reasons, the goal remains the same: To become better tutors.
This, of course, comes with experience as you get to work with a diverse group of students offline and online. However, mastering the skills below will help you get there faster.
Essential Tutoring Skills That Make a Good Tutor
Some of the skills you need to be an effective tutor include:
1) Topical Mastery
You need to know your topics well in order to be able to explain them to your students in a way that they can understand. Being a great tutor means you understand your subject to a point where you can explain it from different angles or demonstrate it with the help of teaching tools such as cards, mindmaps, etc.
Tutors, though not perfect, are always refining their knowledge. This means, from time to time, you need to undertake private study, take online courses and attend a series of live training in areas that interest you, either academics or teaching methodologies. This way, you become a better tutor that parents and students want to work with.
To keep your students engaged and interested in what you are teaching them, you need to be creative in how you explain complex concepts. Tutoring, especially private tutoring, presents an opportunity for you to employ creative means and tools to help your students grasp complex concepts.
By guiding students to think creatively, identify problems and find solutions to them, you get to help them become versatile, resourceful, and adaptable.
Today, there are many ways to foster learning that do not involve rigid syllabus adherence. Use day-to-day tools that students interact with to convey knowledge, and expand reading materials to include TV, podcasts, internet, and online programs as you deem fit.
Some of the ways you can employ creativity in your tutoring sessions include:
- Encourage questions as students are naturally curious and inquisitive by nature.
- When doing group sessions, you can encourage discussions. For private lessons, student-tutor discussions can also work where you engage the student to have a conversation with you around a particular topic
- Use visual aids like graphs and charts to help simplify complex concepts
- Introduce unique learning tools, beyond notes and textbooks. Some of the resources you can leverage include animated tutorial videos for demo purposes, YouTube videos, TedTalks, Magazines, and Podcasts.
3) Patience and Understanding
The students you work with come from different regions with diverse cultural backgrounds. Some students are fast learners, while others only catch up after you have explained the concept a number of times. The ability to be patient and understanding come in handy here.
Now, patience also informs how you choose to teach a given topic. For instance, you could:
- Show a student a route to solving a particular problem, or help them experiment with given concepts
- Tell students what constitutes great art, or help them in analyzing multiple examples and let them share or report on why they think certain pieces of art were better done than others.
- Show students how to build a successful campaign, or ask them to analyze media campaigns and share their opinions on why some were more successful than others.
The easier route often doesn’t foster long-term retention of concepts or enhance clear understanding and critical thinking.
4) Executive Functioning Skills
Tutors are solopreneurs by nature, and to get things done, you need to have some of the crucial executive functioning skills.
Here are some executive functioning skills you need as a tutor:
- Organizational skills: Being an effective tutor means that you know your tutoring topics beforehand, and prep properly for the sessions. You don’t want to start a session and realize that you can’t find your notes or your slides. You will also be dealing with several clients, so knowing who is up next, and the location is important
5) Communication Skills
Communication is one of the critical tutoring skills one must have and refine as a tutor. When explaining concepts, you need to relay the info in a way that your students understand. Use cues to strengthen your messaging.
To communicate effectively as a tutor, you need to:
- Listen actively: When engaging with your students, listen actively to pick up on everything they are trying to say. As an active listener, you attend to nonverbal cues and symbolic and verbal messages. When students know you are listening and caring about what they are saying, they become more confident and willing to share more.
- Encourage clarification: When discussing concepts with students, you can encourage them to elaborate on their points by probing more into the subject.
Being an effective communicator also means that you are updating your students with what they need to know, before the next session.
6) Flexibility / Adaptability
Being a flexible tutor means being willing and capable of adjusting teaching techniques and approaches to meet the learning styles of your students.
Every student learns differently, and if you are working with a student as a private tutor, you should be able to tell what methodologies will help them better understand the concept at hand.
This means being willing to adjust techniques and approaches to meet the learning styles of the student.
7) Time management skills
Being a strict time manager will help you cover the topics as per stipulated time and follow your lesson plans without fail, but it also means that you are able to work with different students without clashing schedules.
Common Tutoring Strategies
As a tutor, you will employ different tutoring strategies, techniques, and methods that help students grasp new concepts.
Some of the most common tutoring techniques include:
- Concept demonstrations
- Socratic Method
- Fast-Paced Drills
- Role Alternation, and
- Assessment through games
- The Pause Procedure
What Makes a Good Tutor
Being respectful, friendly, diplomatic, a good listener, and being able to build a rapport are all the traits that make a great tutor, and they all require good communication skills.
Other characteristics that make a good tutor include:
- Ability to build strong, personal relationships with students
- Ability to inspire confidence in their students
- Ability to improve students' study skills
- Ability to personalize learning
- Sharing your own personal experiences when applicable
- Ability to break down complex concepts into digestible pieces
- Openness (accessibility, availability, reliability, involvement, empathy, )
There are many qualities and characteristics that make a good tutor, and since every one of us is differently equipped, we cannot possibly exhaust these traits. That said, the tutoring skills discussed in this article are crucial if you want to build a career and make money as a tutor.