Read Good tutor vs. great tutor first for my thoughts on the qualities of a great tutor.
Now that you know what makes a great tutor, how do you go about finding one?
The good news is they are out there; the bad news is it often takes time and a lot of diligence to find them. The process may require some trial-and-error, but once you discover the right fit, the result will be well worth the effort. In this post, I offer some helpful tips to keep in mind as you work with various tutors.
This may be obvious, but before hiring a tutor, get to know their background. Do a little research and talk to them about their experiences as well as your expectations. Discuss logistics such as where to hold the lessons, how often to meet, and their rate to make sure it’s within your budget. Most importantly, ask about their teaching style and what they need to help their students succeed. A top tutor should be able to speak to these topics readily.
The one thing you should never request at this point, however, if for them to commit to helping your student achieve X grade or obtain Y score on an exam. It’s too soon and unreasonable to demand of someone who hasn’t even worked with your student yet. No tutor should make this guarantee on the spot because they know this type of assessment takes time to make.
Once you’ve determined that your goals align with your tutor’s, you’re ready to enter the most important phase: the trial. In my opinion, this phase should last a few weeks, up to a month or two. During this time, you should be observing and asking the following questions:
- Is the tutor prepared for the lessons? If you’re looking for a tutor to provide supplemental help in a subject during the school year, then they should make every effort to acquire the necessary materials before the lesson so they can prepare properly.
- Does the tutor engage the parents in the process? As a parent, you spend more time with the student than anyone else, so it only makes sense for you to be involved. Great tutors will keep you informed with periodic progress updates and provide action items if necessary. This not only opens the line of communication, but also increases transparency.
- What is your student’s opinion behind closed doors? You may love the tutor’s personality or respect their many accolades, but at the end of the day, the student’s opinion is what matters most. Does the tutor’s teaching method work with your student’s learning style? Does the tutor consistently follow up on promises they make? This is also the perfect time to reassess whether the amount of time the student spends working with the tutor is adequate.
If all goes smoothly during the trial phase, congratulations! It would appear that you’ve found a great fit for your student. From here, as long as the same principles as those in the trial phase still apply, you can relax and trust that the tutor you’ve selected has your student’s best interest at heart.
So there you have it, a quick guide to help you start the process of finding the right tutor for your unique situation. I hope this helps. Good luck!