What are the characteristics of an effective tutor? I posed this question to several students and their responses varied, but they all agreed that effective tutors possess all the PERKS; they are Passionate, Empathetic, Reliable, Knowledgeable, and Simple. The last characteristic surprises you, doesn’t it? Read on and you’ll get it.
Passion is contagious. Are you passionate about your subject matter and helping others? If you are, it’s likely your students will pick up on it. Passion sparks curiosity and with curiosity the learning will continue even after your tutoring session. Ignite curiosity in your students and show them that you care. Check out these TED talks from passionate teachers!
Can you relate to your students? Have you ever struggled to wrap your brain around a new concept or found a new language impossible to learn? Your students need to know that you’ve been in their shoes. The relationship between a student and a tutor is one of mentoring. Create a comfortable atmosphere where your students feel at ease asking for clarification, making mistakes and offering feedback. Listen to your students, show empathy and adapt your lessons to fit their learning styles.
Your students need to be able to count on you. As a private tutor, you are accountable to your students and yourself. Value your students and take pride in your tutoring business. Show up on time and if you need to cancel a lesson, give your students sufficient notice. Your reliability will increase your credibility. In addition, if you promise to email or call your students before your next lesson, do it.
As a tutor, you should be knowledgeable and well-versed in your subject matter. You should feel confident explaining the subject matter to students and answering their questions. Twitter is an excellent way to connect with others in your field and stay abreast of new research and teaching methods.
Can you take abstract concepts and make them concrete? Can you use simple terms to explain a complex theory? A good tutor knows that simplicity is essential to communicating a message. Your knowledge and expertise does not match that of your students’. This does not mean that you need to dumb down the subject matter, but rather use terminology that is familiar to your students. Can you take the core of that lecture and communicate it in simple terms? An effective tutor’s lessons are simple and memorable. For more on making your lessons and ideas “sticky”, I recommend reading Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.
Do you have what it takes to be an effective tutor? Do you have all the PERKS?