The Skills a Tutor Learns on the Job

When we first become tutors, we are already expected to have certain attributes and skills, all of which are vital for our success as a tutor. Some skills we need as tutors are communication, organization, and past experience of working with children. However, as we progress as a tutor, we are expected to pick up a few more skills to further enhance our tutoring experience for the benefit of our students. These skills are skills that can also most definitely be applied to everyday life. So what are the skills a tutor must be able to pick up and learn on-the-job? From my personal experience, here are some you should consider:

1) Communication:

As tutors, we are already expected to be able to understand and communicate with, not only children, but also anyone we meet. As a tutor, we must also be able to communicate with the parent. We must be able to clearly state the student’s deficiencies and weaknesses to the parent as well as the student, both verbally and in the written form. We must be able to communicate on a consistent basis with the parent, whether it is by text or call.

Most importantly, we must be on the same page with the student and parent. With some students, it will be hard to communicate with them in a language and way they will understand and reciprocate to. In these instances, we must be able to adapt the best we can to accommodate their needs. Communication is a basic skill everyone in the world must have, especially those that must aid in a student’s academic performance.

2) Problem solving/ Adaptability:

Being able to solve problems is also a key skill you learn as a tutor. Many times you will encounter a topic that you might have a good understanding of, but it might be difficult to explain it to the student. This is where good problem-solving skills come into play. To be able to find a way to teach the student the concept in a way they will understand is a key element of being a good tutor.

During the time you are tutoring, you are subject to every-changing circumstances, whether it is your other responsibilities in life, the student’s changing schedules, or even the organization remodeling their business structure. We must be able to adapt to any situation the best we can. If our schedule changes in a way that a session we may have on a certain day is no longer possible to attend, we adapt wherever possible. We find another day we can do the session, even if we might have to reorganize our other responsibilities or communicate with other students to move to other timeslots. Adaptation is one of the main reasons why an individual is able to thrive in the world.

3) Initiative:

A good tutor learns how to take charge and seize the initiative. They are the ones that contact the parent first about updates to their service, and they decide what the student should do for the session rather than being hand-held on what they should do by the parent or student. Of course, they take input from the parent and/or student on the direction the session will go, but the final decision rests with the tutor.

The tutor learns leadership skills from their interactions with the student, and they act decisively in all matters regarding their students. If the student has a big test coming up, the tutor takes the initiative to suggest extra lessons or longer sessions. A good tutor always puts their foot forward and gets the job done the best way they can.

4) Empathy:

Being able to relate to your student on an emotional level is key to a healthy tutor-student relationship. As you progress further into you tutoring career, you will learn how to listen to problems and trepidations through your interactions with your students, because chances are, you are one of their go-to academic mentors. You might even be one of their role models.

Being able to listen and level with your students is good practice to be able to empathize with other people in the world. The more stories you hear, the more worldly you become with all of the experiences you hear through word of mouth, the greater your capacity for empathy will be.

5) Self-awareness:

When you are teaching a student, you are not just gauging where THEY are as a student, but you are gauging YOURSELF as a tutor. You see where a student is responding, and you see where they are not. You reflect on your interactions with a student you have good rapport with, and you reflect on another that is more distant. You reflect on students that listen well, and you reflect on students that talks and gets distracted often. Then you adjust accordingly.

You analyze your performance as a tutor, and you identify weak points in your teaching technique, and you resolve them. Your capacity for self-awareness should improve as a tutor, and the best tutors know what they can and cannot do. The more self-aware you are, the more you will improve in whatever it is you do.

So those are just some traits that all tutors learn on the job, and that all tutors must have to be successful. Obviously there are more skills a tutor needs than what is listed, but listing them all will take forever. Improve as a tutor, and you will improve as a person as well.

If you’d like to learn about the three most important skills that young graduates will need to thrive in an ever increasingly competitive work force, check out Stuart Adams presentation called How To Change The World.

About Dan Amazona

Dan has always been a high achiever with a particular strength in mathematics. He achieved an impressive ATAR, came DUX of his school and is now in his final years at Monash University studying to become a rocket scientist and TOTC home tutor.

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