Becoming a better tutor part 4: Tailoring your lessons to less common learning styles
Last article we discussed different types of learning and their importance. To recap, everyone learns in a different way. Some learn visually, others learn through conversation, some will learn through reading and writing, and others will learn by solving and doing.
It’s important to take this into account when planning and structuring your lessons for a long-term student. I recommend finding out what type of learner they are in the first lesson. Student retention is strongly correlated to affability and learning, both of which can be seriously increased by adapting your lesson plans based on learning types.
It’s also a really important part of tutoring. In schools, most classes are twenty to thirty people; teachers don’t have the time and resources to create a unique learning pathway for each student. However, in small groups of students and private lessons, you have an opportunity to give a student your full attention and provide them with an amazing learning experience.
We’ll discuss the other two types of learning now. Again, there are many more types of learning that are more specific and involve a blending of the types of learning we’ve discussed.
Read-write learners tend to excel in our conventional schooling systems. They prefer information in writing and learn through listing ideas and concepts on paper. They emphasise both sides of text, writing and reading their ideas.
For read-write learners, you should try and encourage your students to write out key-words in lists and diagrams. Encourage them to take notes throughout your discussion and when you’re explaining a concept to them. Most importantly, make sure that you give them time to write these notes, so slow down when you can see them thinking deeply and writing their thoughts.
They learn best by re-writing and processing. For example, they will process a graph or diagram into statements (“The trend here is that demand increases when…”), so make sure you give them enough time to process this new information.
Kinesthetic learning is unique, and if you’re able to provide a catered learning experience for a kinaesthetic learner, you’ll be in high demand! They tend to use all their senses to engage in learning, and learn by doing and solving real-life problems.
Try and analogise complex problems into real-life issues. The classic example of this is “If I have one apple, and John gives me two apples, how many apples do I have left?” for basic addition. A more complex example is breaking something like elasticity down in economics. “If the government taxes water, would we need less of it? How would you respond? Can you really use that much less water than you currently do?” and so on.
Provide trial and error problems; let the student try and answer it in his own words and don’t try and spoon-feed an answer to the student. This is really important, and although it might take longer to cover topics, you are ensuring that they fully understand what you are teaching them.
Next article, we’ll discuss how to identify what type of learner your student is, and then how to plan each lesson around them.