Becoming a better tutor Part 6: Crucial factors that could be hindering your student’s ability to learn
People learn at different speeds. Some of the ‘smartest’ students in the class are often the ones that can learn the fastest. Throughout Primary School and High School, there is not a single class or concept that provides an intellectual barrier that can’t be overcome by hard-work and a good educator. However, there are certain things that can seriously affect a student’s ability to learn, and their speed of learning. We’ve gone through some basic impediments, like teaching your student in an incorrect style, or not having an organized lesson plan, but what about things that most tutors don’t think about?
This is a tough one, and probably the overall largest factor to a student’s success in school. You should be attempting to motivate your students as much as possible. If they’re really not enjoying the specific topic, try and zoom out and show them the big picture. By working hard in this boring maths course, they can get the marks to get into a degree they are truly interested in. Or try and use analogies to make the material seem more relevant to them. Motivation is a tough puzzle to crack, and you should slowly try and work on it every single lesson.
Maturation – Physical and Mental Development
Students mature at different ages. Some might mature as early as year 7 or 8, but for the majority of students, it takes a while. This is a big reason why tutoring younger children can be so much harder than tutoring senior students. You really have to remember how you felt at that age. Conversational techniques might work for many teenagers, but trying to have a serious discussion with a primary school student can prove to be much harder. Try and make work more interactive for students who haven’t seriously matured yet; also make sure that you establish your authority. You aren’t their parent and shouldn’t go as far as disciplining the child, but don’t let them goof around for an entire lesson whilst you sit there and listen.
Timing is important, and linked to motivation and maturation. Three hour long lessons after a long-school day for a young, unmotivated student can seem like pure hell. They’ll shut off after the first twenty minutes, and you’ll be just as bored. Make sure you work around their schedule. Young students shouldn’t be locked up in a tutoring lesson for multiple hours after a full day at school, or it’s simply a waste of money. For young students, make sure that they get breaks between longer lesson, and that you try and schedule them so that they have some time after school to relax and get prepared for a tutoring lesson.
It is really easy to get carried away in a lesson. There’s been times where I’ve barraged my students with as much knowledge as I know about the topic, and they look up at me with blank stares. Make sure that your lessons are interactive, and constantly ensure that they are actually absorbing the material. This can be achieved by randomly questioning the student, or integrating a lot of practice material into your work. This is a huge component of effective learning, and you really have to make sure you include it in your lessons!
In the next article, we’ll discuss atmosphere and location, and how they are important to your lessons. Until then, try and use these ideas about learning impediments to truly ensure that your lessons are perfect!