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47 ways to become a top Australian tutor

Izabella Bratek

Management Team

I am an enthusiastic, friendly and patient tutor with 12 years of VCE tutoring experience. I have taught a number of VCE high achievers and also helped students significantly improve their marks... Read this tutor's blog

Latest from Izabella's blog: Introduction to Factorization Video

Have you ever wondered what characteristics and values top Australian tutors have? Perhaps your reputation as a tutor could significantly improve by incorporating the following suggestions? We hope that you benefit from our list of 47 ways to be a top Australian tutor.

(1) Answer your phone!It is so frustrating for clients when they have to call you several times – they are bound to eventually give up and find another tutor.

(2) Be professional when communicating to clients. Avoid picking up the phone and say “Hello?” this does not build up rapport with the client. It is important to greet clients with “Good Afternoon John Smith speaking, how can I help you?”

(3) Always ask for the client’s name and address them personally when speaking. Be courteous!

(4) Be sure to communicate to parents over the phone – students are not always very reliable when it comes down to making appointments and tutoring arrangement.

(5) Be sure to have your available times updated and accessible. On the Academy Plus site you can use the appointment organizer feature which can show clients when you are available so scheduling session is hassle-free.

(6) Answer questions honestly and do not make empty promises. If a parent asks you about your past student’s performance be honest. Do not make unrealistic guarantees of “major improvements” because it will diminish your credibility as a tutor.

(7) Develop your creativity! Ensure that your tutoring sessions are mixed with auditory, kinaesthetic and visual activities. By doing this students are able to use all their senses to learn and develop an understanding of the topic.

(8) Be prepared for tutoring sessions! Ensure that you bring notes and other resources for your students. Most students improve in marks when they see a variety of questions from different sources.

(9) Be on TIME! This is not just for the first session, as a tutor you must aim to be punctual for every session. Students often have a hectic schedule and being late may cause problems and frustration.

(10) Avoid moving around tutoring sessions. Persistent time changes, moving sessions to different days and cancellations can cause you to lose clients as well as collect negative ratings! Show clients that you are a committed tutor and that you are devoted to your profession!

(11) Do not use your phone during tutoring lessons. Using the phone persistently can cause parents to distrust your devotion and commitment. Parents want to see the tutor paying 100% attention to their child.

(12) Dress appropriately. Try to present yourself professionally – do not wear clothes that are smelly, stained or worn out. Wearing comfortable casual clothes is fine, as long as it is still reasonably presentable.

(13) Show that you are enthusiastic. Constant yawning, looking bored or looking at the time will not build up good rapport with the student. A student may even take it personally if you seem uninterested in their work. young-man-bored-at-work

(14) Arrange a short assessment/meeting with the parents. Academy Plus recommends a free 20 minute meeting in which you will meet the student. During the meeting you should ask the parent and student what improvements they want to strive for as well as assessing what level the student is currently at.

(15) Help students to set realistic goals by getting them to write a mission statement for the subject.

(16) Build a customized syllabus for the student. If they are struggling with year 9 or 10 concepts and they are currently in year 11 – it is your responsibility as a tutor to help the student to get back on track. To increase your reputation it is advisable to make customized plans for the student you are tutoring.

(17) Make your own worksheets or use Academy Plus templates. By placing your name and contact details on the worksheets you add a more professional flare to your tutoring services.

(18) Allow the student to try questions before showing them how to do it! Many students give up too easily instead of having a solid try of completing questions. This doesn’t allow them to think critically – give them time to think about it.

(19) Never do a student’s homework. If a student is asking you to complete their homework questions they are wasting your time, their parent’s resources and their time too. A tutor is not hired to complete homework questions but to help the student complete it themselves.

(20) Be patient with your students. If they do not understand a concept you need to be willing to re-explain it without becoming frustrated. It is your job to find other ways of explaining and communicating a concept – your rapport with a student will be broken if they sense that you are frustrated and annoyed.

(21) Have a balanced tutoring session! Make sure your whole lesson isn’t just theory. The student is likely to forget theory – especially if it is not applied. Rather ensure that the student tries to work out questions themselves. A tutoring session should be dynamic and alive! Otherwise students stop paying attention or worse, fall asleep.

(22) Respect the home of students. Be sure not to park on private property or behind the garage – otherwise it is difficult for parents to drive out. Always ask if they wish you to take your shoes off as this is important for certain families.

(23) Become a specialist of your subject. Make sure you know about syllabus changes and know the material back to front. The best way to become an expert is to read a lot of books from different sources about the subject and to construct your own questions for the subject.

(24) Monitor the student’s progress. Ask parents for feedback about the student’s performance and ask them if they have any suggestions about how to improve the tutoring sessions. Do not be scared of some constructive criticism!

(25) Ensure that the environment is quiet and “tutor friendly”. It is difficult to have good quality tutoring if the animals are running around, family is talking, TV is on. Make sure that these distractions are kept to a minimum – if it is bothering you, do not hesitate to politely ask if the environment could be a little bit more quiet.

(26) Don’t socialize too much with the student during the tutoring session. Do not waste time talking about your life stories, or chatting to the student. You can do this after the session is over if you wish. During the session 100% of your focus should be on tutoring.

(27) Be efficient! If you are stuck on a question, tell the student that you will work on it from home and then email or go through the question next lesson. Don’t keep the student waiting for too long. Another idea is giving them an alternative problem while working on the challenging one yourself!

(28) Praise the student. If they do something well be sure to reward them with a compliment!

(29) Encourage the student. If they have had disappointing result give them some hope – don’t stop believing in your student’s potential!

(30) Strive to ensure that the student benefits in some way after every session.

(31) Find some useful and original ways of remembering certain words and concepts – perhaps a poem or song.

(32) Ensure that students are enjoying the sessions! If they are always bored and uninterested it is very unlikely that they are improving from the tutoring sessions. Find other creative, yet effective ways in which you can communicate the theory.

(33) Break down questions into simple steps for the student. Try to keep it at maximum of 5 steps, because this is usually easy to remember. Make the steps as clear as possible!

(34) Do not smother the student with huge complicated words or concepts. Keeping teaching clear, simple and to the point is usually more effective! Ensure that your communication is “student friendly”.

(35) Build good rapport with the student. Make sure that they are comfortable with asking you questions and sharing any concerns they may have.

(36) Ask students to re-explain or summarize what they have learned in their own words. This will ensure that the student remains alert during the session.

(37) Ask the student to ask questions. The more questions a student asks, the more critical is their thinking. This is a good way to learn material properly.

(38) Deliver your promises. If you say you will send the student notes or practice exams stay true to your word!

(39) Focus on challenging questions. After covering basics ensure that you work through challenging questions with the student.

(40) Ask the student to vocalize what their logic of thinking is so that you can understand how they tackle a question. You will also be able to identify where gaps in student’s understanding is.

(41) Ask students and parents to leave you a testimonial on Academy Plus after you have completed tutoring sessions. This way it builds up your reputation on Academy Plus and hopefully will help you become some of Australia’s top tutors.

(42) Do not tutor for too long. Usually 2 hours a week for VCE or HSC is enough per subject. Having 1 hour lessons is more efficient because students can usually remain alert for this long. Having more than 2 hours a week can cause lessons to lose efficiency due to tiredness.

(43) Don’t allow students to over-rely on their calculators but on the other hand ensure you know how to use them too! Usually students develop bad habits of over-relying on calculators. Ensure that they practice working out maths questions without constant calculator support.

(44) Give students practice papers to help them prepare for school assessments. This will allow students to practice questions related to their test or assessment. Be sure to provide answers as well!

(45) Invite students to visit Academy Plus which is an Australian company specializing in delivering educational advice for students. They may be interested in attending a Student Success Seminar throughout the year which focuses on increasing self-image, motivation and confidence, coping with stress, improving study skills and becoming a more efficient student.

(46) Hire a study room if tutoring in a library as the noise can be distracting.

(47) Adjust your communication. Your pace may be too fast or too slow for the student. Make sure you ask them if the pace is adequate.

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