To be an effective tutor, it is important for the tutor to be empathetic. This means that the tutor should understand what it is like for the student who may not have the ability, comprehension of the study material. Also, the tutor should understand students who feel stressed, worried and lack self confidence in the school materials.
A good tutor should also admit when he does not know how to solve a question. It is better for him to research more on the concepts and come back at a later stage to clarify for the student. It is counterproductive to try to lie their way through, harm the student and his own reputation in the short run. A tutor also needs to be enthusiastic in what they are teaching. If they are not keen on the subject, how could they expect students to immerse themselves in studying as well. After all, not all students enjoy what they are studying. Therefore, it is important for tutors to be enthusiastic and motivated so that they can inspire and motivate students.
To better understand the students’ difficulties, troubles, misconceptions and errors, it is better for the tutor to have excellent listening skills as well as good compassion. This allows them to better appreciate and understand their students’ misconceptions and conceptual misunderstandings. Also, a good tutor should also encourage critical thinking by asking good open-ended questions that students understand.
It is a good idea for tutors to encourage independent thinking and not rely on them all the time. It is important for students to know they also have a role and part to play in order to benefit fully from tutoring. Provide strategies so that they can learn to think independently and be more effective learners. Evaluating how they think, learn, study and how they manage their studies will be helpful to develop study strategies for them. Have them try out different studying and learning strategies so that they can explore the best option for themselves. Sometimes what works for a student may not work for another. Therefore, it is reasonable for students to try out different modes of learning.
A tutor needs to encourage and motivate students to strive as much and as far as they can, in order to reach their goals and to emphasise on teaching how they can learn so that they can grow up to become independent learners in future.
Patience is key. This is a key characteristic for a tutor. It is important not to feel disturbed or annoyed when a student does not know the content well. Even if the question is going to be basic, a good tutor needs to exercise patience with the student.
In addition, it is key to maintain confidentiality and ensure that medical conditions or mental health conditions shared with the tutor should be kept private at all times. Show respect for students. Treat them as persons and try to emphasise with them on their pains and struggles.
Ingel Soong is a supertutor for JC H2 Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics (IP, O Level and IB available). He also teaches polytechnic students over a range of modules, such as statistics, programming, finance, marketing, engineering and more.