Tutors shouldn't actually be running tutoringg sessions

Or at least, not if the student is in VCE.

Does that sound absurd?

Most people are really surprised when I say this. They say things like “but nothing will get done” and “I need someone who can provide some structure.” But that’s the beautiful part about tutoring; it’s all about focusing on the student.

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Students should be the ones to drive the tutoring session.

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Tutors aren’t meant to have the curriculum memorisedTutors can't memorise everything

Now that might seem counterintuitive. But it’s true. Tutors have a pretty decent idea of what students need to know at certain levels, but they aren’t capable of rattling off the contents page of a textbook. They aren’t expected to be all knowing.

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Tutors are available as a support, not a replacement for a teacher.

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They’re there as a resource. Tutors are a fountain of knowledge and experience, but asking them to simply teach an entire chapter (or the entire course) is not what the tutoring experience is about.

I never make a lesson plan – and my students love it

I never know what I’m going to work on until I arrive at my student’s house and show me what they’ve been working on. Admittedly I work mainly with VCE students. But this gives every student the chance to drive the tutoring session towards where they want to be.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still teach. But I teach what they ask me to teach, not what I decide to teach.

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This gives students the independence (and a good reason) to think about what they need the most work on. I can advise and encourage on particular aspects, but ultimately I let the student decide what would be best for them.

By not making a plan, I help students with more than just homework or study

This is the best chance for students to start practising other skills that are highly valued outside of school. Skills like decision making, analysing, and the ability to prioritise and schedule themselves.

Not to mention that this process requires students to take the time to actually think about what they need to work on. By giving students that little bit more independence, they have no choice but to decide themselves rather than rely on someone telling them what they should be working on.

It’s not easier, but it definitely works better

The easiest solution is to simply have your tutor give away all the answers.

The less easy solution is to have your tutor teach and direct your student towards where they need to be.

But the best solution is to let your tutor do nothing more than to help your student to find their own way. The occasional prod in the right direction is usually all students need to find their way.