Your student is about to arrive and you’ve not met the student or the parent yet. You arranged the first tutoring lesson over the telephone. In the folder in front of you is all the information you collected about the student, his or her needs, and the tutoring goals of the parent for the child. Before administering any bio tuition there are some basic things that you must get to know first.
Student Goals and Background Information
Some of the questions you asked over the telephone included: student name, student grade level, school attending, student’s academic difficulties, reason for needing tutoring, student’s attitude toward tutoring, other intervention made, any specific disabilities, results of hearing or vision tests, any birth or developmental difficulties, child’s personal interests, arranged time of first meeting, and all contact information. Having a questionnaire near the telephone has helped you remember to get all the necessary information.
Student, Parent, and Tutor Introductions
When the car pulls up in front of your tutoring studio or wherever your tutoring classroom is located, you are ready with a friendly smile. Your greet both parent and child by name and welcome them into the tutoring environment. This is the time you take coats, introduce yourself, and help them to feel comfortable. You have already made sure that distractions are minimal.
From experience, you know that the first lesson is perhaps the toughest. You are checking out the student and the student is checking you out. A calm personality and plenty of praise and encouragement has been your trademark and the reason you get referrals. Because tutoring is not like classroom teaching, you have learned to speak directly to the student in particular, while allowing the parent to observe. It is the student you focus on, because the lesson time if for the student.
The temptation to talk over the student or about the student to the parent is one you can’t afford, because you want to establish that necessary rapport with the student. After the lesson or by follow-up phone call, you make time to discuss your concerns with the parent and their concerns with you.
Brief Student Assessment
During that first lesson, you give a brief assessment that gives you a benchmark both to identify areas of concern and to gauge learning. You get a sample of the student’s writing, reading, and math abilities, and you pay special attention to the way in which the student prints the alphabet. You have learned that all sorts of red-flags may be visible from this one act. Often, you see sequential issues, directional issues, and letters that have not been stabilized.
Your choice of what to cover in the first lesson is based on the students age and ability level and on some of the areas of concern identified in the assessment. One of the first things you usually cover with a new student, regardless of age is letter stabilization, because you’ve learned that many reading difficulties come right out of difficulty with the directionality of letters.
You have learned to explain this to the student–so the student is not insulted by such elementary work. You’ve also discovered the best way to justify your filling-in-the-gaps to the student, who may question why he or she has to go over stuff learned in previous school years.
Praise and Takeaways
All throughout that first lesson, and especially at the close of the lesson, you praise and encourage progress, and you make it a point to highlight what’s coming up the next week. Little things to take home, things from your lesson, little reminders, they all help solidify the lesson material and they help motivate the student to want to come for more help from the tutor.