If you have stumbled upon this post, you are currently searching either with an interest to become a tutor and want more information or as a parent looking to supplement your child’s studies or to help improve your child’s lack of understanding in certain (or all) subject areas due to fast pace curriculums in a traditional school system. No matter your reasoning, continue to read on for details on what is tutoring, who can be a tutor, who can be tutored and additional roles of a tutor.
But what exactly is tutoring?
Tutoring is the act of teaching or instructing on either a one-to-one or small group basis by a tutor. A tutor, then, is a person who is able to teach one or several subject areas and most times they are employed as private instructors.
The word tutor can also act as a verb in which one is guarding/protecting an individual. Place those two definitions together, then you see that a tutor instructs one or several subject areas in a private capacity or small group setting and has the responsibility of guarding/protecting their pupil. This makes sense as a tutor eventually spends time developing a one-to-one relationship, most times, with their pupil, thus ultimately allowing them to form bonds in which their tutee would look to their tutor as their mentors.
The purpose of a tutor is to ensure that their pupil becomes self-sufficient, i.e. they are able to learn, understand and come up with solutions to complicated concepts on their own. Interestingly enough, this sounds counterintuitive to the job of tutoring because the tutor depends on the tutee for business. However, the best tutors are ones who are able to foster critical thinking and guide understanding at the very foundational level so that when complex questions are thrown at the student, they are able to respond thoughtfully using their developed critical thinking skills.
This is important, especially in the Bahamas, because there are many times when a child may lack understanding at the foundational level of their earlier years and the problem is never solved. This leads to the child continuing to struggle as they are forced to advance into higher grade levels in a traditional school setting.
Sadly, many of these students ‘slip through the cracks’ of the educational system because of large class sizes (currently in the Bahamas, the average class size is around 30), stricter and more fast pace curriculums that are made to accommodate most of the world’s educational standards, pressures on teachers to perform well the majority of the time, etc. Therefore, a tutor would then be responsible for rectifying this situation by adjusting their lessons to accommodate the tutee’s needs and pace, resolidify their knowledge at the foundation of that subject, and help them to answer questions using critical thinking.
Who can be a tutor?
Usually, you may see certified teachers engaging in private tutoring but essentially, anyone can be a tutor as long as they have a strong understanding of a particular subject area. A blog post on Chapman University’s website further states that a tutor has to be trained on effective tutoring practices. While on the other hand, Itcconline.net states that having great knowledge in a particular subject isn’t as important as understanding exactly how one should learn. Thus, a great tutor is one who infuses empathy with their knowledge and makes learning interactive, meaningful and fun.
To give you an example, what I love to do with my students is to ensure that they have a real-life application to whatever it is that they’re studying. Let’s use a science such as biology, for example. Many students tend to detest subjects like biology because there are many terms that fly over their heads so they resort to memorizing, rather than understanding and relating that term to their actual bodies. So to help facilitate that connection between the textbook and their physical bodies (and because I am not legally able to cut anyone open), I explain using detailed youtube videos, anatomical models (if available), or cross-sectional images of that particular topic. Usually, once they have a visual representation, they are able to superimpose those images to their bodies and they start to understand that the information in the textbook is not so far removed as they thought.
Roles of a tutor
According to an article on Chandler-Gilbert Community College, tutoring is the “process of comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.” So even though a tutor may be responsible for reviewing class material and helping with homework assignments, they are NOT responsible for providing answers/solutions for their students because their main purpose is to help them understand the question and find the answers themselves. They are also responsible for fostering their tutee’s confidence
Sometimes a tutor can act as an uncertified counselor to a student because there may be times when a student is facing a challenging situation at home or school and their tutor can be their confidant.
Who can be tutored?
Anyone, at almost any age, can be tutored. This includes students from PreK to University level or even those who just want to continue their education on a subject that they have always been interested in, such as music. In fact, I have students of various ages ranging from 3 years old to 50+, which had taught me that you’re never too old or too young to learn a particular subject, it’s just how you relate that subject to the student. Of course, a student at 3 years old would require a different method and pace of instruction than a 50-year-old on the same topic.
Stay tuned to my blog for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of tutoring, the differences between tutoring and teaching, how to find a good tutor, effective tutoring practices, and much more!