Interactive Online Tutoring Services

June 9, 2008

Motivation and Learning

Filed under: general tutoring articles,Tutoring — Rob @ 7:42 pm

Motivation and Learning

How Do I Motivate Students?

As a teacher, it is essential that you keep your students motivated. Tutors have also been through the educational system as pupils and know the importance of an enjoyable and rewarding educational experience. You may have known this all your life, or it may have become clearer later, when you started tutoring. Regardless of your own experience, motivating your students will always be one of your most important targets.

All students show improved motivation when they understand the reason why they are doing something, especially if they can see a direct positive outcome from studying. It is sometimes important for students to see the bigger picture. If a student must study a topic which he/she finds difficult, for instance to achieve a career aspiration, it can be a good idea to highlight the direct applications and pragmatic uses of this subject in a future professional context. Not everyone likes to study for the sake of studying; often, allowing students to see direct benefits motivates them to study. This provides a positive feed back and sets a goal; the more they understand, the more they can see the benefits, the more they want to learn.

It might not be so straight forward with younger students, as they may not have a specific idea of what they want to do later on in life. This being said, personalities form themselves very early on, and it can be a good idea to show the benefits of studying certain subjects. Let them know early, no matter what job they aspire to do, almost all jobs will make you sit some sort of entrance exams, usually covering some basic mathematics and English skills. Many subjects overlap, doctors need to be good with sciences, scientists need a good foundation in Maths, Biologist need a good understanding of statistics, a professional translator really requires more than just two languages, Computer related jobs often requires good mathematics and logic skills). For younger students, immediate benefits, and short term goals provide a much better motivation mechanism. Fun, games, and laughter often work as good tools for teaching children; however they are never wasted on adults!

Motivation and Relevance

Studying has to be relevant to be motivating; creating this relevant link is part of the tutor’s job. Think of a student finding maths de-motivating because it’s “too hard” or “it’s useless in real life”. Yet at lunch time, he likes to go to the gambling shop and places a few bets. He works out the odds in just a few seconds, yet when it comes to doing percentages and fraction in lessons, he fails miserably. The problem is not that this student finds maths “too hard”, but rather that he cannot see the relevance and thus finds it boring. A bored mind is easily distracted, and a distracted mind finds everything hard: have you ever tried to read a book and watch the TV at the same time? It’s not easy, and the activity that requires the least effort but most fun is usually easier to focus on and understand. So try and adapt your lessons to be as relevant as possible to each pupil. Make your tuition easy to understand, and make it enjoyable.

Motivation and Terminology

Many academic subjects use a terminology: although there’s often no need to use complex words to understand these subjects, specific keywords are usually required by examiners. Academics within their own field often like to make things seem more complicated than they actually are, although this is not always compatible with good teaching practice. Try not to confuse new pupils straight away by throwing in too many complicated words; you are there to pass on your knowledge, not to show it off, however tempting it can be to “sound competent”. As the subject becomes more familiar, you can then link the concepts to the terminology required by the examiners. Later, show that the use of these keywords is important when answering exam papers, and indicates through example what the examiners are expecting.

– Understanding 1st makes it easy to learn,

– Making it easy to learn makes it enjoyable,

– Enjoyable lessons are motivational

– Motivational lessons make the pupils want to learn further

Avoid De-Motivation

There is nothing more de-motivating than consistently being incorrect and failing at a subject. Avoid anything that can negatively affect the learning process. If your student is giving incorrect answers, it is best to avoid asking them similar questions or insisting heavily on a topic which they are likely to get wrong. You can make the questions slightly easier and lead them in the right direction by giving them clues. It is also a good indication on what topics need more work. These measures will have a more positive effect on your students that anything that will highlight their failure.


Single Parent Homeschooling

Filed under: general tutoring articles,Tutoring — Rob @ 6:46 pm

One of the more overwhelming challenges is that faced by a parent that wishes to take on practical home schooling, but doesn’t have a partner. For many in this situation, the requirement to earn adequate income to support both child and parent is vital.

But many single parents that are determined are able to find ways each year to home educate their children. The final results are typically worthwhile. A home tutored child will typically surpass their equals on similar tests and have a high rating on college admissions listings.

The initial issue is often related to time management. A well prepared parent soon discovers that they have more available time for practical home schooling than they might expect. That is typically true if you account for the actual tuition hours offered in a public school. In a school day, there’s a break between classes, lunch breaks, and a good deal of sitting about not doing much. By being certain that each hour counts at home can easily compensate.

A child can be left completely free to act on any topic that interests them, and at their individual pace. Or, they might be offered with guidance and resources to execute a great deal of individual study. The answers can be reviewed later on in the day and alterations made, if required.

Tutoring in a variety of styles is one more choice for a single parent that wishes to home school. Tutors can range from an in-house instructor to an online resource that’s entirely automated. The costs are likely to vary greatly, but a lot of tutors tend to cost less than full time day care. In some cases, a tutoring role can be combined with day care service.

Some single parents will opt to begin a home based business. Once you add up the expense of gasoline for the vehicle, full time day care, and the time spent on travelling back and forth, a home based business can often appear more cost effective. This does not even take into account the potential tax savings from additional write-offs.

With a small amount of creative thinking and fair measure of research, a single parent can discover the resources and time for practical home schooling their child. Both child and parent are likely to benefit significantly if they do.


May 11, 2008

What makes a great Tutor?

Filed under: general tutoring articles,Tutoring — Rob @ 7:16 pm

Great tutors are made, not born. We can all recall a time when we stepped into a classroom and sighed in despair at the sight of a miserable teacher.  We can also recall the times we have been so excited about learning that we were bursting with enthusiasm and energy.  Whether it was the school play, the science fair, the contest for the best art project or the school’s literary magazine, we wanted to participate.  For many students, the first day of school is filled with anxious trepidation as they wait to see who their teachers will be for seven hours a day.  Will they get stuck with the noxious math maven, or will they get lucky and score the cool calculus contest-fixated instructor who continuously demonstrates that math is fascinating?

Online tutoring doesn’t have to be such a gamble!  An online teacher can make math, as well as many other subjects, fascinating, and students don’t even have to leave their laptop to experience a great lesson.

So how do you know when a private tutor is great?  Four critical components make for a great online tutor and an even better online tutoring experience for students.

First, great online tutors are content experts.  Whether calculus, algebra, biology or English is their area of specialty, they know it inside and out!

But being a subject matter expert doesn’t mean you know how to teach.  The second critical component that makes for great online tutors is their understanding of pedagogy.  Pedagogy is the science of teaching and learning.  It’s a fancy way of asking, “So, your Ph.D. is in chemistry, but do you know how a 10th grade brain learns?”  A great online tutor has been taught effective brain-compatible instructional techniques.  Great online tutors understand adult learning styles, and they know about such models as Multiple Intelligences and Dimensions of Learning.  Great online tutors also ask higher level thinking questions that effectively teach problem solving skills.  Effective instructional techniques can also include a well defined agenda, objectives and rules of engagement for each online learning session.

The third critical component that makes for great online tutors is the social element of teaching.  Learning isn’t always easy, and it’s important that every online tutor is trained in human development and the social aspects of learning.  Positive, constructive feedback and appropriate praise are vital to the learning process.  The right amount of challenge combined with encouragement can turn a boring online tutoring lesson into an exciting and fun learning experience.

The fourth critical component that makes for great online tutors is their technical role.  Whether guiding a student through quadratic equations or introducing a student to the basics of fractions, every online tutoring session should seamlessly utilize the online technology available today.  This may include whiteboard technology, chat capabilities, voice-over IP, and more.  There are multiple ways of communicating via the internet that enhance the online learning experience. Using online tutoring should be an easy and convenient way to get the tutoring you need, without feeling like a technological nightmare.

The next time you’re soliciting online tutoring services to make sure you get the benefits of tutoring you need, ask these questions:

1.  What is my online tutor’s subject matter expertise?

2.  Has my online tutor been trained or certified in effective instructional techniques?

3.  Does my online tutor utilize today’s most advanced technology to enhance my learning experience?

January 7, 2008

Struggling with Math?

Filed under: general tutoring articles,Tutoring — Rob @ 6:26 pm

Are you going to struggle with Math this year?

August 25, 2006

As the new school year is approaching, one thing is certain: Many students will struggle with their courses this year. As always, one of the most prominent areas of difficulty will be Mathematics.

It is not very difficult to understand why math is considered by most Canadian high-school and college students to be such a difficult subject. Math is a discipline that requires a basic foundation and a natural transition from core knowledge to more advanced concepts. However, the reality of North American education is that the transition rarely takes place naturally.

It is often the case that throughout elementary school and early High school, math is taught in a very disorganized fashion. While arithmetic gets more than its fair share of attention, intermediate core concepts are often glossed over by everyone except the very astute students. Only the dedicated students fill in the big education gaps in their spare time. What happens to the less dedicated students?

For other students, the true math difficulties begin in grades 11 and 12. At those levels, math transforms into a serious subject and cracks in the knowledge foundation begin to emerge. Those concepts that are natural extensions of what is considered to be basic mathematical abilities become difficult to grasp for many students.

As a result, many struggling students turn to a private math tutor for additional help, but this is often not a sure-fire path to better understanding. Most tutors have the ability to help students with their immediate areas of difficulty. However, only the more experienced tutors are able to detect true deficiencies in the students’ knowledge and fill in the gaps before concentrating on more complicated topics.

For those looking for a math tutor, it is very important to consider the tutor’s knowledge, experience, and approach, and not just the hourly rate. With math tutoring, like with anything else, you will often get exactly what you pay for.

In order to get the most out of tutoring, it is vitally important to establish specific short and long-term learning objectives early on. A good tutor will be able to use this information effectively in creating a structured learning progression, rather than concentrating on the irrelevant concepts.

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