Interactive Online Tutoring Services

May 11, 2008

What makes a great Tutor?

Filed under: Tutoring,tutoring articles — 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?

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