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First Lesson Advice

Teaching Advice

A very common question asked by prospective tutors is whether we ask tutors to teach in any particular way; do we have a teaching philosophy? The simple answer is no, we don't. Although this does not mean that we haven't thought long and hard about the best way to teach.

Everyone you ever teach will be different. This difference may be subtle or it may not, but we think that it's important to realise that the best way to teach a particular person may not be the best way to teach someone else. The beauty of one-to-one tuition is that you can tailor your lessons perfectly to the tutee. In any case, tutees often approach us precisely because they want something beyond that which they receive at school. They want a tutor who will connect with them as an individual, and who can constantly redesign and reinvent their teaching depending on the person who is being taught.

Similarly, tutors should find ways of teaching that suit themselves. Being a great teacher is not about imitating teachers who you feel are great, but it is about finding the style that allows you to teach as effectively as those great teachers.

We also strongly recommend that all tutors read Tutoring Standards' pedagogy before they begin tutoring.

Lesson Preparation

It will always improve your lessons if you take some time to prepare them beforehand.

We do not recommend that you make any rigid lesson plans. Lesson plans are very useful, if not necessary when teaching a large class. This is because there is a certain amount of material to be covered and a teacher must allocate his or her time accordingly. With one-to-one tuition you may find that a tutee either understands everything in your lesson plan far better than you had expected, or doesn't have the basic understanding required to follow your lesson plan. In these cases, unless your plan is flexible, it will be useless.

Tutors often say that they have an underlying strategy when tutoring a tutee, based on the particular area that the tutee struggles with. Examples of these strategies are: improving essay technique, increasing clarity of thought and argument, improving algebraic manipulation, and increasing confidence. A lot of tuition is spent improving a student's understanding with more specific parts of their course, but if you have identified a general area where a tutee can improve, like those listed above, it is a good idea to have a lesson prepared that will work on this area if there is nothing more specific to be covered.

Most importantly, we encourage you to reflect on your tuition outside of your lessons. Something may occur to you that will dramatically improve a student's learning, and a good plan in your head, is better than a poor plan on paper.

The First Lesson

Before your first lesson we recommend that you obtain the syllabus that a tutee is studying. If you're unable to find it then please tell us.

A tutee may want immediate help with very specific problems in their first lesson, especially if their exams are close. Certainly for any tuition at A-level or below we would expect you to be able to help any tutee with the majority of their syllabus in this first lesson.

Having said this, our recommendation for your first lesson with a tutee is to spend the first few minutes getting to know each other and to discuss both your and their expectations of tuition.

  1. "We are again delighted with Hannah's work and she is reliable, always punctual and is helping my son prepare for his GCSE mocks very effectively."
  2. Ms H, London