Five Top Tips for Successful Tutoring

Are you an A-grade Tutor, or worried about falling to the bottom of the class?

I’ve recently had a number of enquiries from would-be tutors wondering what’s most important when setting up as a tutor. After a bit of thought, I’ve created a quick checklist which I thought I’d share: our five top tips for successful tutoring.

1. Establish your credibility.

Tutoring is an unregulated market in the UK, so you’ll need to establish yourself as a competent and reliable professional.

First, you should consider getting references from trusted individuals – perhaps an employer or university tutor. An up-to-date CV and any testimonials from previous students or parents will also help.

In addition, make sure you understand fully the issues surrounding child protection. If parents ask you, ‘Do you have a CRB certificate?’ and you don’t have one, make sure you have a ready answer. If the term CRB mystifies you, then read up on it in our e-book!

2. Get clear on exams.

If you’re tutoring an examination subject, obtain up-to-date information from the exam board as early as possible. While textbooks can be motivating and helpful in many ways, they are often surprisingly weak at explaining the exam itself.

Get in touch with the exam board and you’ll obtain all sorts of essential information, including specifications, syllabuses, notes for teachers, past question papers, mark schemes and reports on the examinations. Much of this information is available for free download from their websites.

3. Consider using a learning agreement.

Tutors differ in their opinion on whether it’s necessary to have a written agreement between the tutor and parent/ student. We would argue that a written agreement raises expectations all round, and demonstrates that you’re a professional. Even if you don’t use a written agreement, you should get very clear on your payment and cancellation terms – unless you want to be taken for a ride.

We provide more information on learning agreements (including a sample you could use) in our e-book.

4. Promote yourself.

There are various aspects to the promotion of your tutoring services. First of all, are you going to join an agency or use an advertising platform such as Agencies can be a great way to gain credibility as a tutor, but they’ll also charge a commission for each hour that you teach.

Writing an article or two on your subject is also a good way to promote yourself, since it demonstrates that you’re an expert in your field. lets you submit up to 4 articles on your expertise.

Finally, consider how you’re going to handle the initial contact with a student or parent. Given the choice between email or phone, always try to make a phone call. There are various reasons for this, not least that it shows you’re a real person to be trusted, not someone hiding behind technology.

5. Understand effective teaching.

How many tutors actually stop to consider whether they’re teaching effectively? In our e-book, we use the latest research to help you understand how to be the very best.

Since we can’t go into the details here, here’s a list of effective teacher characteristics adapted from Munn et al (1990). See whether you agree!

humorous, relaxed, imaginative, warm, firm, listens, fair, friendly, enthusiastic, organized, supportive, cheerful, flexible, encourages, sympathetic, responsive, enjoys the subject, makes work relevant, helps pupils learn, uses various methods, has high expectations, explains clearly, gives praise, applies sanctions fairly

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