Empowering Your Tutees Learning Back

Encouraging tutees to contribute

Many people can be nervous when learning in a one-on-one environment for the first time. It is critical to be patient with them, and build their confidence through encouragement and praise. Your ultimate goal is to help the tutee become comfortable and confident in the subject, even if they occasionally make mistakes.

Potential tutee anxieties

1. Your tutee may struggle to express what exactly they are looking to gain from lessons, and may doubt their ability to achieve their goals. It is essential to agree on realistic targets based on what they are ultimately hoping to achieve. If a tutee finds it difficult to articulate what they are aiming towards, avoid the kind of 'why' questions that can make someone feel on the spot.

2. Your tutee may feel obliged to defer to you. Your tutee may be a little intimidated: you should try to encourage them to express their opinions to build confidence. One-to-one sessions, whilst very useful because of their intensity may also be a little overwhelming to someone who is not used to being in the spotlight.

3. Your tutee may be confused as to how to work together with a tutor in a lesson, having never had a one-to-one before. Whilst some people may quickly take the lead and specify what they want from lessons, others will be unsure and will look to you to establish a power dynamic. Here, informal feedback is essential so you are aware if the tutee feels they are not getting what they need.
Tutees are more likely to engage when:

1. They feel comfortable around you

2. You show them respect and support, especially when they make mistakes

3. Learning is seen as a co-operative exercise, not a confrontational one

4. You both agree upon realistic and achievable tasks

5. They are encouraged to contribute, not just to be lectured to

6. Feedback is frequent so communication breakdowns do not occur


Directing discussions

Think about:

1. Regularly giving supportive, constructive feedback

2. Encouraging broader or deeper focus

3. Correcting misunderstanding in a non-confrontational way


Feedback on tutees' skills/abilities

1. Link feedback to specifc positives/mistakes

2. Comment on use of particular skills

3. Be encouraging and friendly!

Balancing tutor/tutee contributions

1. Review how often you intervene

2. Balance feedback with space

3. Encourage quiet tutees, but don't overpower them

Closing lessons

To determine how your tutee feels the lessons are progressing, ask open ended questions such as these:

1. What has been the most significant thing you've learned today?

2. Do you have any questions after today's lesson?

If you have any homework for the tutee, spend time discussing how they should tackle it. Remember: the tutee may not have time to do extensive exercises, or indeed may not have the inclination to do so! Homework load must ultimately be decided on their terms.