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Tutor Guide

Below is the 12 step Tutor Guide. Click on each step to view more information.

1. Simple Hello

The purpose of Step I is to set up the session for success. We are all familiar with "hello" and in the tutoring session you want to make your student/tutee comfortable. A warm smile and eye contact can get your session going in the right direction.

Some helpful tips: Let your tutee do their work. Have them do the writing, have them do the page turning, and any tools needed like pencil, calculator, pens should be in their hands. Your goal is to help the tutee become independent.

2. Establish the task

The next step is to figure out the purpose of the tutoring session. Documenting the material covered should occur at each session, but this can be completed at the end of your session.

Provide opportunity - give your tutee the opportunity to state what needs to be worked on and begin. If they are hesitant, you can start by saying "How is Microbiology class going?" Follow up-your follow up questions allows your students to voice any concerns they may have and it also reinforces the fact that your student does know something and it is on their knowledge that you intend to build. Building on the students' knowledge is a healthier approach to learning because it respects and acknowledges what the student/tutee has learned.
The Master Tutor, p.27

Restatements - In this area you are developing focusing. For example if the tutee comes in and says "I need help with my writing" then repeat the sentence," you need help with your writing". Pause and have the student be more specific. They will probably define the statement by saying "yeah, the teacher said to write an essay about transitions…". Now you're on the way, the session is developing a focus and the student is doing the focusing. Empathetic statements-In addition to restatements, another strategy is to offer an empathetic statement. "Writing a paper can be really frustrating." Before going on to the next step, you need to be sure that you understand what the tutee needs help with. It may take more time at the beginning of a session, but it will definitely save time later in the session.

3. Break it down

Break it down - Most tutoring subjects have a sequence of parts that need to be worked out. In breaking the task into parts you will also need to determine how much time to spend on various areas.

Providing opportunity - Give your tutee the opportunity to help sort and organize not only the subject matter but also the duration of the task at hand.

4. Initiate thought process

Initiate thought Process which Underlie the Task - This is one of the most critical steps in tutoring. (#4 and #8 steps are usually the least practiced.) Step 4 - Identifying the thought process means that you help the tutee learn how to approach the task with which he/she is having problems. For example, if your tutee is asking about a math problem, you need to talk about the approach that is needed for this math problem. Work through the problem, explain each step and show what is needed.

Promoting Independence - Encourage your tutee to develop a learning strategy. These can be used for other problems of this type and will lead to refinement, independence and success as he/she develops and uses these tools for learning when studying alone.
Information sources - The textbook, handouts, notes and workbooks are all sources of information. You are not the sole source of information and should try to utilize the course materials. Sometimes tutors feel like they have to supply all the information, and with the best intentions will explain the course material to their student. Ironically, you are preventing the student from being able to do the processing themselves. (The Master Tutor, p.30) Remember, you are trying to promote independence.
Utilize the text - Take a look at the materials that the students have available to them. How is the information organized? What steps are needed to understand and apply this information? You will need to teach your student how to learn material from the text. Otherwise, they will always need someone to explain it to them. If the student is able to learn from the text and can figure out how to apply it, they have a skill useful to them for a lifetime.

5. Set a goal

The efficient accomplishment of any task involves first knowing what the task is and secondly, allocating available time to the task. An agenda is a plan allocating time to a task. It is like budgeted time. How much time do we have and how shall we spend it? In any given tutoring session, how much time do you have and how will you spend it?
-Some great, effective tutors have asked their tutees, "We have an hour how should we use it?" Giving the tutee an opportunity to help set the agenda will increase the likelihood that they will actively participate in making the agenda work.

Flexibility - Once an agenda is set, you should plan to stick to it. If it is too vague or easily ignored, then you are showing the tutees that the agenda is something you set and ignore. Of course, if the plan is not working or the time allocation is off, then readjust. Just as you planned it together, have your tutee help decide what to work on and how much time is needed.

6. Begin working

Once you have established the tone for the session, identified the task, identified the underlying thought process for the task and set the agenda, then you are ready to conduct the business of tutoring.

7. Have tutee summarize content

Begin working - Once you have established the tone for the session, identified the task, identified the underlying thought process for the task and set the agenda, then you are ready to conduct the business of tutoring.

8. Ask questions

This is the companion step to #4. You may recall that in Step 4, your objective was to identify the thinking processes. In Step 8, you are encouraging the tutee to explain how the answer was found. Some helpful questions to ask are "If a friend asked you how to do these problems. What would you say?" or, "Suppose you encountered a similar problem on the test. How will you solve it?"

Providing Opportunity - Your objective is to cause the student to explain the thought process, knowing that such an explanation helps move the understanding from short term to long-term memory. Also, you will be able to check for understanding.

9. Reassure tutee

Once your tutee has explained the content and the process, it is almost universal that the tutor will offer some kind of congratulatory statement. "Good job", "That sounds right to me" or some other type of statement lets the student know that he/she has learned accurately and appropriately.

Taking it one step further- your comment of "Good job" can be taken further with a more specific statement such as "You did a wonderful job of factoring …", or "You did a good job explaining the difference between a metaphor and simile." These comments reinforce specific behaviors and helps the student know what they should keep doing.

Similar, any negative evaluations should be directed to the tutee's work or to the two of you such as "We've really got away from our plan today…"

10. Determine steps involved

Having confirmed your tutee's understanding, you can help anticipate what will be done next. This not only helps him/her plan what could be done next, it reinforces connections between what is learned in tutoring and what he/she will be learning next. Helping to anticipate what's next helps him/her see that the knowledge from class, tutoring and studying are all connected. This helps apply and build what is learned in tutoring.

11. Plan next session

Arranging and planning the next session will allow for both the tutor and tutee to anticipate the upcoming tasks and also promotes consistency in tutoring.

12. Close and good-bye

This is the last step, and as important as the greeting, so is the closing with some type of good-bye. You can always thank your tutee for being so prepared etc. The object of course is to leave on a positive note. This completes the 12 steps in the Tutoring Cycle.

The Master Tutor, ,p.40.
For more information on any of the Steps of the Tutor Cycle, please consult The Master Tutor, pp.25-40, 2000 edition.