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Tutoring In 2020: How To Adapt During The Pandemic

By: Christine Ascher (Student/Writer/Tutor)

When I started tutoring last fall, I was hoping to see first-hand how students best absorb information. As an aspiring professor, I wanted to learn which techniques proved most effective for ensuring improvement not only in student’s grades, but in their overall understanding of a subject. However...

the first lesson that I learned after I actually started working with students is that everyone is a bit different. To work effectively with a student, I need first to understand the strategies that work for them. While some might like to see examples for how to solve a math problem, for instance, others might need to work the problem out for themselves in order to really understand it. For a tutor, then, adaptability is key. Rather than forcing a student to learn my way, the best results will always come from adapting to the individual student’s style.

Transitioning To Online Tutoring

Adaptability became especially important, for tutors and students alike, in March when schools closed their doors amid the Covid-19 pandemic and distance-learning became the norm. My biggest concern in transitioning to #onlinetutoringsessions was that the strategies that I used in person would fail to translate to the computer screen. I like to follow along as students work through a math problem or brainstorm for an essay on paper, for example. Furthermore, with younger students in particular, it’s essential to provide interesting and interactive lessons to keep them engaged. An old-school fan of working with pen and paper myself, I’ll admit that I was a little wary of online learning. Fortunately, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how smooth the transition to online tutoring lessons has been. High schoolers can show me their #homework and assignments directly by sharing their screen, and the younger students enjoy using their devices throughout our lessons. Especially given that many of them have used iPads and educational apps in the classroom, they’re already somewhat prepared for #technologybasedlearning. Like with in person sessions, I’ve realized the importance of finding the right platform for tutoring sessions based on the student and the subject that we’re focusing on. An online whiteboard might be helpful for working through math problems, for instance, but an old-fashioned phone call to discuss a shared Google doc can be more effective for going over an English paper. Working with my students to find out their preferences has been a major help in navigating our online lessons.

Advantages To Distance Learning

After settling in to #distancelearning, I’ve realized that there are even some advantages to holding #lessonsovervideochat. Of course, it allows both students and me to stay in the comfort of our homes, and possibly in the comfort of our pajamas. It also allows for more flexibility in scheduling, given that students are home during the day. One of the biggest benefits that I’ve noticed, however, is that being at home and in a familiar environment helps students, especially those who are in elementary or middle school, feel more comfortable throughout our lessons. They tend to be more confident in asking questions and brainstorming without the distractions or intimidation that a more formal library setting can bring with it. After adjusting to online tutoring, I’m hopeful that it will continue to prove a valuable resource in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, and potentially beyond it as well.

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