As tutors, we’ve all been there. The student who has absolutely no interest in what you are teaching them. They don’t do their home work, they are unorganised and they dread your sessions together. Here are some ideas to help tutors engage these students. Your students may even begin enjoying your sessions together!
Get to know your students
Too many teachers and tutors are all about the content and teaching students on an academic level only. But in my opinion, relationships are the number one most important thing for you and your students. If your students likes you and feels a positive connection with you, they will be more open and motivated to learn. If you know your student, you can begin tailoring the lessons towards their interests and learning styles.
It is important to begin establishing your positive working relationship early in the piece. I’m not saying that you should spend the first few sessions just chatting and getting to know each other. It should be a consistent effort, along with the academic components. Ask students questions like the following:
Send reminder messages
If there’s one thing that annoys me most, it is a student who is unorganised. They forget their books, worksheets, protractor, calculator and even pens Every. Single. Time. It leaves tutors wondering what students have learnt, what is on the test and how am I supposed to teach the required content consistently and effectively?!
I tutor mainly on Sundays. So on Fridays, the reminders go out to the students (or the parents of the students) who always forget their resources. These resources make a huge difference to the effectiveness of our sessions.
Communicate with parents
It’s all well and good to set homework for a student and expect it to be done by the following session. But in reality, it is unlikely to be attempted by disengaged students. For my unmotivated students, I always tell the parents that I have set homework and a list of the activities requiring completion. I’ll be honest, sometimes it still doesn’t get done!
The next step depends on the individual tutor. I have put my foot down before and given a student an ultimatum. He had huge potential working his way into year 12 and I had been tutoring him for two years already. He had fallen into the habit of not completing the homework I set for him. After a few weeks of trying various strategies to get him onto his homework, I told him that I couldn’t be his tutor anymore. Wow, what a change!! His habits changed instantly, and he would not miss a single question.
These are just a few ideas to increase motivation for your disengaged students. Increasing engagement will increase both yours and your students enjoyment, as well as making the parents lives easier.
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