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Tutor Tips. Designed by: Regina Crews, Secretary of Student Support Services. The Importance of Professionalism.

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Tutor Tips

Designed by: Regina Crews, Secretary of Student Support Services


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The Importance of Professionalism

  • The Student Support Services tutors can make or break this program. You, as a tutor, are the true key to our success. Your rapport with students as well as your attitude and academic abilities will determine whether or not students utilize our services. Student’s impressions and the stories they tell their friends about Student Support Services will reflect on both you and the program. Never criticize a faculty member or his/her teaching techniques. Encourage students who tend to blame their lack of success on instructors, family members, work, etc. to identify what they can change and what they cannot and to accept responsibility for their own situations.


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  • Always demonstrate professionalism in relationships with students, faculty, and staff. Be sincere, positive, and encouraging. Avoid a judgmental attitude and judgmental comments. Talk across to not down to tutees. Treat everyone with respect. Greet tutees warmly -- Even when you are feeling lousy.


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Tutor’s Duties and Responsibilities students, faculty, and staff. Be sincere, positive, and encouraging. Avoid a judgmental attitude and judgmental comments. Talk across to not down to tutees. Treat everyone with respect. Greet tutees warmly -- Even when you are feeling lousy.

  • Provide personalized academic assistance for project students.

  • Assist project students in developing effective study habits.

  • Positively affect student retention in the college.

  • Help students develop self-confidence and reduce the fear of failure

  • Help students adjust to college.

  • Whenever possible, maintain contact with tutee’s instructors to make certain students understand assignments and due dates.


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  • Coordinate efforts with program instructors to ensure that each student’s individualized plan is being followed.

  • Maintain time sheets and records of student contacts.

  • Participate in program professional development and other activities structured to improve teaching and interpersonal skills.

  • Arrive on time for scheduled sessions. Always inform the program director or secretary in advance of an absence.


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Business Procedures each student’s individualized plan is being followed.

  • As soon as you have registered for the coming semester, please submit a tutoring schedule to the Student Support Services secretary. There may be occasions when you will need to alter your schedule somewhat. If so, get together with the secretary to make the necessary adjustments.

  • Please call and let Student Support Services staff know if you will be absent for scheduled tutoring times so your tutees may be notified.

  • All tutoring sessions are scheduled by Student Support Services staff and are posted in the schedule book on the secretary’s desk. Verbally scheduled appointments must be finalized through the Student Support Services office.

  • You are responsible for checking the schedule book for appointments each day.


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  • You are to sign in when arriving for work and sign out before leaving. Round off times to the nearest 1/4 hour. The sign-in book is located on the secretary’s desk.

  • Remember to meet your students promptly in the tutoring room or alternate tutoring locations.

  • You are required to complete a contact sheet for each tutoring session. These sheets must be turned in to the secretary each Thursday.

  • Inform the secretary of any tutee absences. A tutee that has three “no shows” in a row is taken out of the book so someone else may be scheduled during that time.

  • You may occasionally tutor more than one student at a time, but it must be for the same subject.


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  • If you have been scheduled to tutor a subject that is not in your area of expertise, you should personally escort the student to a member of the Student Support Services staff who will handle the situation.

  • At the beginning of each semester you are required to attend a professional development workshop.

  • We understand that situations may arise when you need to resign from Student Support Services. Should this occur, please give us two weeks’ notice so that we can find a replacement tutor.

  • Your performance will be evaluated by the Student Support Services director each semester and discussed with you. You may review your tutee’s evaluations of your performance by contacting the Student Support Services secretary.


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Important Tutoring Skills your area of expertise, you should personally escort the student to a member of the Student Support Services staff who will handle the situation.

  • Your job as a tutor is to help the tutee with specific problems related to the subject which you are tutoring. In order to be an effective tutor, you must study the tutoring process. Following are some interesting theories related to tutoring:

  • “Studies show that, for most people, having a live tutor on just 25% of the course content is as good as having a tutor on 100% of it even if you’re having lots of trouble with the subject..” (Kesselman-Turkel and Peterson)

  • “The successful tutor is continually striving to eliminate the need for his services by helping the student become self-sufficient in his studying.” (Brown)

  • “There’s another point about tutoring that bears remembering: research shows that, in many cases, tutor’s grades go up as much as their tutees’ grades. That’s because, in trying to explain a difficult concept to someone else, you have to fix it clearly in your own mind……” (Kesselman-Turkel and Peterson)


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  • You may want to do some independent reading about tutoring skills and techniques. The Student Support Services library contains several books you might find interesting. All tutors are asked to view the program’s tutor training videotapes Introduction to Tutoring, The First Session, and Tutoring Learning Skills. Anyone tutoring English should also view Tutoring the Writing Process. These videotapes, developed at UCLA, will allow you to witness the tutoring process in action and will give you valuable information on the process that you will be able to use in your own sessions. You should also review the Becoming a Master Student textbook. This book includes a wealth of information on study skills, test-taking skills, time management strategies, and other success-related topics.


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The Initial Tutoring Session skills and techniques. The Student Support Services library contains several books you might find interesting. All tutors are asked to view the program’s tutor training videotapes

  • “First impressions are lasting impressions.” This is a trite but true expression which should be a guide to you as you embark upon your job as a tutor. Establishing a relationship of mutual rapport with the student you are tutoring is of utmost importance to your success as a tutor.

  • How can you put the tutee at ease during the first session? Be cordial. Welcome the students with a smile, handshake, etc. Display interest in the students’ problems and feelings. Students can quickly discern whether or not a tutor genuinely wants to help them succeed. Remain focused on the students. Clear all extraneous thoughts from your mind. The students should take top priority during their scheduled times. Remember that students need constant encouragement. Be human. Your selection as a tutor implies that you are very good in a particular subject, but let students know that you are not perfect. No one excels in everything.


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  • What can you do if a tutee has no questions and seems confused about where to begin? Always start somewhere. Do not allow a student to leave Student Support Services without at least determining a starting point for future discussions. Find out from the student the last section covered in class and start there. If that material seems too difficult for the student to understand, then back up to an earlier section or talk about related topics necessary as background information. Perhaps just by starting a discussion, you will trigger some specific questions from the student. Encourage students to be prepared to participate in future sessions. Ask them to come in with specific questions about specific topics or homework assignments.


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  • What should you learn about a tutee’s study habits? confused about where to begin? Talk about the amount of time your students spend studying. If the amount seems insufficient, encourage them to find more time. You can even help them set up a time monitoring system. (The textbook for Becoming a Master Student can show you how.) Find out how many hours a week that students work. For many of our students, work seems to take precedence over study time. Talk about study skills and test-taking strategies appropriate to the material being tutored. Share with your students the strategies that have worked well for you. Constantly emphasize that the tutoring sessions are a supplement to -not a substitute for individual study time. Find out if your students feel they would work well with a study group. Encourage students who seem enthusiastic about this approach to form one with other members of the class.


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Good Organizational Skills confused about where to begin?

  • Keep a calendar to record your appointments. Check it daily.

  • Be on time for your appointments. In fact, be a few minutes early. Establish yourself as a professional by being on time and ready to work when your student arrives.

  • If you cannot keep an appointment, inform your student and the Student Support Services office. You should have a phone number where you can contact your student in case an emergency prevents you from meeting him/her. Re-schedule the missed appointment through the Student Support Services office. DO NOT MAKE IT A HABIT TO BREAK APPOINTMENTS.

  • Your semester tutoring schedule should be arranged in the Student Support Services office by the end of the first week of the semester. Make sure that your personal calendar and the office calendar are the same. Make sure that any schedule changes are recorded on both calendars.


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A Feel for Ethics confused about where to begin?

  • What does the word “ethics” mean to you? You should begin to think about it a great deal because you will have to be concerned with ethics in your job as a tutor. The dictionary defines “ethics” as “a discipline dealing with good and evil and with moral duty.” The thesaurus uses these words to describe ethics: “morals, morality, rules of conduct, conscientiousness, inward monitor, still small voice, sense of duty, the proper thing……”

  • In tutoring you must use ethics to determine what you should and should not do for a student. You are supposed to HELP, not DO the work for the student. You must know where to draw the line between these two words. The success of the Student Support Services program depends upon separating doing from helping.

  • Be discrete. What takes place in the tutoring room should be between you and your student. Do not discuss your student’s strengths and weaknesses with your friends and family.


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  • Students and tutors generally get along quite well. However, personality conflicts do occasionally arise. Let the Student Support Services director know immediately if such a problem exists between you and your tutee.

  • Alice Trillin has noted: “Once tutors have started working, they are often troubled by certain ethical problems. They are frequently confronted by the question of how much help is enough and what constitutes too much, or whether students seek services that may lead tutors into unethical practices. Such questions arise when students ask for help in writing or revising a class assignment, when they drop in to have a paper ‘corrected’ by a tutor before submitting it, or when they require substantial help in completing a research project…..one good rule of thumb is that tutors keep their hands , or their pens, off the students’ papers: this creates a distinction between sensible and impermissible assistance and, in fact, confines tutors to a facilitator’s role by requiring that students implement all changes in their work….” (Trillin)


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The Ballad of the Contact Sheets However, personality conflicts do occasionally arise. Let the Student Support Services director know immediately if such a problem exists between you and your tutee.

While you were gone I could not remember

I decided to read All the students you had seen.

What you were doing The thought of lost data

For students in need Turned me red and green!

With your contact sheets So I drew a deep breath,

And a cup of hot tea Of my wits took command,

I started to scan, And wrote you this ditty

But what did I see? So you will understand.

Lots of blank spaces! These sheets are important,

Lots of blank verse! More than you might think.

Lots of blank lines! They are keys to success

But what is even worse…. In paper and ink.


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When site visitors come, But what is more important However, personality conflicts do occasionally arise. Let the Student Support Services director know immediately if such a problem exists between you and your tutee.

Like most federal folks, To folks you assist

They talk and they listen When your notes and ours

And tell a few jokes Are put on a list,

Then get down to business A profile develops

With pencils in hand That gives us a clue

‘Cause numbers are all To why students fail

That these guys understand. And what we must do.

They count all the times All of this data

We have worked with a student. Helps us to assess

Not to record contacts What the student needs most

Just is not prudent. And what he does best.


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So next time you are tempted However, personality conflicts do occasionally arise. Let the Student Support Services director know immediately if such a problem exists between you and your tutee.

To put off until later

Your session recording

Remember the gator

Who waited until daybreak

To hunt for his meals

Got caught and made into

A pair of high heels!!!!!

PLEASE ENTER YOUR CONTACTS IMMEDIATELY AFTER EACH SESSION!


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Expect from Your Tutee However, personality conflicts do occasionally arise. Let the Student Support Services director know immediately if such a problem exists between you and your tutee.

  • Do expect your tutee to be friendly.

  • Do not Expect your tutee to judge you.

  • Do expect your tutee to let you know what he/she does not understand.

  • Do not expect your tutee to know everything. Be sure that he/she understands the concept you are trying to get across.

  • Do expect your tutee to attend all scheduled sessions.

  • Do not expect your tutee to be on time and prepared if you are not. Always set a good example.

  • Do expect your tutees to be prepared for each session. Encourage him/her to study for tests, read the textbook, do the homework assignments and review for tests.

  • Do not expect your tutee to have good study skills. Explain time management and how to use study time wisely.


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  • Do expect your tutee to need help developing study skills. However, personality conflicts do occasionally arise. Let the Student Support Services director know immediately if such a problem exists between you and your tutee.

  • Do not expect your tutee to be interested in only school work. Most of the time he/she will want to talk about other things.

  • Do expect your tutee to join in program activities. Encourage his/her participation in cultural events and academic workshops.

  • Do not expect your tutee to be Superman or Superwoman.

  • Do expect your tutee to inform you of his/ her progress in class. Ask about test grades.


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Tips from Previous Student Support Services Tutors However, personality conflicts do occasionally arise. Let the Student Support Services director know immediately if such a problem exists between you and your tutee.

  • Preparation is the key to a successful session.

  • Attitude plays a large part in your success as a tutor.

  • Talk to your students.

  • Handouts, handouts, handouts. Keep a good supply of worksheets.

  • Watch your students progress

  • A high sense of ethics is essential

  • You have to be creative.

  • Stand up for Student Support Services! (Cindy Jerkins, English tutor)


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  • Ask specific questions about the tutee’s paper. This helps generate new ideas and topics to write about. A blank piece of paper is scary. Sometimes all a student needs is someone to give them a jump start.

  • Make sure tutees understand what they did wrong on previous papers. This way, they do not keep making the same mistakes.

  • Establish a comfortable relationship. Tutees need to feel that they can ask you anything.

  • Show examples of well written papers to give the student an idea of what to strive for. (Jennie Andrus -English tutor)


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  • Smile and make your tutee feel like you are just a friend studying with them.

  • Go the extra mile to help your tutee understand.

  • Do not talk to your tutee as if they have the same amount of education as you have. (Someone just getting out of high school may not have the same outlook as you did coming out.)

  • Do not get too bogged down in the subject you are tutoring. Just stick to the basics and keep it simple.

  • Take each problem slowly. Go step by step so your tutee can understand. (Jason Whittaker -math, biology, and chemistry tutor)


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  • Be prepared for each subject; if you know what is ahead then prepare for it.

  • Do not be afraid to say, “I am not sure, let me find the answer.”

  • Try to put yourself on the level of the tutee so that you are not talking down to him/her.

  • Be on time.

  • Find out what the tutee needs: confidence building, explanations, study tips, etc. (Michelle Saxon - CIS 146 tutor)


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  • Always smile (not only with your lips, but with your eyes and your voice.

  • Remain focused. Leave your personal problems outside.

  • Make use of the abundant resources of Student Support Services. These resources include: books, videos, and the staff.

  • If a student is having a problem with a class that you are unable to solve, ask for help from other Student Support Services personnel.

  • Save your notes from your classes; the can be a valuable resource in your tutoring.

  • Do not limit tutoring to the subject you are tutoring. Share your techniques for studying, writing, and learning with your tutees.

  • Praise your tutees for doing a good job. This is the most important tip of all. (Mark Kelly - biology, chemistry, economics and English tutor.)


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The most important thing a tutor needs is patience. A tutor also needs to feel empathy with his/her student and be a really caring person. I always try to help my students to develop positive self regard, good study habits, and good study skills. I have found that a great majority of the students I have worked with do not know how to study. Teach your students the study skills that work for you such as the use of 3 x 5 cards. Help them to develop skills and techniques of their own. Teach them that it is more effective to study every day for 30 minutes than to cram for four or five hours. Some students are overwhelmed by the huge amounts of material they are required to learn. Teach them to break the material into smaller, more manageable parcels.

Remember the three most important things are:

PATIENCEEMPATHYCARING

(Julia Bignoli - English, biology, psychology, and study skills tutor.)


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  • Read papers aloud to tutees. This helps tutees to recognize problems with grammar and/or clarity in their papers. (Shea Rose - English tutor)

  • Put yourself in your tutee’s place.

  • Make your tutee feel at ease. Find a common interest. Find out what the tutee’s interests are. Develop a rapport, then tutor. (Liz Crandall - math, English tutor)

  • Define the issue clearly. Make sure that you and the tutee are on the same wavelength.

  • Ask good questions.

  • Clarify. Simplify. Use knowns to explain unknowns. Tie unrelated issues together.

  • Learn the tutee’s ability in your subject area. (Everylyn White - math, CIS 146 tutor)


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  • Help your student relate a problem to everyday life. It makes a difference if you think you are handling your own money or your own business.

  • If your student gets stuck on a problem, don’t just give them the answer. Help them find the answer themselves. (Lynn Bauldree - accounting and business tutor)

  • Tell the student to review the material the night before their session. This way adequate time can be spent on the specific problems they are having in a given area.

  • Use layman’s terms to explain difficult areas of Anatomy & Physiology. (Tammi McCall - biology tutor)


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  • Understand the difference between a good tutor and an effective tutor. A good tutor will help the student get a good grade, but an effective tutor will help the tutee understand the learning process so that he/she can continue to succeed.

  • Success: tutees come to us to succeed. This should be the goal of each tutoring session. Sometimes success does not mean passing a course, but solving a single problem, understanding one rule, overcoming an obstacle to cusses or conquering some fear. (Joe O’Donnell - English and math tutor)

  • Listen to your tutees. The majority of times they will know what the problem is better than you will.

  • Never give up on a tutee. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing comprehension and gratitude light up your student’s face---and it will happen eventually.

  • Be positive and enthusiastic. (Chad Tate - English, math tutor)


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Thank you for your participation in this workshop. We hope that the information contained in it will help you be the best tutor you can possibly be. You are the backbone of our program and we appreciate the job you do and enjoy working with you. Keep up the good work! Don’t forget to complete an Academic Enrichment Summary so that we may document your participation. If you are viewing this workshop via the internet, please come by the Student Support Services Office and complete an Academic Enrichment Summary or click on the link in the directions box on the Workshops page and print one out or e-mail it to: [email protected] Handouts available upon request.

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