Ask A Tutor – 2/1/2016
Question: “There have been a lot of good suggestions about keeping your student motivated, but sometimes I find myself unmotivated and not seeing a difference in my student.”
We’ve all been there. It can be difficult to sustain motivation when you feel like you’re not seeing changes in your student, but rest assured, your consistent presence is making an impact. Mentoring and tutoring go hand in hand, so taking an interest in your student and modeling good educational practices are invaluable lessons. Teaching your student basic skills for school survival (organization, note-taking techniques, planning ahead, the importance of being on time) will aid them in their academics long after your sessions have ended.
However, if you are concerned that your student is not progressing academically, you can think about how you’re structuring your sessions. Are you only working on homework or have you done an assessment with your student to discover the ‘gaps’ in their education? While it is sometimes more convenient to rely on homework as a session activity, sometimes the work is beyond the student’s level, and the student would benefit more from reviewing material he/she has missed along the way.
Once you’ve done an assessment and have some idea of the main topics your student needs help with, you can set goals with your student. This will motivate both of you. If you’re working on random assignments from week to week, on many different subjects, it can be difficult to track changes, but if you plan strategically, you will begin to see progress. Set short and long-term goals. A short term goal might be to have your student compose a complex sentence. A long-term goal would be to have your student construct a unified paragraph.
Last, don’t forget to make your sessions fun! End every session with a short, 5 or 10 minute game as a reward for the hard work you and your student have done. Taking some time to bond with your student will make sessions more worthwhile for both of you.
Amanda Carr joined School on Wheels in early 2015. Before moving to California, she taught English and writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and worked as a volunteer manager at the Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Association.
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