The tutoring consultation meeting: Part 2: Specific questions and discussion
(see also: Part 1: What to expect at the interview)
What can you expect to discuss at a tutoring consultation meeting? What questions might you want to ask of the potential tutor?
- The tutor will ask you for basic information that will help him or her devise the best individualized program for the student. This may include: name, age, gender, grade, educational and career background, relevant life experiences, special needs (physical, emotional, intellectual, etc), what the student already knows about the subject/topic, constraints (home, work, school, other activities) that might get in the way of learning progress, current degree of literacy, and so on.
- If you can bring along the student’s report cards, samples of their work in the area of concern, and other similar materials, it will help the tutor plan the most suitable learning program.
- The tutor may do some kind of assessment tests, if your child is included in the consultation meeting (or may assess you, if you are the student). For example, if reading is the problem, the tutor may have the child read samples from different reading levels and then ask comprehension questions. If math is the area of difficulty, the tutor may pose different kinds of questions at different levels (basic math facts, word problems, geometry questions, etc) and observe how the child works through each one.
- The tutor may well ask you about the student’s learning strengths and weaknesses in the past, including in subject areas besides the one(s) in question. The tutor may also inquire about what teaching/ learning strategies have worked in the past, and which have not.
- The tutor may ask permission to contact the student’s teacher(s) for additional information, and for progress reports on how the tutoring is affecting classroom progress.
- What are your short-term (lesson-by-lesson) and long-term (final, end of the tutoring term) goals for this particular student? It is important that you, the tutor, and the student (as well as other people such as the child’s teacher, if you are including them on the “learning team”) are clear on and agree with the tutoring goals.
- Why is a tutor needed to help the student reach these goals? How will the tutor do that? What can the tutor do for the student that the teacher (and/or other helpers) are not able to do? In other words, is hiring a tutor the best way to accomplish your goals? Is this particular tutor the best fit? Why?
- What will the tutor do to individualize the tutoring program to the student’s particular needs? It should be noted that some tutors – and particularly some tutoring companies – have programs which they follow for every child, without much regard for the child’s individual needs. Other tutors develop very individualized programs, which they may adjust as the program continues. You may also ask how often the tutor provides updates to you, and what form those updates take.
- The tutor will no doubt tell you about their lesson ideas, and their long-term strategies. You should realize that as time passes, lessons and strategies may need to be tweaked. This is one of the advantages of tutoring over school based learning: there is greater opportunity to make needed changes in approach, based on the current individual needs.
- Be prepared to ask questions about, and discuss, invoicing and payment plans. Some tutors have very clear guidelines; others are willing to make some adjustments. However, please remember that for most tutors, this is not only something they love doing, but it is also their income. Not only are many tutors educated and experienced professionals, but they are also offering a specialized, individualized service. You may be startled at first at the costs, and the expectation to faithfully be paid on time, but realize that you are receiving a professional service (like going to the doctor or dentist or other professional), and very likely at a much lower rate than most professionals charge. Also, realize that “$20 per hour” likely really is more like “$10 per hour” as the tutor will also be spending a lot of time preparing lessons, possibly marking work and preparing reports, and also following up with you outside of lesson time. If they also have to drive to your home, their cost will include travel time and transportation costs.
- The tutor may ask you to provide certain materials: textbooks, notebooks, pens and/or pencils, graph paper, and so on. Alternatively, the tutor may provide these materials; if so, the price per hour may be a little higher, to include these costs.
- What does the tutor require from the parents (or the adult student) to maximize the effectiveness of the tutoring? Will there be “homework” or does all the student’s tutoring effort happen at the tutoring sessions? How much is the parent expected to help out with home study between sessions? It is important for the tutor and the parents (or adult student) to be in agreement about these things right from the start.
- The tutor may ask you to sign a contract which indicates such factors as location, dates and times, payment fees and schedules, and so on. This is for your protection as well as the tutor’s! Read the contract carefully before signing. If you have questions or concerns, raise them now. There may be room for negotiation. If changes are made to your copy, be sure the same changes are made to the tutor’s copy, and that both are signed by each of you.
- If you are meeting at the location where the tutoring will take place, ask to see the session location. Is it quiet and conducive to learning? Will the tutor and student be alone, or will others be in the general area? Does the tutor allow parents to “sit in” on sessions, or prefer time alone with the child?
- If the tutor has the child come to his or her home, does the tutor have liability insurance? Has the tutor had a police background check done lately?
Discussion: What else would you like to ask about at the consultation meeting with a prospective tutor?
Penticton tutor: If you live in the Penticton area, and are looking for a tutor, be sure to check out my Penticton tutor information page!