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Help me become a better tutor

  1. Nov 19, 2008 #1
    How do I

    1) Stay in sync with the material when I dont own a copy of their textbook? I don't think I can purchase their textbook and photocopies I don't think are a good option. I don't want it to be, we meet and then we discuss what they are confused on. I would likes some degree of structure and preparation to be involved.

    Are Schaum's outlines good for this purpose?

    2) What is a good source of challenging but reasonable problems for precalculus? One of my students is in an honors precalc course and he seems to do fine except for 1 or 2 questions that are a bit trickier.

    3) From your experiences, is it my duty to make the student study? My boss told me that this is part of my job, but I think it's ridiculous to even think I have the ability to make a student study. They are going to do whatever they are going to do. I think the only effect I have on him is by prepping good material, good quizzes and good practice problems. I got into a big fight over this.

    4) Is it easier to post my own tutoring ads at a local university or around town? I don't like being responsible for a student's grade but not being able to do things my own way.
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 19, 2008 #2


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    Ive been lucky and most of the kids i tutor use the same textbooks, which happen to be the ones i used when i was in highschool which does help alot since i know the texts well, but there are a few who use unfamiliar texts. In those cases i usually ask them to give me a copy of their course outline which goes over the material they will cover during the year, in the order that it will be covered, which allows me to read up on anything that i may be unfamiliar with.
  4. Nov 19, 2008 #3


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    Get a list of the topics they are learning, for example, a reading list and syllabus for the course or schedule of lectures. This will help you know what material they are covering. You might be able to get a copy of the textbook from a library just to peruse the depth of content. Not all classes follow the textbook anyway, so you really need to see their course schedule/reading list anyway.

    The time spent with a tutor IS studying, so yes, you're getting them to study by having them show up. It's more than just giving them practice problems and quizzes. You should be helping them with their study skills. No, you can't then force them to use them, but you can at least give them the tools. Students struggling in a course often just don't know how to study well, and it's not for lack of time spent trying. Probe them with questions, show them how to connect concepts from one lecture to another. Those are study skills a tutor should be helping with.

    In fact, many students don't even know how to use a practice test well. They look at it, guess an answer, then look up the right answer and find out why it was the right answer. They need to take two more steps, at minimum, to use that practice test effectively. First, they need to look up why the wrong answers were wrong. Second, they need to revisit all of the material surrounding the correct answer to better understand it and figure out why they didn't know that answer.
  5. Nov 21, 2008 #4
    What age group do you tutor? High school or college? Do you tutor multiple students at one time? Are they from the same school, class, teacher?

    Now days, public school teachers often have a teaching webpage that lists what their students are studying in class and associated assignments. That should give you some foresight if it applies to your situation.
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