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How to make the most of your online tutoring lesson

With schools closed many students have turned to online tutoring. It’s an opportunity to ask questions on topics you don’t understand, get direct feedback on passed practice papers and get tailored teaching in your chosen subjects in a 60-minute session.

Many students may only be receiving one hour of face-to-face teaching on a weekly basis; therefore, we want to ensure you get the most out of your lessons. We’ve put together some useful tips, with the help of our tutors.

1. Be prepared

You may only have one hour of contact time per week with your tutor, so it’s important you make the most of it. Ideally, plan a week in advance. Ask your tutor what topic you will be covering the following week, and dig out your study notes. Briefly recap the topic, and pinpoint any particular troublesome areas.

If you are really organised, send your tutor an email ahead of class with bullet points of the specific questions you have. This will enable your tutor to adapt their lesson plan and prepare their teaching material to your needs. Remember, the point of a tutoring lesson is to enhance your knowledge. Don’t waste time in the lesson recapping the easy stuff!

2. Don’t be afraid

Online tutors may not have the benefit of a physical classroom, but they still read their students’ body language through the webcam. By being able to see the student through the video camera, they can identify if a student is struggling to understand an explanation of a theme or topic.

This then allows the tutor to deliver the information in an alternative way that the student understands, and will be reassured by the student’s nod of the head or positive emotion. More importantly, it’s an opportunity to build a friendly rapport with your tutor so you both feel at ease.

3. Outline your goals for the lesson

At the start of every lesson, ensure your tutor has outlined and made you aware of your lesson objectives. By setting goals, you will have a focus and direction to your lesson. You will have plenty of topics to cover, with limited time in which to do so. Therefore, being able to assess whether you have completed the lesson objectives at the end of the session, will allow you and your tutor to adapt homework and the following week’s lesson plan accordingly.

4. Identify your learning style

Different tutors have different teaching styles. Some prefer to take you through presentations, with colourful diagrams and interactive quizzes, whereas some tutors prefer to work off worksheets and encourage more discussion. You will have your own preference, depending on how you receive and absorb information. Most online platforms are equipped for tutors to use whiteboard functions and screen sharing platforms as they choose. If you’re unsure which teaching style works for you, ask your prospective tutor for a trial lesson.

5. Ask questions

The benefit of having a private tutor is that you get to ask them as many questions as you want. They are there to help you and unlike a school classroom, the tutor will move at your pace. During the week when you are doing the allocated homework or completing work given by your school, write down questions that arise and ask your tutor to answer your queries during your lesson. Don’t just rely on trying to remember the questions in your head! You’ll be surprised how quickly you forget them as the week goes on.

6. Be flexible

Sometimes there are things that are just out of your control. If the internet is unstable during a lesson, your tutor will always endeavour to make up the time. Please be understanding and remember, it’s as frustrating for the tutor as it is for you. They may also have multiple classes to teach that same day, so feel reassured that they are doing the best they can to resolve the problem.

If your tutor usually uses Zoom as the online platform to teach and one week it isn’t working, they may ask you to join the lesson on an alternative platform. There are plenty of platforms, such as Google Hangouts, that offer similar functions for tutors to teach effectively, so you will still get the same quality of teaching.

7. Review your notes after a lesson

It’s important that you don’t just write down what the tutor is saying during a lesson. Try to absorb the information and write bullet points to research and read afterwards. Remember, your tutor can email you the notes or presentation after the lesson. Use the class as a place of discussion, share and contribute ideas and use it as an opportunity to test your knowledge. There are functions on Zoom for example that allow the tutor to record the lesson. They could send you the file via We Transfer if you wanted to recap what was taught.


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