6 Tips for Selecting a Tutor

Doctor Schlaukind
Doctor "Schlaukind" is trained in Psychology and the author of numerous scientific articles and methodological textbooks on the topic of developmental communication skills in children. She has been practicing both child psychology and speech therapy for 17 years. In order to preserve the anonymity of her patients, she writes for eKidz under the alias Dr. Schlaukind.
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Throughout history, teachers have enjoyed a high status in history. And it’s understandable why that is. Having a great teacher can be truly life-altering. And this is certainly something you should keep in mind when selecting a tutor for either yourself or your child. Choosing the correct tutor is one of the most important steps you can take to make learning a lot easier. While it’s difficult to give an exact recipe because everyone’s needs are different, here are a few tips you should keep in mind when selecting a tutor.

#1 – Focus on your goal

The most thing to focus on when choosing your tutor is your goal for learning in the first place. Do you need to pass an exam? Want a better grasp of the topic in general? Just want to keep your mind busy? It’s important to keep your goal in mind so that you know what to look for in potential tutors. If you’re preparing for an exam, for example, you can focus on short-term efficiency and not worry too much about whether you and your tutor have matching personalities. The opposite is true if you’re looking for someone to work with for a long time. In that case, you’d want someone who you’d be happy to meet and collaborate with week in and week out.

So, the first step in selecting the right tutor for you is to think about why you want one in the first place. Write down the characteristics or qualities the prospective teacher needs to have and arrange them according to importance. That way you’ll have a very clear picture of what to look for in the perfect tutor going forward.

#2 – Consider your options

When choosing your tutor, there are also some things you can’t control. For example, your location. If you happen to live in a small town, you are going to have a much smaller pool of potential teachers than what you might like. In a big city, the problem might be the opposite – too many qualified candidates, which can make the job of choosing one rather complicated.

That’s why you should adjust your strategy accordingly. When faced with a lack of options, consider moving your lessons online. That way, you’ll be able to choose the right online teacher regardless of their (or your) physical location. And if you feel overwhelmed with options, make a pact with yourself to only look at (or meet with) a certain number of teachers. Opt for the “good enough” strategy to avoid getting swamped.

A child is reading a book

#3 – Know where to look

This point also has much to do with where you happen to live. If you’re looking for online lessons, there are a number of websites dedicated to connecting you with the tutor of your dreams and a simple Google search can take you a long way. But even if you’re looking for in-person lessons, the Internet should still be the first place to turn to. In many cases, a simple “private [topic] teacher [your location]” search will provide a number of results for you to start with. Another time-honoured way of finding a great tutor is to simply ask people in a similar position. Looking for a tutor to help your son with maths? Start by asking any of the other parents in his class.

While hanging up flyers or putting an ad in the local paper might be the way these things used to be done, much of that has now moved online and will be much less hasslesome. However, you can still find music teachers by putting up flyers in your local conservatory, for example. And university message boards are another great place to start if you feel like doing it old-school.

#4 – Do your research

The part where the Internet really shines for your tutor-hunt is that it makes it easy to find out a lot about your prospective teacher even before meeting them. Most websites designed to connect you with a tutor will also provide references for them from former students. This information will help you save time when choosing which tutors to contact and meet with.

But remember to read between the lines when dealing with public references. It’s only rarely that anyone writing a reference would have anything outwardly negative to say. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still gather valuable information. This is where the list you made in step #1 comes into play. You can start by scanning the references for the keywords important to you and only then make note of anything else that gets mentioned. And remember that what is missing in the references is usually more important than what is present.

#5 – Contact and meet with several potential tutors

Before making your final decision, you should certainly meet with at least a few alternatives. It’s one thing contacting someone online but, if you’re looking for in-person lessons., you should definitely meet with your future teacher before committing to lessons. Most of the time, tutors will be happy to provide a free initial meeting and test-lesson (and you should be apprehensive of the ones that don’t).

During the first meeting, you should assess the potential tutor according to the goals you set and ask about the details of the lessons. Feel free to also ask about any qualifications, demanding to see a valid certificate. You should also simply pay attention to what information the tutor provides upfront and how they make you feel in general. Often, you can intuitively recognise an excellent tutor just by how they present themselves. However, having a prepared list of questions also does wonders.

A child is reading a book

#6 – Be upfront about what you want

However, just as it’s important for the tutor to give you enough information, it’s also vital that you’re upfront and clear about what you’re looking for. Talk about your goals, learning styles, hobbies and interests, special needs, or anything else that might be of importance going forward. Since most great teachers adapt their lessons and style to your personal needs, they need to know what you want to be able to do that. It might feel awkward telling a tutor what to do but, the clearer your instructions are, the easier it is for them to do their job. And remember to give honest feedback all throughout the process to help both yourself and your tutor.

Conclusion – Take your time to select the best tutor

Selecting the right tutor can make all the difference. That’s why it’s important to take your time and do your research before settling on one. To help yourself make the decision, first figure out your own goals and draw up a list of qualities that are important to you. That way you know what to focus on in your search. Search the Internet or ask for recommendations to settle on a few candidates and then meet them face-to-face to determine who works best for you. It’s also important to be upfront with and honest with prospective tutors so that they know the best way they might be able to help you.

If you follow all of these tips, you’ll be sure to select a tutor who not only teaches but also inspires you.

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