How can you tell if in-home tutoring is worth considering, or if it even works?
You might think that this question is rhetorical. After all, it’s being written by the founder of a tutoring company. But the question is an important one to ask.
Search for Boston tutoring companies, or tutors in Boston, and you’ll get thousands of results. Clearly there are plenty of choices out there.
Before a parent pays out what can amount to thousands of dollars, there needs to be some assurance that the process actually works.
In a recent TedTalk, J im Shelton, who was an Asst. Secretary at the Dept. of Education, talked at length about tutoring. He stated, “student achievement improves dramatically for students who receive one-on-one instruction over traditional classroom instruction”.
During his talk, he cited noted Educational Psychologist Benjamin Bloom, who maintained that, “one-to-one tutoring produces a two-standard-deviation improvement over classroom instruction, and if the U.S. school population improved by just one standard deviation, we would be the top-performing nation in the world”.
At Evolve, we consisently witness impressive progress by our in-home tutoring students, but why is this the case?
tu·tor – noun [tü-ter]: a person charged with the instruction and guidance of another
That’s how Merriam-Webster defines what a tutor is, and I think it’s a good starting place. Certainly an important aspect of tutoring is guiding a student who is struggling with something toward a better understanding. This often happens through instruction, demonstration, and practice.
Of course the tutor needs to have a well grounded understanding of the material at hand, because without that no instruction can take place. What I would submit though, is that in order for this teaching to take place, there are more important things that need to be considered.
The most vital element needed for one on one tutoring to be effective is connection.
With in-home one on one tutoring, there is a completely different dynamic at play than in classroom teaching, or group tutoring. You don’t have a large room, props, or thirty other students to fall back on or worry about. It’s just you and another person, a person who is in the position of needing help with something.
Our experience is that this connection is vital for learning and growth to take place, because without it, kids just look at us as another adult telling them what to do. We certainly don’t want that.
Education is not the the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
William Butler Yeats is credited with this quote, and it is an apt description of what effective tutoring can accomplish. We don’t want to be someone who is filling students heads with information, so they can store it in the short term and then regurgitate it on an exam. Instead, we want to help them find that spark inside themselves, and then help them tend that flame.
So, how do you know if in-home tutoring is effective?
- The first step would be to ask the student! Paying attention to whether or not the student likes their tutor is important in figuring out if tutoring is effective.
- The student needs to feel that their tutor genuinely cares, is patient, and is also interested in their growth and well being.
- You want to make sure that there are measurable benefits as well.
- Are grades, skills, habits, and attitudes showing improvement?
- Is the tutor communicateive and open to answering your questions? The answer absolutley needs to be yes.
These are all important things to ascertain. If they are taking place, wonderful, and if they are not, then something needs to be adjusted or changed so the students needs are being met in a productive and measurable way.
We’re always interested in feedback, so if you have thoughts on what makes tutoring effective, share them here, or email them to us.