Parents are often curious how tutoring sessions are typically organized. Tutor Doctor has a simple guide for families and tutors alike! Here’s how to structure your tutoring sessions:
At Tutor Doctor, we’re a big fan of prioritizing. In fact, our X-Skills Program emphasizes the process of identifying alpha and beta tasks – meaning that students should organize their responsibilities on a weekly basis in order of importance.
Tutoring sessions should be structured the same way – around priorities. In general, we recommend tutors take a fluid approach toward structuring their sessions. In many cases, something will simply “come up” that requires a detour from the regularly planned instruction!
“Priority sessions” should focus on upcoming tasks that are time-sensitive. Examples of priority sessions include:
- Upcoming exams or tests
- SAT/ACT/AP test prep
- Big projects or assignments that are due soon
Teachers grade tests and essays on their own schedules, so students may not know exactly when they’ll receive a graded assignment back. As a result, it can be beneficial for tutors to remain flexible in their approach – tests with disappointing results should generally be prioritized for review.
“Maintenance sessions” are just as important as priority sessions. The only difference is that these sessions tend to be structured around existing responsibilities and overall academic goals. Tutors should use these sessions to practice concepts the student needs more time with while identifying potential learning gaps that may need addressing.
Maintenance sessions can be structured around larger concepts rather than specific assignments. Completing homework assignments together is a great way for students to “relearn” what they were introduced to in class. However, students will also be able to learn at their own pace by asking clarification questions throughout the session.
Examples of “maintenance sessions” would include:
- Additional core subject instruction (math/language arts)
- Weekly homework assignments or packets
- Executive skill training (organization/time management)
Tutors and families should try to achieve an overall balance between priority and maintenance sessions. In some cases, families will fall into a habit of using their tutoring sessions on an “as needed” basis – only scheduling sessions around pressing upcoming responsibilities. Unfortunately, we cannot recommend this approach – the result is that students only receive tutoring when a specific task or assignment is looming.
In other words, this approach creates an environment where every session is a “priority session.” This can create a fair amount of unneeded pressure for both the student and tutor. As a result, we encourage organizing your tutoring sessions on a predetermined schedule. It’s not worth skipping a session simply because there isn’t a big exam coming up!
Ultimately, structuring a tutoring session is a very individualized process. It will depend on the student’s individual needs, upcoming responsibilities, and availability. This is, after all, the key benefit of one-to-one personalized tutoring!