Understanding what makes a good tutor — and what separates a good tutor from a great tutor — can help you evaluate and choose the right tutor for your student. Online tutoring doesn’t provide one-size-fits-all solutions, as student learning styles, emotional maturity, strengths, and weaknesses make every tutor-student relationship unique. The private tutor that’s right for one student may be the wrong choice for another.
That said, there are some traits all good tutors have in common, but a great tutor possesses these in abundance. Check the following characteristics off your tutor hiring checklist and you can be confident your student will get the best help possible.
Good Tutors Are Subject Matter Experts
This should go without saying, but good tutors know their stuff. They’re more than just experts in their academic field; they’re enthusiastic about the subject and eager to pass their knowledge on to students. They lead discussions with ease and find ways to make learning relevant not only to a student’s studies, but to the student’s interests as well.
Great Tutors Love to Teach
There are as many reasons to tutor as there are tutors. Graduate students often take up tutoring to help put themselves through college. Some tutors see tutoring as a way to build their resumes as they look for teaching positions, while others see it as a profitable side hustle separate from their day job.
These are all perfectly good reasons for tutoring, but great tutors have another motivation: They love teaching. They’re dedicated to helping students improve and learn. For such tutors, there’s no better feeling than knowing they’ve helped a student master new study skills or given a student the confidence to participate in class. This is perhaps what really separates a great tutor from a good tutor — a passion for what they do.
A Good Tutor Is a Good Listener
Online tutoring sessions are not lectures; tutors spend as much time listening to their students as they do talking. A willingness to listen helps tutors identify the causes of academic problems or a lack of confidence. Once these issues are identified, the tutor can work with the student to devise solutions.
These solutions can be teaching new study skills, tailoring tutoring sessions towards the student’s individual learning style, or helping the student access help from school counselors. By listening to and respecting their students, tutors begin the process of building a trusting two-way relationship that facilitates growth and learning.
Good Tutors Build Relationships
Few relationships are as strong as a mentor-student relationship. Building on the trust gained by actively listening to the student, a tutor can move on to personalizing learning, showing students how the information learned in class and tutoring sessions relates to their own interests. Such work requires vulnerability from both the student and the tutor, which can only happen in a relationship built on trust.
Good Tutors Communicate
Great tutors don’t just build relationships with students. They communicate regularly with parents, which is key to managing a successful tutoring program. Tutors reach out to teachers and counselors to gain insight into a student’s learning style and challenges, and use that knowledge to create unique learning plans that improve the chances of academic success.
Great Tutors Are Lifelong Learners
Anyone who thinks they know it all shouldn’t be tutoring. A good tutor knows there’s always something new to learn, and they’re excited by that prospect. Whether it’s improving their subject matter expertise, collaborating with teachers and parents, taking professional development courses, or finding out what makes their students tick, great tutors are curious, lifelong learners whose enthusiasm for learning inspires everyone they teach.
A Good Tutor Is Honest and Forthright
Honesty is a vital character trait in a tutor. If a tutor doesn’t know something, they don’t try to bluff their way through it. They admit they don’t know and take steps to fill in their knowledge gap. This may mean a willingness to rethink a lesson plan that isn’t interesting to a student, or deferring to the expertise of an academic advisor. In some cases, it may even mean referring a student to a different tutor, if doing so is what’s right for the student. Honesty also helps build that all-important tutor-student relationship.
Great Tutors Teach Necessary Life Skills
Students often approach private tutors for help with a specific subject area. Perhaps their reading skills are below grade level. Maybe they’re struggling with Calculus or want help prepping for the SAT or ACT exams. And while it’s important to address these concerns, a great tutor doesn’t stop there. The best tutors teach skills students can use in all their classes, not just one.
Time management, study skills, organization, test preparation — these skills are important in every class the student takes and have applications in all areas of life. The end goal of any good tutor is to teach their student how to become an independent learner with the confidence needed to set out on their own journey.
It’s this type of tutor that we hire at Revolution Prep. To learn how our tutoring sessions can help your student, talk to a Revolution Prep team member today.