Whether you’re a new tutor wondering how you should be conducting your lessons, or if you’ve been a tutor for quite some time and are looking for a change, you’ve come to the right article.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular teaching methods that teachers use and their pros (and cons).
Choosing the right tutoring method for both you and your student makes a drastic difference to your impact as a tutor and how you can effectively help your students to achieve the best learning experience through your lessons.
The teacher-centered approach is where the teacher would take charge of the learning in the classroom.
This is the most common method adopted in schools because there are too many students to cater for in a class and it could get out of control if the teacher does not take the lead.
In a teacher-centered approach, you’ll:
- Teach them the content
- Ensure that they’re on good behaviour, being attentive, disciplined, maintaining a conducive noise level and not interrupting the class
- Ensure that they are completing their tasks as per your set expectations
As the name suggests, the focus would all be on you and the students have to listen to you.
However, there are downsides to the common teacher-centered approach:
- Students may behave but may not really absorb their learning because they’re not engaged
- Students may find learning boring and grow to dislike it
- Students may not hone the required practical skills
- Students are not able to think out of the box or exercise critical thinking and creativity because their answers always come from the teacher
- Students may not know how to work with others
- Students may not have the confidence to speak out
With a student-centered approach, the focus is on students learning with each other through projects, discussions and coming up with solutions together.
There would be lots of collaborations and discussions, and the teacher’s role is more of leading the discussion by planning beneficial activities and guiding them with their discussions.
Student-centered learning can also be known as cooperative learning where students are honing their collaboration, communication and teamwork skills and learn how to work with others to obtain their own learning.
For example, you can give your students a difficult problem to work out in groups, which would require them to combine their knowledge and ideas in order to come up with a solution.
Tip: Introverted or shy students may find it difficult to benefit from this learning method. Make it compulsory that every member of the discussion must have equal contributions by having organised areas or sections to fill in. This will motivate them to have effective collaboration.
In normal practice, school teachers would teach the content in class before the students go home to do their homework.
But often, students are not able to pay attention in class for multiple reasons:
- They are distracted by their surroundings (e.g. noisy classmates)
- They are tired in school
- They are shy to clear their doubts in front of their classmates
For whatever reason, they go home lost and confused when they attempt their homework — they didn’t absorb any learning from school.
This is where you can provide a different yet effective method for your tuition classes.
The ‘flipped classroom’ technique means literally ‘flipping’ the mainstream method of teaching, and instead, letting students do up their own reading and learning before they come to class to clarify their mistakes, ask questions and confirm their learning.
It allows your students to go through the content at their own pace, saving time and letting them take charge of their own learning.
The advancement of technology has allowed students to access more productive learning from their homes as their homework. You can compile topical videos that you want your student to watch before they come for your lesson, which would be more engaging and interesting for your student as compared to reading textbooks.
This method is effective for tutors as you can easily bridge the students’ gaps, all at once.
In school, teachers have so many students and they are not able to check every student’s understanding.
Even when they pose a question to the class, the students are not motivated to answer in a big group setting. Because of the lack of time, the teacher usually has to rush through their lesson and move on.
Just going through the content in class wouldn’t be enough because many students wouldn’t take the initiative to clarify anything that they don’t understand and instead, they just brush it off.
You need to apply deliberate questioning by asking more than just yes or no questions. With just two choices, they can easily get it right but they might not understand the concept behind it.
A popular type of questioning method is Socratic questioning that would promote the student’s reflection by asking questions in a disciplined manner.
The questioning method avoids spoon-feeding the student with answers but instead, getting them to go through logical thinking to arrive at conclusions on their own, so that they can be more independent yet guided in their learning.
You will have to plan suitable activities and prepare materials for them to understand the concepts that you aim to teach.
This method will definitely be helpful for kinesthetic learners, and even visual learners, since they can experiment and learn from visualisations.
Differentiated instruction, also known as personalised learning, is a popular method of teaching as it caters for each student’s individual needs.
In the mainstream classroom, students are taught with a one-size-fits-all approach and teachers try to conduct their lessons in a way that most students will benefit from.
But not all students fit into the mainstream and every student has their own best learning method.
Giving differentiated instruction means that you are flexible and adapt to the students’ different needs in their learning.
For example, if one of your students learns best by reading notes, while another cannot absorb any learning from just black-and-white words, you can prepare notes for one student but explain to the other using practical learning materials.
This will ensure that both students are learning instead of the student having to force themselves to adapt to the mainstream learning method in which they cannot learn with.
Differentiated instruction requires you to think on your feet and out of the box, crafting learning that’s best suited for your students, based on what they need.
School curriculums are tight and hectic, and school teachers may find it difficult to inculcate fun into their students’ learning. Consequently, students are not able to keep up and maintain their love for learning.
Many students harbour the misconception that learning is dreadful and boring, but it actually does not have to be all serious and disciplined. You can turn that around for them by making learning fun with games in your tuition classes.
With competitive games, students will gain a natural motivation to try their very best and pay attention to the information that they need in order to win. It will not even feel like they have to put in the effort to learn.
Any learning point can be made into a game as long as you make it exciting for your student. You can come up with your own creative games or take some inspiration from ours.
There is no standard format for tutoring and you can experiment with the different methods that I have just introduced to see what works for you and your students.
Remember that every student is different and there’s no harm in giving your tutoring method a switch — you might just find the method that best fits your student and it would make a world of a difference!
Want more tutoring tips? Read our other articles here.