15 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Tutor

15 Questions to Ask When Looking for a Tutor


1.      What do you tutor?

There is no sense in having a long conversation if the tutor does not teach the subject you need.

2.    Where do you tutor?

Some tutors travel to the client’s home, some tutors meet in a neutral location, and some tutors have the client come to them.

Don’t forget online tutoring! 

Many tutors will use a combination of one of the methods above with online tutoring or do all of their teaching online.

If you have any issues with the location of the lessons, ask the tutor why he or she chooses to teach in this way.  You might be surprised that a method will work for you even though you never thought about it.

3.   How long is each tutoring session? How often do you meet with the student?eder-pozo-perez-32852

4.   What is your availability?

If the tutor does not have any spots available or nothing that will accommodate your schedule, then you can decide to continue on with the conversation or not.  It might still be a great idea to get to know the tutor for future reference.

5.   What are your qualifications, certifications or credentials?

While qualifications are important, there are a wide variety of qualifications. Is the tutor able to express himself or herself well in describing his or her strengths? It is more important that the tutor feels comfortable with the teaching process than his or her having a PhD.

6.   How long have you been tutoring?

Again, this should not be the only deciding factor.  Someone new to tutoring would not have a lot of experience, but she or he might still be an excellent tutor.  Of course, one with lots of experience has probably dealt with many different learning styles and has gone well beyond the lessons learned from textbooks or teacher’s college into the real world of teaching and learning.

7.   Can you tell me a little bit about your teaching philosophy?shield-108065_640

Get to know the tutor by discussing education overall and his or her feelings and thoughts about the importance of learning.  This gives both of you a chance to speak more freely and get to know one another.  You can often begin to get a “feel” that this is the right fit. If a tutor cannot clearly express himself or herself about teaching and students, it might be time to look a little further.

8.   Have you worked before with students who have learning challenges?

This question would not apply to everyone, but many parents are looking for a tutor to handle an identified student.  Even without a formal identification, a student might have issues with attention, dyslexia, or other learning challenges that require remediation.  A tutor who has worked with these kinds of issues will have tools and strategies to help.

9.  How do you assess students?

What kind of tools does the tutor use to discover a student’s current abilities and challenges? How will these tools be used to generate a useful program? Is the tutor willing and able to incorporate results from other assessments?

10.  How do you design the student’s program?

Will the program be flexible or static?  Will the program be homework support only, or will the program be solely based on the tutoring materials?  Of course, flexible programs might include a homework support component as well as lessons to strengthen a student’s foundation.

11 .  What kind of reporting do you provide?

You might discuss the kind and amount of contact available between reports as well.

12.   How can I help in the learning process?

Are there things that I can do at home to help improve the results?

13.  How much do you charge per session?piggy-2889042_640

Please, do not hire a tutor solely based on price!  This is such a bad idea, but something a lot of people do.  Cheap is not always the best choice – particularly when we are talking about developing someone’s brain and helping them gain the skills they will need for the rest of their lives.

14.   Are there any other additional fees for materials, phone calls, assessments, extra homework practice, etc.?

A tutor should always be up-front about the cost of tutoring.  Unfortunately, sometimes there are a lot of hidden fees.   You should be fair as well.  If a tutor is providing a lot of extra practice, she or he has to prepare the materials, read over and mark the answers, and include all of this in their reporting method.  Doing the extra work might need to be rewarded.

15.   What is the policy for cancellations and make-up sessions?

Keep in mind that pedagogically the student should be consistent and available for his or her sessions or to make them up as soon as possible.  To be fair, this also makes sense for the tutor from a business perspective.  Your goal and the tutor’s goal should be to achieve as many sessions as possible on the right day and time.

These questions will get you started.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to find a tutor that will work with you or your child’s particular challenges and goals in mind.  julia-raasch-143428Look for a tutor who won’t simply “plug-in” your child to a program designed for all. Learning is not the same for everyone, so the program for your child should not be identical to the one for thousands more!

Website:    www.tutoringcentral.com

This week’s video:  Questions to Ask When Looking for a Tutor



Tools and Platforms for Online Tutoring

Tutors, parents, and learners will all find some useful information in this one.

Today there are so many tools and platforms that tutors and students can use that geography is no longer an issue.  Missed sessions are basically no longer an issue either.  slava-bowman-161206You can’t make your in-person session?  No problem, we can do an online session!

We can teach students from anywhere in the world; and, of course, we can learn from a teacher from anywhere in the world.  (You know I believe that all learners are teachers and all teachers are learners – or should be.)

It used to be that seeing and hearing your student in real time was almost impossible.  Writing or drawing together in real time sharing – forget it!

Not any more.

Now, we can do all of this and a whole lot more.

I see you! jordan-whitfield-107094

With Skype, Zoom, and/or BitPaper (to name a few), the tutor and student can see, hear, and share real time writing, typing, drawing, videos, etc.  We can import documents to share, and we can make them editable. In other words, the student can make notes, changes, highlight, or draw something right on the same document.

But wait…there’s more!

We can save our sessions.  We can save the recordings (if recording, of course) or the altered documents – or both.

Being able to see each other means that we won’t miss facial expressions and other cues that we use when communicating in person. If you are like me, sometimes your hands are almost as important as your speech when communicating.  With the camera set properly, we can share these expressions as well.

There are other ways to share documents.  Here are a few options:

Many sites allow you to assign math problems or reading passages to students.  You can also print exercises for your “in person” clients.

If you are not “live,” you can still send audio files, video files, and – of course- text files and documents.

Some courses are asynchronous.  For these, the student completes tasks on his or her own.  These are for more independent learners or as an entry into more complex courses. I have asynchronous courses for English, math, and study skills.  Students watch videos and slideshows, read texts, complete quizzes and assignments, and receive a certificate when they complete the course.  While some asynchronous courses don’t, mine allow contact with the instructor and even feedback on some of the assignments.

Other resources (and there are thousands of them) include the following:

Trello – organize yourself and/or collaborate with teams.

Evernote – another organizer and so much more.

Eastoftheweb – short stories and word games.

Braingenie – mostly math & science (part of CK12.org).braingenie

The Math Worksheet Site – generate various math sheets.

Desmos -graphing.

Openlibrary.org – read and borrow books

Readwritethink.org – free language arts material.

Writingsparks.com – instant writing challenges.

Youtube – videos.

There are thousands of tools and platforms that tutors and learners can use.  I have mentioned some of the ones I have used – and continue to learn how to use.  All of the resources I mentioned here are free (at the time of writing this) – so there is no reason not to try them out.

In future blogs, I will explain more about the individual platforms and tools.

If you are a tutor, check out some of these and incorporate them into your toolbox.

If you are a parent, now you can see that online tutoring is a fantastic avenue for your child (or even yourself).

There are no longer any barriers to learning!

Are you interested in taking some online lessons or courses?  Get in touch, and see how great it can be. julia-raasch-143428

Website: www.tutoringcentral.com

This weeks video:  Platforms and Tools online.

How Do I Pay Attention? Seven tips.

How do I pay attention?

A lot of students struggle with this one.

Paying attention is essential to learning from lectures and presentations, but you need an attention span to get the most out of your reading as well.

Often students will ask me, “But how do I pay attention?”

Or they will say, “I just can’t pay attention.”

If you have difficulties paying attention, don’t despair!


There are some active steps you can take that will help you improve.  It will take some effort, I’m afraid; however, the best rewards come from some degree of effort.  If you put your mind to it and follow through, you can improve your attention span. (In other words, if you don’t apply the techniques, you won’t see any change.)

First:          Stop telling yourself that you can’t pay attention.

Second:     Make a commitment to change.

Third:       Create a list of places / times in which you need to pay better attention.

Fourth:     Use a physical reminder.

Fifth        Ask yourself questions.

Sixth:        Get interested.

Seventh:   Practise “tuning out” extraneous noises.

Here is a little more on each of the points above.

Stop telling yourself that you cannot pay attention.  Negative messages only exacerbate the situation. They don’t provide solutions.  You need to be more positive and tell yourself that you can learn to improve. Just because you have limits now does not mean you can never change! Imagine if you just gave up the first time you tried to walk or the first time you tried to talk.  You didn’t know how to say words or string them together into sentences.  Imagine that you thought to yourself at the time, “Well, I simply cannot speak, so I’ll just keep babbling and grunting.”  I know this seems like a silly analogy, but it really isn’t.  Give up the lame excuse!

Making a commitment to change will help you stay on track. Write it down somewhere that you can see it – perhaps a sticky note on your computer or iPad (there are electronic sticky notes) or on your wall or notebook.  “I will improve my attention span.”

Creating a list of times or places in which you need to boost your ability to pay attention will give you a concrete (perhaps literally) starting point. (If your list is long, you might want to chose one or two places to begin.) For example, many people have no issues paying attention to a video game for hours, so that is not the place to start! You already pay attention.  You need to think of arenas in which your attention span is weak – perhaps in chemistry class.  That is where you will begin to make change.


Use a physical reminder to “snap” your attention back to the task at hand.  For example, place an elastic band on your wrist.  When you notice your attention beginning to waver, give your elastic a little “snap.” (If you are in class you’ll need to do this quietly.) It is not intended to hurt – just to remind you that you are off track.  Of course, then you have to consciously focus on what you are supposed to be doing. Remember that you are taking action and control.

Another method is to simply place a “tick” on the margin of your notes every time you realize that your attention is getting away from you.

Be brutal with yourself.

Well, not literally, but take a very proactive approach to developing this good habit.  It always takes more effort to develop a good habit than to fall into a bad habit; but, once ingrained, you will find yourself following through automatically.

Ask yourself questions.  When listening to a lecture, podcast, video, or when reading gold_question_marktext – ask yourself questions (remember SQ3R – check that blog/video if not).  Asking yourself questions keeps you looking for answers.  When you are looking or listening for answers, you are engaged. (Don’t worry you don’t have to buy a ring or get married!  It’s not that kind of engagement.)

Remember:  You do not need fireworks to stay involved! With a little (or a lot at first) effort, you will surprised how fulfilling having a deeper understanding can be.  You will be much more satisfied not only with your performance but also with your ability to discuss topics intelligently as you continue to expand your horizons.

We don’t know what we don’t know.  Don’t you want everything you can get out of an education or, for that matter, your life? Increasing your ability to pay attention can help you achieve and excel.

Get interested.  When the teacher is talking, force yourself (make a concerted effort) to be interested – even if you aren’t.  In other words, fake it until you make it.  By making yourself focus even when you think something might be boring, you will begin to rewire your brain.  It’s true – particularly if you are young.  With effort, you can literally change the connections (synapses) within your brain and the concurrent chemistry that helps you think and respond – or not.


I can change my brain.  Yes, you can!

If you take the same approach with parents, friends, even random conversations at parties, and so on, you will soon begin to realize that you are hearing more, incorporating more, and learning more.  Now, some of the data might be unimportant, but that can easily be released.  (Unless it is a horrible advertising jingle, and then you are doomed for days.)

Practice “tuning out” any noises or activity around you that does not add to your learning experience.  Obviously, you will ultimately want to do this in class, but you can start at home if that’s easier.  Pick one person to talk to or one activity (dare I say homework) and do only that.  No texting, phoning, fidget spinning, singing along with beach-handstandsyour favourite tunes, or handstands – just focus.

How do I pay attention?

You pay attention.  (Are you thinking of making an excuse? Go back to step one.)

Yes, there is a wee cost, but the benefits are well worth it.  As with anything else, the more you do it the easier it becomes.

Try these suggestions, and don’t give up even if you fail a few times (or a few hundred times).  Keep resetting and genuinely giving yourself a chance to improve.

Be proud of any honest moves forward.  You will soon see that the pride of improving yourself is much more valuable than money, candy, or any other material reward.

Let me know how you do.

Tutors help.  Seek out a mentor or educational coach that can guide you.

Don’t be shy to take advantage of my free information meeting.

Get in touch, and I will set it up for you.

Website:  www.tutoringcentral.com

This week’s video: How Do I Pay Attention?

I’m Stupid. That’s Why I’m Here!

I’m stupid.  That’s why I’m here! face-40056_640

If you are a tutor, I’m sure you have heard this comment.

In over twenty years of tutoring, I have never found this comment to be true.  While it is true that many parents seek out a tutor when Sally or Johnny is having a problem at school, tutoring is not only for those with a delay or challenge.  Not only that, but the students who do have some academic difficulties are quite smart in other ways!  Now – let’s not be wearing rose-coloured glasses.  Sometimes their behaviour might bring us to that no-no word “stupid.”  (By the way, it is a good word at times.  Take note, Word Police!) The occasional stupid action or statement (I’ve made many myself.) does not make a stupid person.

Last week, another student made the claim that he is only here at tutoring because he is stupid.

Now, he likes sports and knows quite a lot about them, so I asked him if he would not bother with a coach when he is a professional ________________________.

“No!” he claimed and looked at me as if I were crazy. “Even the best players have coaches.”

“Yes, in fact the very best athletes often seek out several coaches – and the best coaches, depending on their sport,” I pointed out.

In fact, there are plenty of analogies with sport.  If the coach gets frustrated with you, do you give up the sport?

If the coach gives you some new approaches and drills to try, do you throw your hands up and quit?

How often do you do the same drill over and over and over and over….?  (Have you done the same with your algebra?)

A tutor is an educational coach.  He or she can help you reach your academic goals.

I have helped lots of students who are behind, but I have also helped many students who are straight “A” students or those who have mixed results.  In fact, most of the techniques that work for a student with issues will work just as well for an excellent student.

Taking good notes, for example, will help the “A” student stay an “A” student and it will help the “D” student improve.  (Or the IEP “B” student working three grades below age/grade level begin to catch up.)

Using a reading program rather than “blind reading” will help any student – even a PhD candidate!

Learning to listen more effectively….  Well, you get my point.

While there are strategies that are more specific to a particular problem, the common study skills are just that – common to all.

(Unfortunately, their use is not as common as they should be.)

Let me recap in a different way. mistake-2344150_640

You are not stupid!  (Although, let’s be honest – all of us do stupid things from time to time.)

You can make change – perhaps with a little help.

You can work to achieve YOUR very best results.

A tutor can help you get those results.

Calling yourself stupid is either something you’ve picked up from others, a cry for help, or a way of giving up.

Don’t give up!  I know that you can reach a lot further than even you can see at the moment.  We don’t know our strengths until we try our very best.

  • Did someone tell you that you can’t read, so you need someone to read for you?
  • Did someone tell you that you can’t write, so you need someone to write for you?
  • Did someone tell you that you will never be able to do math without a calculator?
  • Did someone tell you that you are stupid?

Well, tell them all to (careful now!) have another look at you once you have taken control of your own education.

Don’t use any of these claims as an “out” so that you don’t have to work hard.  Take up the reigns and get moving forward for yourself.  Picture 21

Website: www.tutoringcentral

This week’s video: Yes you can!