Active listening helps a client see that what they are doing is understandable and once they feel that you can understand them, perhaps they can understand themselves if you say back to them what they might be saying. And you can also have them explain what they might be doing in order for them to see their own approach. It is the same thing in introductions as when someone first says their name to you, if you repeat it back to them with a hello, you affirm that you have heard the name and you have a better chance of remembering it, therefore you can use the name later when addressing them, and vice versa if you say your name to someone else. Sometimes two people clash when one is having a good day and the other is having a bad one. We do not have to feel the same way, but the person who is having a good day can sympathize with the person who is having a bad day, and give them reassurance that better days are to come. If we see a struggling student, instead of agreeing that they are “failures” or “inadequate,” we can reassure them that they can improve. I have had a client once who was preparing for a test with me, and he wasn’t feeling very confident as we began the tutoring, and I told him that he can understand this material, and by having him repeat back to me what we had gone over at the end, he felt like he understood everything better than if we had parted by simply ending the session after going over the material. A recap is very beneficial, especially if the student is the one reflecting, they tend to grasp the material better. This helps to avoid confusion issues later, and reasserts the material in the student’s mind. Adding this method certainly helped his confidence, and helped him get his first A on a test.
I have had several clients that have made use of my unscheduled hours, and negotiation is key. If the times which are needed do not work with the client and the tutor, then there are more tutors very willing to take clients. Sometimes it is very difficult to say no to someone who really needs help, but you also have to make sure that clients are not becoming dependent on you. A tutor should always try to help the client realize they really can do all of the things they come to tutoring for by themselves. If you feel someone is coming to you every week, and not doing any work before they come, and expecting you to explain it and go over everything with you, then you have to assert that they should at least try it by themselves before coming to see you. If you notice that a client comes to you all the time the day before a test, paper or homework is due, then you have to mention that they should come to you earlier, so that they themselves can understand the material in less of a rush, and be able to work on or study material after the session so to see the process of knowledge. If they come back confused, or have a small question, at least you can see how far they progressed and where they need the most help, rather than trying to comprehend everything in one hour.
I was once sent by email a request that said, “Can you please check/fix this paper and then send it back to me?” This took me by surprise. This is not how tutoring works and I contacted this person later to tell them to make an appointment with me at TJ’s so that we could go over the paper to look for possible errors. No matter how much clients may come to you in help just so that you will do their homework for them, that is unacceptable. And there is no other option except to tell them: No, I will not, cannot, and shall not do your homework for you. But I can help you to understand the concepts, I can lead you to find your own errors, but I won’t correct them for you, I can point out reoccurring problems, I can help you clarify the assignment, show you how to approach different ways of learning, how to find you own way. That is the point of tutoring, to help one’s client become more confident, capable and independent in their own work. So just say “no” to doing it for them, it won’t help them and it is against your honor to do so; so stand firm. Let them know what you are really there for.