When do you need a private tutor?

How do you know you need a private tutor?

To answer this I really need to address what it is a tutor does. A tutor is not the same as a teacher.

At the risk of overly simplifying things, a teacher’s role is to present a curriculum. A curriculum is a set of interrelated topics that will help a student learn about a specific subject. For example, the curriculum for beginning biology would include, among others, an overview of what biology studies, how biologists define life, how cells function, what the major types of cells are, how cells function, how cells make tissues along with other layers of complexity, and so on.

A tutor is going to help you clarify aspects of the curriculum that you have difficulty understanding. In addition, a tutor will help you preview upcoming topics in the curriculum so that you have the ground work to understand that topic when you get there.

To get the most out of a tutor it is best to come with an idea of what you know and what is confusing to you. In addition, a tutor may give you some kind of assessment to see if you are missing foundational knowledge related to the area with which you are seeking help. If you are trying to manipulate a fraction in an algebra equation and don’t know how to add, subtract, multiply or divide fractions, a tutor will start there. This is something a teacher will usually not have time to do as part of the course. It would be assumed, if you were in that course, that you understood how to do that work.

A tutor will be helpful if you are working on specific parts of a larger curriculum. A tutor can help you fill in gaps. A tutor can help you make sense of confusing explanations or to understand the idea behind something like how or why it works.  A tutor can provide extra practice in areas of weakness. A tutor can help you know what you do know. Knowing what you do know is powerful because it builds confidence. Confident people try harder because they believe that they can get “it”.

A tutor will not be helpful if you can’t or won’t practice on your own. A tutor will not be helpful if you come with the idea that “I can’t” do this and are unwilling to let go of that false belief.

A tutor will not be as helpful as they could be if you are not willing to be a little reflective and try to see why there is a hang up. Sometimes it is simply a matter of hearing the concept explained a different way. More often there is some attitude or belief that is interfering with comprehension.

A good tutor can help you explore your confusions, figure out how you’re going astray, and find the right path. A good tutor will help you have the courage to try something, get it wrong, evaluate why, and try the next thing. A good tutor will be part instructor part coach. A good tutor supplements instruction either from a teacher or on your own.

If this is what you need, you will probably benefit from a tutor.


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