This month is Stress Awareness Month, and in this blog I want to share with you some tips for reducing stress for your tutees (and in turn, yourself) during tuition sessions. Stress can build up due to nerves around the subject (e.g. Maths, Science), or shyness in meeting a new tutor, or occurrences that may be happening outside of tuition sessions in the students’ lives. In order to learn, it is best to reduce stress as much as possible, so here are my tips!

Reducing stress for yourself

  • Wear a watch – keeping track of time can really benefit your tuition sessions, as it reduces any stress around not getting enough done, or not having enough materials to keep the students busy throughout the session. Rather than relying on there being a clock somewhere in the room that you are working in, wear a watch to ensure that time does not have to be a stressor for you or your students.
  • Take your lesson plan with you – either jot down the Do it Now, Starter, Main and Plenary tasks you plan to do in the lesson, or print off your actual lesson plan and take it with you. This helps to reduce stress as you do not have to worry about forgetting which differentiated task is for which student, for example. It is also handy to be able to note down any feedback you have about specific tasks or from students in the session, which helps you to fill in the Feedback Forms after the lesson.
  • Breathe – it is understandable to sometimes be a little nervous before a lesson, especially if it is your first time. Before you head inside the school or into the VEDAMO classroom, take a few seconds to breathe deeply three or four times. This helps to regulate your nervous system which in turns helps to calm your thoughts and make you feel prepared to do your best in the session.

Reducing stress for the students

  • Ask ‘How are you?’ – at the beginning of each lesson, take a few minutes to ask each student how they are, or how their day/week is going. Opening up this line of communication can help the students to feel more comfortable during the rest of the lesson and allows them to express any good or bad feelings they may have about the session. This is helpful as you can then respond with positive reinforcement – e.g. a student may tell you they are nervous about doing a Maths lesson because they don’t think they’re good at Maths – which gives you the perfect opportunity to give them a boost of confidence saying something like: “I understand it is a difficult subject for you, but I think with the work we do in these sessions you will be able to make great progress and Maths can become a little easier.“
  • Get to know them – at the beginning of each assignment, I recommend using at least one task to get to know the students. Previously I have created a simple ‘Get to Know Each Other’ worksheet with questions such as ‘what is your favourite school subject? /sport/colour?’ and I also filled one of these sheets in myself to give the students a little bit of information about me. Building this relationship can really help in two key ways – firstly, it can help the more shy students to feel more comfortable in your sessions, which can make a big difference to their learning. Additionally, this tip can really boost engagement, as you can use students’ hobbies or likes in future lessons. If you have a couple of students who like football, for instance, you can use the Premier League Table to teach them Maths.
  • Use a range of activities – when planning your lessons, try to use a range of different styles of activities to keep the students engaged. For instance, you may want to include a matching task, a competitive game, and a worksheet in one lesson, rather than three worksheets! Helping students to stay engaged can reduce their stress as the positive feelings of having fun, learning, and being engaged can distract a pupil from stress, or even outweigh any negative feelings they may have.

Those are my top tips for reducing stress in tutoring sessions, for both yourself and the students involved. Stress can be such a weight on one’s shoulders, and really build up over time if not attended to. From my experience, the staff at The Tutor Trust are always willing to help, so I would definitely advise asking for help if you need it! We have a wide range of experienced staff members, so there’s always someone who can lend a helping hand. We also have monthly Tutor Voice sessions – a place for tutors to connect with each other and The Tutor Trust, and voice any concerns or feedback they have, so look out for those on our social media if you feel this would be helpful for you.