By Cliona O'Hanlan and Jodie Jones
⏱ Friday 13th November 2020

Going back to tutoring after lockdown can feel like venturing into the unknown, but it is really nothing to fearWe have been back to tutoring, both online and in person, since September and have really enjoyed it. There were a few obstacles we encountered at first, and lots of adaptations which we have had to make, but we got used to these quickly and realised they were nothing to worry about. 

Firstly, when planning the content of your tuition, it is important to remember that pupils have missed out on six months’ worth of education. This means that they may be a little bit behind on their knowledge due to having missed topics, or even just because they have forgotten information whilst they have been away from school. Sometimes teachers are unaware of these gaps too, so this may be a learning process for both yourself and the pupil. What this essentially means is that there are more opportunities to adapt to the pupils’ needs by reviewing all key concepts to determine gaps in their knowledge. 

The great news is that the pupils seem more engaged than ever this year. Those sitting GCSEs and SATs this academic year seem to be especially great at understanding the value of their tuition. Many pupils are seeing this as a chance to catch up and it is helpful that as a tutor, you can tailor sessions to answer their questions. 

As well as the academic side of returning to tutoring, schools’ COVID-19 procedures were something we were unsure of at first. Every school has slightly different rules which are explained in the introductory meeting, but all the tutoring we have done so far has felt safe. All schools have been really accommodating. If PPE is not required throughout the session and this makes you uncomfortable, then make this clear to the school. Schools, as well as the Tutor Trustwant you to feel safe in every assignment and will try to accommodate your preferences, so don’t feel like you are unable to advocate for your safety. The great news is that by the time we started tutoring, pupils were already used to their schools’ procedures and the mask wearing, hand sanitising, and social distancing seemed like second nature to them!  

We have really enjoyed having to be creative with our tasks. For example, in schools where tutors are asked not to touch pupils’ workbooks, peer assessment and reading aloud have been helpful tools. 

Online tutoring is also very new to us all, but it is not as daunting as some people think! In fact, it ilike face-to-face tuition in many ways. The structure of the lesson, for example, should mirror face-to-face tuition. However, some activities may need to be adapted to suit the online platform. We have found that online tutoring is quite like in-person tuition which is ran in schools with strict COVID-19 procedures, so lots of the techniques you pick up for one situation can be transferred to the other! 

It may take some time to figure out what activities work best for you, but resources like quizzes work great in online tuition. They are an especially helpful took to gauge prior knowledge at the beginning of a session or assess what pupils have learned at the end of a session. You can access a tonne of great resources online using Thinqi Library, the special Tutor Trust resource bank.

One aspect of online tuition we have found to be more difficult is preventing the pupil from becoming distracted. However, having a range of engaging tasks helps to prevent this. Making sure the camera is switched on at regular intervals will make sure the pupil is focused, and asking questions throughout an explanation or reading will determine if a child has been listening 

In summary, returning to tutoring whether online or in-person is nothing to be worried about. Tuition may be slightly different or feel weird at first, but you will be able to adapt your tutoring style to suit current new mediums of tuition. Thinking of inventive ideas to engage children in different ways is more important than ever to make sure tuition is having as big as impact as possible. Furthermore, safety is everyone’s priority, and if you feel uncomfortable just say! Yes, it is weird, but absolutely nothing to be worried about. 

Date of publication: 13/11/2020