You’ve gone through your process, first deciding that you should retain a tutor to help you with your academics, and done your due diligence in selecting the perfect tutor for you. The anticipation is building, as you have the perfect academic ally in your corner. Now, the hard and exciting part begins, as you gear up for your first lesson.
It’s one of the most important moments in a teacher/student relationship. By the end of the first lesson,
- Initial expectations are set for the student, the teacher, and the family.
- Your teacher has a chance to evaluate your work, in real time.
- The academic plan is initially developed.
- You want to feel confident and secure that success can be yours!
A great first lesson just doesn’t happen on its own. Every participant has to adequately prepare. As a teacher, during a first lesson, I primarily focus on learning about the student and the courses that s/he is taking. I am building a profile in my mind, not just about the performance of the student and analysis of work samples from the particular course that I will be teaching, but also what kind of a student will I be working with. To name a few things, I inquire about
- How a student thinks,
- How a student visualizes problems,
- Their organization skills,
- What subjects are enjoyed and despised,
- What are the fears and points of consternation with academics,
- What kind of daily and weekly schedule is kept,
- Plans for the future, and
- Leisure activities
Everything comes together to formulate both short term and long term plan for my student. I want them to excel not only in the course, but also with all of their academics, by judiciously teaching how to be a great student, so that they experience success across all subjects. The observations, the conversations, and the work samples that I review are all critical to the development of a good plan.
Here is a checklist of items that I would prepare to share with your tutor during your first lesson. It will help maximize the benefits you get from your first lesson, and the plans that are drafted for you.
- Gather work samples. I look for both great moments, as well as places where a student had difficulty, in their work. It immediately gives me information about how a student thinks through the problems, concepts both mastered and still elusive, and generates a series of questions based on live examples about how the student studies, how they take and access their notes, what they do in class, and what they thought, and even felt, while completing assessments and assigned tasks. I recommend gathering the following for your tutor, completed in the last two weeks or so:
- Past Exams and Quizzes. Including both the great performance, and not the not so proud moments.
- Class notes. Not the just your notebook, but your entire class binder, if you have one.
- Class and home work examples. Worksheets, book assignments, writing prompts, lab exercises, whatever it may be.
- Syllabus and Textbook. Let’s me know what the teacher’s expectations are, what is being covered over the entire course, and what is required of the student for assignments and grading.
- Current assignments and questions. Sets up a practical starting point for us. The student has the opportunity to learn the current material that they are working with, and the teacher has the ability to observe and assess a student’s study skills and knowledge. Two birds with one stone.
- Self-Assessment. I always ask a student about how they believe their schoolwork is going, and leave it a bit open-ended. I want to know both the good moments and the hard times, and to hear where a student feels are the points of struggle for them. And it is completely natural and acceptable for a student to be vague and not able to accurately articulate what the problem might be; that’s why I ask plenty of follow up questions to help with articulation.
- Goals and Expectations. It is important to understand one another’s goals and expectations, for the academics, what will be during and outside lessons, the commitments to one another. Our philosophy embodies much of our expectations, and I invite you to check it out to get some great ideas that have worked for our students’ successes!
At the end of your first lesson, you should feel confident that you know exactly what is expected of you and of your teacher, what will be worked on with academics and study skills, and what the outcomes should be from each lesson.
Above all, make sure that you have fun at your first lesson, and enjoy the experience of learning! Your tutor is there to help you, so make the most out of the experience!