I have been tutoring for various accounting courses at UCSC, such as Econ 10A, 10B, and Advanced Accounting. I found that there are a lot of complications in teaching more than one course at a time; and even more complications arise when the professors teaching a course are not the same as when you were enrolled. When this happens, the teaching style and the layout of the class may vary. Whether you decide to tutor just one course or more, I have a few suggestions that may make your life a bit easier.
First and foremost, remember that even though you are a tutor, you are also a student and have the right to make mistakes. Even our professors do not always get the right answer initially. What I have done is asked my students to email me questions ahead of time so that I can prepare for the sessions in order to make it more productive. Even if the student does not email questions prior to the meeting, there are always our old exams and notes that we can use to run the sessions. Use the resources available to you. Whether it is exchanging information with the course TA’s, using your old exams or even professors who will gladly offer textbooks and access to course websites, it is important to utilize all of the resources available in order to maximize the potential impact on your tutee’s learning.
When tutoring two different classes, especially when there is a combination of both upper and lower division courses, you need to remember that the level of knowledge and terminology you use when speaking to your tutee may be above or below their level of understanding. It is very important to be able to adjust your teaching style to where your tutee is in their academic journey (upper vs. lower division, course progression, etc.) in order to increase the efficiency of the session, as well as reduce confusion. Making this a priority is critical to tailoring productive tutoring sessions.
Another important point (geared primarily towards group sessions) is to facilitate the building of not just the relationship between you and your students, but also the relationships the students have with each other. I try to engage them in some form of conversation. Often the topic of conversation is regarding their class. As an example, I would ask about their quiz and how they did, what they consider the hardest part of the chapter, or simply steer the conversation away from school and ask what they did during their weekend. I try to facilitate relationship building with my students by letting them work on the problems together or seek each other’s help when necessary.
After a few sessions, you will catch onto when a student truly understands the material or when they just claim that they do. In any case, little quizzes are always helpful in assessing a tutee’s understanding of the materials. Always know that there is nothing wrong with picking a student to answer the question about the material. Ultimately, this will only help them better grasp concepts behind the material because they will be forced to work through the thought process, leading to increased comprehension.
Overall, tutoring is not as daunting as it might seem. It is an amazing experience that allows you to help fellow students along their academic journey, while developing vital leadership skills that you can take with you into the workforce. As long as you put in the time and preparation to create a productive session, you will minimize personal mistakes. If a mistake does happen during a session, use it a learning experience with students to show that that mistakes are ok as long as the proper steps to rectify them are taken. Good luck and make sure to enjoy the opportunity you have before you.