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tutor = waste of money

(23 Posts)
theweekendisnear Tue 06-Nov-12 22:26:50

The tutor is me... and I need some advice.
I have a student whom I have tutored for 2 years. He has done quite well last year (got an A in GCSE Maths), and is doing A level Maths this year. Last year I had told his parents that I didn't think he would enjoy doing A level Maths, as he wasn't really working that hard. He didn't want to do A level Maths, but then decided to go for it at the last moment.

I'm happy to tutor him. He's a very pleasant boy, and quite intelligent too, but he doesn't spend much time on Maths, outside Maths lesson or my lessons. I don't think he'll do well in his exam (I think Maths needs dedication, not cleverness!). I have already told him parents at least twice that he's not working as hard as he should be. I see him only for one hour every two weeks, and, of the 10 problems I set him, he comes back with 3 fully completed. He undestands things very quickly, but if he doesn't spend time doing extra problems, there is no way he can really learn how to solve A level Maths questions.

I think his parents think I just complain about him. I am not complaining about him at all. It's nice to teach him, and it's nice to get a bit of cash, but I will feel very bad when he fails his exam.

What should I do? Should I tell his parents again? I don't want to tell HIM that it's unlikely he'll pass, as this will demotivate him. And it is possible, after all, that if he starts working hard, he'll scrap a C. But this boy still thinks that A level is the same as GCSE, and I'm afraid he'll be quite disappointed afte his exam.

What do you suggest?

HanSolo Tue 06-Nov-12 22:37:44

He's doing A levels- of course you should tell HIM!

Lay it out on the line to his parents, with him there. He does the homework you set, to a good standard, or the tuition stops. State why- if he does not work, he will not get a decent grade. A Level is nothing like GCSE for Maths!

senua Tue 06-Nov-12 23:53:57

Why did he change his mind and decide to do the A Level after all? Can you find a motivating factor in there? How is he doing in the other subjects?

Alternatively, if he doesn't do well is he going to dent your results?shock Do you want a C grade associated with your tutoring 'brand'.

steppemum Wed 07-Nov-12 00:20:38

tell him he will fail. he is old enough. Tell him if he works hard he may just pass. Outline for him what working hard means in this case (weekly targets, monthly targets etc)

Then feed back to parents what you have told him. I would put it in a letter, so there is no mis understanding.

youngermother1 Wed 07-Nov-12 01:11:20

Of course you tell him - how is he supposed to know if you don't?

Kez100 Wed 07-Nov-12 05:32:30

Yes, tell h

Kez100 Wed 07-Nov-12 05:34:45

Yes, tell him! He is old enough to take control. I wonder if he was pursuaded to take it at A level though - by his parents maybe? Unless he is like this with all his subjects as its just not good enough at A level to not pull his finger out and get the work set done.

Stupidinsomniac Wed 07-Nov-12 05:40:43

Tell him! In words of one syllable!

He thinks a levels are going to be like gcses, because no one has told him (in a way that's entered his brain) that they are not.

mummytime Wed 07-Nov-12 06:03:32

Maybe tell both his parents and him in writing that if he doesn't do more work he will fail.
In your circumstances I would probably say that unless he does a certain minimium I would stop tutoring him.

forehead Wed 07-Nov-12 06:05:12

Tell him. If he fails, that's his business.

LittleFrieda Wed 07-Nov-12 09:31:59

I think you should ask him what grade he's hoping to get at maths. And then tell him what grade you think he'll get if he carries on as he is.

noblegiraffe Wed 07-Nov-12 10:24:55

I'm a maths teacher having similar problems with some of my Y12 who have just handed in an appalling homework that shows if they couldn't remember how to do something they just left it out with no effort to look stuff up. Some have also not caught up on work they missed through absence.

I am planning on giving them a bollocking, and telling them in no uncertain terms that they need to shape up and start working independently, that their first module is in January and they will do badly if they don't.

So hopefully your tutee will be hearing the same from school. A lot of kids seem to think that merely having a tutor is enough to boost their grades, it's all about the responsibility being on other people, not them.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 07-Nov-12 14:58:31

If you are still having to tutor him at A level, will his parents expect you to go to University with him?

bengalcat Wed 07-Nov-12 19:59:49

Of course you should tell him . He needs to know how much work he needs to do to do well . I think littlefriedas point about asking him what grade he expects /would like to get is a good start as it will inform you of his aspirations and how connected to reality he is . My recall of A level Maths was do lots , learn as you go along and then it's easy peasy/challenging .Maybe I'm just a mean old moo but if someone is crap and not putting in the required effort then they need to be told . However you need to know why he's not performing eg what other subjects is he doing , does he really want to do it , is he struggling , lazy toad etc .

bengalcat Wed 07-Nov-12 20:00:45

Of course you should tell him . He needs to know how much work he needs to do to do well . I think littlefriedas point about asking him what grade he expects /would like to get is a good start as it will inform you of his aspirations and how connected to reality he is . My recall of A level Maths was do lots , learn as you go along and then it's easy peasy/challenging .Maybe I'm just a mean old moo but if someone is crap and not putting in the required effort then they need to be told . However you need to know why he's not performing eg what other subjects is he doing , does he really want to do it , is he struggling , lazy toad etc .

theweekendisnear Wed 07-Nov-12 21:42:51

Thanks for sharing your point of view.

I have talked to him about having to work hard, about how important it is to attend any supplementary classes that are offered at school (and I told his mum about these classes too), to do extra work on his own. I told him and his mum that even students that get an A in GCSE Maths fail A level Maths.

A month or so ago, after seeing him for his tutoring lesson, I have phoned his mum and told her that he's not trying hard enough, and that she might be wasting her money with the tutoring. She then told me that she talked to him, and that he's now very serious about working hard. However, he still shows up at my lessons with: no pen, no paper, no calculator! Am I expecting too much? I have asked him to bring his calculator! Maybe I'm not assertive enough? Also, his mum told me that she would be so happy if he managed to just pass the exam, so they are not looking for high grades.

About the homework that I set and he doesn't complete: he says that he has tried, but couldn't do it. For some questions, he just had to look at his notes, or in the textbook, to find out what to do, but he's lazy and wait for my lesson to find out what to do. But he just says he got stuck and couldn't think of what to do.

Maybe I should write a list of things that I expect him to do (bring this, bring that, look at your notes, redo the problems that we have done together and bring it back so I can check that you have done it, etc...), and I should make his parents aware of what he does and doesn't do, but in writing, so I can't be blamed when he fails!

TalkinPeace2 Wed 07-Nov-12 21:49:10

his mum told me that she would be so happy if he managed to just pass the exam, so they are not looking for high grades
why is he sitting maths A level if he does not care about high grades?
do his parents have any idea how competitive it is out there?
is he not planning to go to uni?

noblegiraffe Wed 07-Nov-12 21:56:33

I'm not sure that one hour every two weeks is often enough to have a real impact, I would think weekly would be the minimum as so much material is covered in just one week. Does he need a calculator for C1 btw?

Yes, I would write a list of your expectations and get him to physically tick them off before each session, then start each session by going through the list. If he turned up to your lesson without pen, paper, completed homework etc, could you simply send him away and let his mum know he's taking the piss? Bet it would only happen once!

theweekendisnear Wed 07-Nov-12 21:58:41

He's doing it "just in case". He likes art, not science or Maths. He's doing it just in case he needs it later on in life.

I agree with you on everything, but I think that to them it seems that I don't want to help him. But it's unrealistic to think that 1 hour every 2 weeks will make any difference, if he doesn't spend time working on his own. (already explained this to them, but maybe they think I'm wrong)

TalkinPeace2 Wed 07-Nov-12 21:59:28

then yes, I second noblegiraffe

theweekendisnear Wed 07-Nov-12 22:06:48

noblegiraffe Calculator for C1: well spotted! Actually, we are in Scotland, so it's not exactly GCSE and A level, but the equivalent exams, so for Highers (A level) Maths they are allowed a calculator, and they just have a big exam in May, not 3 modules. (I used to teach A level Maths in England. I miss that so much!).

Katryn Thu 08-Nov-12 15:48:47

Sometimes saying something can help. When my DS was 10, his piano teacher told him he would have to work really hard to pass his Grade 2 piano exam and that if he didn't, he may not pass. I knew he would pass, but thought at that point maybe he would just get a pass as he didn't practice that hard. She was harsh, but it helped him focus, and he practiced really hard, and got a merit, which he was perfectly capable of.

When my DS was doing his 11+ last year, our tutor didn't tell us till the November before the January that was taking it, that all her other year 6 were doing 2 hours a week and maybe he should too, and I resented her for not speaking up earlier. He was a bright kid from a state primary, but he was not at the level required to get into the most academic school he had applied for. He just hadn't had enough practice.

theweekendisnear Thu 08-Nov-12 17:19:09

About going from 1 hour every two weeks to 1 hour every week - yes, it would make sense, but I think they would think that I was trying to take more money from them... However, I don't think doubling the hours would make a big difference. It's very frustrating to explain something, do an example together - all understood and crystal clear to him, then set a similar problem and have it back barely started because "I couldn't remember what to do".

I am thinking of buying a folder and ask him to keep all his work there, and then I'll set the same work twice so there is no excuse about "I didn't know how to do it" (if he has the solutions in his folder, then all he has to do is to look at the solution). However, I wouldn't expect to have to do all this for an A level student. Yes, I really have to talk to him again and very clearly, explaining exactly what is expected etc.

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