Advice sought from tutors/those who have had a tutor please

(22 Posts)
decisionsdecisions123 Sat 23-Jan-16 16:12:30

Today was the first meeting with a tutor for one of my sons GCSE's. I was really looking forward to the meeting as the teacher sounded perfect; qualified teacher working in Year 11, teaching the same syllabus that my son is working with.

Within a couple of minutes of her opening her door I felt unfriendliness but hey ho, lets continue. Within 5 minutes of sitting down I felt quite uncomfortable. She said things like 'I will be strict with you and you may not like it but that's how it needs to be, I am not going to be here to spoonfeed you, you need to know exactly what it is you want to get out of this and put enough effort into it, don't look at your mum for answers you should know this yourself... Why are you chewing gum? Stop it. (My fault, I gave it to him minutes before so his breath would be fresh for her!) If I feel that this is a waste of time I will just tell your Mum and we will stop the tutoring, I'm not saying you will be like that but I've had students who arent putting the effort in and I just stop the tutoring as its a waste of everyones time. Dont think that you can just come to me for an hour a week and get a good GCSE because you wont'. And so on and so on. I didn't dare to open my mouth until 20 minutes in when she asked me if there was anything I wanted to add. I tried to give my thoughts on why he needs some help but I was cut off quite often by her. It wasn't just what she said, it was the way she said it. I really felt like I was back at school and getting told at the beginning of the year by a strict teacher exactly how things were going to be. I don't know if she sensed how ill at ease we were both looking because she started to drop in the odd smile here and there and said she was sure he had positives etc etc but the first 5 minutes had already put both of us off I think.

I left them to it for half an hour after this and went for a walk there was no showing me to the door, nice to meet you type chat she just went to the table with my son and pretty much turned her back on me, leaving me to make my own way out of her house.

When I met my son after I of course didn't show what I had felt and waited with a big smile and asked how it went. Of course he didn't like her at all and pretty much said my thoughts. He doesn't want to go back to her again ( I cant say I blame him) but I haven't said anything negative, only encouraging words about how helpful she will be.

Is this normal? I ws hoping for someone friendly and encouraging. I cannot see any one else advertising that looks suitable. Do I just try and get him to go another couple of times and see what happens, maybe she will lighten up a bit? I would hate to try and learn in such a tense environment. Surely everyone does better when things are more relaxed?

I guess what I am asking is, those of you who tutor, do you come across as the strict teacher so they know there is to be no slacking/messing around? Those of you who have had tutors, how was your initial meeting with a tutor?

Sorry for the rather lengthy post and thanks for reading!

noblegiraffe Sat 23-Jan-16 16:15:20

Perhaps she got the wrong idea about why you wanted a tutor? I have to say she sounds exactly like what some Y11s need. Did you not speak to her about what you were hoping for before hiring her?

decisionsdecisions123 Sat 23-Jan-16 16:26:13

Yes, maybe that was the case. I had simply told her that he was predicted a C grade and gave her the specifics with regards to what he had achieved in past exams and said that I hoped he would maybe be able to get a B or at least make sure he is secure in getting a decent C grade. I mentioned nothing about attitude to learning/what he was struggling with. This was through email. The meeting was to see what he needed help with and how he could be helped.

crazycatguy Sat 23-Jan-16 16:29:56

I tutor in North London. I find mostly kids that need tutoring have teachers at school exactly like the tutor you've hired. If I'm in someone's home, their behaviour rules are sovereign, not mine.

I'm academically rigourous, my students get excellent results, but one to one tutoring requires a certain form of relationship building to succeed that is unique to the situation. Your tutor seems not to realize that.

decisionsdecisions123 Sat 23-Jan-16 16:35:29

Exactly crazycatguy. I did feel that the teachers were overly strict in his school. Yes, I understand that you need rules to control in a large secondary school but my son said on the way home that his teachers used to be like her and everyone was always getting into trouble. Since the middle of last year he felt they started to become less strict and says the students became better behaved. His behaviour has certainly improved a lot since that time.

The tutoring would be at hers not ours.

crazycatguy Sat 23-Jan-16 16:42:06

I've never tutored at home and I stay at school very late when I can to avoid the situation of my house being an office.

With 32 kids in front of you, the relationship is with the class as an entity where teachers whose lessons are pure behaviour management treats each kid equal to the worst one. Tutoring is supposed to be so different (and oftentimes not cheap!) - more of an efficient working relationship where your child is a human with interests and loves and hates as opposed to a face in a crowd of walking statistics.

PurpleDaisies Sat 23-Jan-16 16:46:48

I'm private tutoring full time now. When I was in school I was super strict. Now I'm smiley, friendly and non-scary. Most of my pupils are motivated anyway but for the ones that aren't being harsh and strict at them just makes them resent you. If all you threaten them with is "I'm not coming any more" they might actually quite like that. I find the best way is to be more like a coach where we're working together to help them get the best grade possible/stop their mum nagging/prove their class teacher wrong about only being able to get a C.

As decisions says, it's all about relationship.

crazycatguy Sat 23-Jan-16 17:04:14

Ah purple, how do you manage full time? Always thought to but then it'd be all post 4pm?

decisionsdecisions123 Sat 23-Jan-16 17:10:26

I would have preferred it to take place at home so I can sometimes hear what's happening and get a feel for if its working or not but it was going to be even more money and I just couldn't afford it.

indigo88 Sat 23-Jan-16 17:12:42

Sounds awful. Find someone with some humanity.

crazycatguy Sat 23-Jan-16 17:20:44

Some tutors do seem to have a 'travel charge', which I, personally, never would. I don't expect school to pay me for commuting, and I can claim back some of the costs through tax declaration.

Give it 2/3 lessons total and if still not working, find another - depending on subject they're generally plentiful.

BoboChic Sat 23-Jan-16 17:22:52

Dreadful. The very last thing any teacher or tutor should do is give children/the child a ticking off as a starting point.

BoboChic Sat 23-Jan-16 17:23:45

I agree with Purple - the tutor relationship only works if the tutor and the child enjoy being together.

PurpleDaisies Sat 23-Jan-16 17:24:18

When I say full time I mean I don't work at school at the moment so this is my only job. I do about 18hours of actual tutoring plus planning, marking and travel. I have a lot of a level students with daytime timetable gaps and the gcse ones start from 315pm. My subjects are maths and science so there are no shortage of willing victims. I started after getting glandular fever and at some point I'll probably go back to school but it really is a great job.

kjwh Sat 23-Jan-16 17:48:27

Fairly basic teaching method really isn't it? Lay down your ground rules at first to establish authority and what's expected and then you soften as time passes. It was certainly fairly standard back in my days of being at school, and my son has certainly said the same of most of his teachers when he started secondary. I think it's easier than to let things slide by trying to be everyone's best friend and then having to backpeddle to restore ground rules when problems arise with kids taking the mickey by not doing what they are told.

My son had a tutor for a short time as a 10 year old and my OH was really put off by his abrupt manner on the phone (made it sound like a favour to take on my son) and the first session was also fairly strict. He made it quite clear that the sessions would end if the homework wasn't completed on time or we were late or missed sessions. But in the end, the guy was brilliant, very nurturing and my son was genuinely sad when the sessions came to an end.

decisionsdecisions123 Sat 23-Jan-16 19:31:48

I'm surprised at how sad I am over the whole thing!

GasLIghtShining Sat 23-Jan-16 21:09:56

The only time I met the maths tutor (retired teacher) my DD had was when I needed to ask if he had any jump leads. I asked around for a recommendation and his name came up a number of times and once my DD started going she was happy. He was very much lead by what the students wanted to go over so she covered what she felt she needed to know which certainly helped with her confidence

littledrummergirl Sat 23-Jan-16 21:17:05

My dc had a tutor for 11+. Very strict, told them how it was and only communicated with me the support I needed to give them at home.
They all thought she was great and I miss popping over sometimes to see her.

Seriouslyffs Sat 23-Jan-16 21:21:35

She sounds appalling.
Setting such ground rules, starting hard to be able to soften later is old fashioned but effective when managing a large class, but really inappropriate 1:1- in fact it suggests she's going to deliver a 'one size fits all' curriculum whereas what you want is tailor made content and bespoke teaching style.

I'd sack her and tell her why.

crazycatguy Sat 23-Jan-16 21:25:23

Tutoring is distinct from school, though. You also have direct parental support. The approach is different as there is something wrong with what is going on at school (otherwise there is no reason for us to be there!). The all guns blazing is isolatory in private tutoring. As in school, parents are your immediate and strongest source of support. Unlike school, we get to meet the parents after each lesson. This alone has always been enough to ensure discipline remains.

cressetmama Sun 24-Jan-16 14:04:06

We use online tutoring as we are rural and it's much easier. Currently working with two undergraduates for Maths, and planning to trial another for A level Physics. DS works pretty hard and it keeps him up to the mark with the right amount of hours of private study. The mood is fairly intense but relaxed and friendly.

OurBlanche Sun 24-Jan-16 14:13:00

There are 2 basic types of tutor:

1. The type who shows their human face, invites the tutee to relax and discuss their issues and spends time reassuring them and bolstering their self esteem and identifying strengths and weaknesses, bolstering the latter.

2. The type who makes it very clear to tutee and parent that there is only 1 way to get the full benefit of the tutoring process and that involves the tutee accepting that they are the only ones who have any control over how well they do. Parental input is not required as they are not doing the work. Excuses/explanations are not required as a the front door equals the line drawn under everything that has gone on before.

Both can achieve excellent results. Which is best for your DC mainly depends why they need a tutor.

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