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School classrooms vs. private online groups

This month, I have been reflecting upon what makes a great tutor and comparing in-class lessons at school with group tuition online.

As a proud member of The Tutor Association (TTA), I view group tuition as a genuine strength, offering many rewarding benefits to students, in ways that private individual classes can sometimes miss.

In bringing together more individuals at once we can build a shared learning space, offering students the opportunity to enhance their study experience by learning from (and with) others. I’ve mentioned the fact that ‘humans learn from humans’ before in my Tutorful Classes: What Happened? blog post. I can’t stress this enough. Study shouldn’t always be an individual experience.

A brilliant example is the group mind mapping exercise that I sometimes use to start off group class while waiting for full attendance in extract analysis sessions. When asking students to consider ‘elsewhere’ for exam style questions it's fantastic to watch students branching out from their ‘go-to’ ideas by watching the whole group add their ideas in unison. In this way, individuals can tackle more complex concepts by observing others and build connections that they mayn’t immediately have spotted as lone learners. This approach opens up the online classroom experience, bringing in elements of flexibility, receptivity and collaboration to the digital space. It encourages students to investigate, to elaborate, to explore...

Learning collaboratively can prevent studying from going stale. Like adding light bulbs in a circuit, sharing the knowledge can be very powerful. It shares wattage but definitely doesn't dim the overall effect. It enhances it. Making those connections can truly illuminate a topic for individuals who were otherwise struggling to tune in to a given topic. For example, it’s all well and good knowing that your go-to context point for religion in Romeo and Juliet is that, for Christians, self-murder is a sin. But another student’s go-to point, that bearing false witness (lying) is also a sin, can spice things up for a students’ writing. Watching others apply different context points to the same quote encourages students to become more flexible with their writing and layer their understanding and approach to analysis.

Similarly, my continued CPD with TTA is rewarding for both my students and myself. It prevents me from having a ‘go-to’ approach or style as well. It keeps me focused upon the real goals in private tuition and aware of the experiences and requirements that clients want from my services to enhance their educational progress. Some of the key ideas that I have considered this month are:

  1. Teachers really are asked to achieve the impossible in the school setting (delivering quality resources, noticing and charting around thirty students’ comprehension and progress whilst simultaneously leading learning, managing behaviour and injecting the room with infectious passion in real time, every time). It's intense.

  2. Tutors work with the same set of goals and can aid individual tutees' progress in a very direct way. A smaller group does genuinely equate to more time for students to interject, to query and to investigate for themselves without fear of causing disruption to the learning environment.

  3. Tutors are often expected to ‘fill in the gaps’, help students ‘catch up’ and ‘achieve their full potential’ by both boosting the grade and the student's confidence in their academic abilities. However, tutoring in a group setting allows for more than simple study in itself: it encourages students to question, to interrupt, to engage with others in an impassioned - yet respectful - manner. No question is foolish. At no point is it an inconvenience for a silent, burning question in the back of a pupil’s mind appearing in the chat box. Even the tiny ‘?’ comments let others feel less alone in their academic journey.

  4. All educators must illuminate topics for learners, whilst upholding the Professional Standards set out by TTA:

    • Integrity

    • Professional Conduct

    • Knowledge

    • Responsibility

    • Safeguarding and child protection

As TTA states, because ‘there are no formal legal requirements for someone to be a tutor […], maintaining high levels of professionalism is necessary to ensure that clients and students receive a high-quality educational service and feel reassured that this will be the case.’ Every time.

It is very important to me that each student who wants to work on their academic abilities (for whatever and any reason) feels reassured by my services. I want students to be confident that their efforts will be rewarded and encouraged and that I can help them build an attitude of invariable pride in their capabilities. In this, students will undoubtedly have a brighter future...

It was good to take this moment to reflect!

With well wishes,

Canto Cruncher

P.S. Even more new classes are ready for bookings, too! ‘Jacobean Context: Macbeth’ and ‘Elizabethan Context: Romeo and Juliet’ are running from December onward. I look forward to seeing you there!

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