1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Students stopping after a single session

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by Bashkemesuesi, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

    I stopped going after an initial probability/stats tutoring session, as a FE student in the 1980s . I think I reasoned away (to myself) the promised help, thinking that I had a lot of work to cover generally and that the specific help was going to be too time consuming - what they now call, I think, 'an opportunity cost'. On reflection, there was a bit of an issue with the tutor's pedagogy, in that I lacked much upbeat feeling for the joint enterprise that was being offered towards the subject - perhaps if I had been more personally engaged in the recruitment that could've been different, I suspect I lacked that 'being tutored' sensibility and my mother finding ad hoc a tutor was symptomatic of that. As a part-time tutor myself I have had a single session only student and some early leavers. They are usually interpreted to be affective filtering, in part in response to my session content/delivery.
  2. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    Thank you frustum for your contrastingly fair, moderate and reasonable contribution. For this reason, I have decided to award you my first "like" since joining the forum!

    You make many sensible suggestions as to what might be up when stuff happens. Indeed, you implicitly agree with me that it couldn't really be a case that I was just a bad tutor for the dropout student. I didn't get the impression that she was a lost-confidence type, and there was never any indication then or since that she was bluffing her way through a session. Obviously if people do that, they deserve no help at all. Meanwhile, the "why did nobody explain it that way before" sounds rather like the reaction I got from the other Y13 student the following day.

    I absolutely agree that the first session is special in the way you describe, and really it should be obvious to everybody from the start - and whenever parents enquire to ask how I will go about tuition, I always say that the first session is getting to know each other so I can help chart the way ahead. As for the "must commit to at least two sessions," sigh - if only people realised that Rome isn't built in a day, and give things time to embed a bit - but alas, there's just no way of enforcing this anyway (unless I start demanding upfront payment for multiple sessions as some here do).

    Meanwhile, interesting to read Armandine2's contribution of a perspective from the other side - anyone else here actually had a tutor of their own when they were students themselves, and could help elucidate some of the issues we've been raising in this thread?
  3. clareturnertutor

    clareturnertutor New commenter

    25 hours a week is what I'd call fully booked (currently have 21 hours per week for September), but depending upon circumstances I might take on more after Christmas. I know some tutors do more than this but I do spend a lot of time outside those hours preparing tutorials, homework, resources, website management, etc.

    I have some daytime students from homeschoolers and abroad where there's a time difference.
  4. clareturnertutor

    clareturnertutor New commenter

    I don't think I said the effort was inordinate. I've had many students come via recommendations and siblings, so the effort is more than worth it. The point is I would not be very successful if I had a passive attitude towards new students.
  5. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    Absolutely, and this is a big part of being a good tutor.

    Before I blocked the OP this morning (I couldn't be bothered with typing replies that they wouldn't listen to anyway), I remember them saying that one of their 1 hit wonders was a Year 13 re-sit student who'd scored E's and U's in Year 12. The feedback from the parent after the session was that the OP had gone too fast with the explanations. But according to the OP, everything had gone fine with another Year 13 student, therefore there's nothing wrong with his teaching and it's all the pupil's fault.

    This is an obvious example of what works for one pupil won't necessarily work for another. I'd hazard a guess that the other pupil was more able and therefore faster explanations worked perfectly fine. However, a pupil with E's and U's is quite clearly struggling and therefore needs adaptation (slower pace, more assessment of the basics, more checking and testing of understanding etc etc)
    elder_cat likes this.
  6. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

  7. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    I have been a tutor as well as a classroom teacher since 1997. (BA Hons and PGCE and former examiner for 10 years). I have been consistently tutoring as well as teaching my subject in a variety of schools. I never advertise, as I get my tutoring through word of mouth. I normally have a 6 month waiting list for new pupils. I usually take 2 or 3 new pupils each September, after finishing with any longstanding pupils after their GCSE exams.

    I have never had anyone cancel after the first lesson. I have often tutored up to 11 pupils a week. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter. You may find some of it useful:-

    1. As a tutor you need to establish a very good rapport with the pupil and each lesson needs to be of a high standard and also enjoyable for both of you. The lesson has to be planned and tracked to check progress.

    2. You need to be to the point and not be "waffling" or "time wasting" as each minute of the lesson is extremely valuable and should not be wasted. You should know exactly what your learning objective and outcome is for that lesson.

    3. It is important to smile and come across as friendly and easy going but strict.

    4. It is essential that you are an EXPERT in your subject and know the exam board expectations fully.

    5. The pupils MUST make good or outstanding progress with each lesson. The pupil must FEEL that they are learning and gaining confidence.

    I suggest you do some really honest thinking and ask why you are tutoring and whether this is something you are good at and enjoy. It isn't usual for pupils to cancel after the first lesson. You may get one every few years, and this should be a rarity rather than a frequent event.

    What are the reasons for you tutoring? Have you got a proven track record? Are you an expert in your field and wish to share your knowledge? Do you like young people? Do you enjoy enhancing their lives with your tutoring?

    Your job is to make a hard subject easy to understand. Parents pay a lot of money to tutors to ensure good progress and that is what they are ultimately needing a good tutor. A good tutor ensures good progress. I hope you can have a think about some of the points I have made to see where you may be going wrong in the first lesson. What do you think might be happening?
  8. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    P.S. I feel I am ALWAYS learning to improve my teaching methods and I also look at brushing up on other subjects as parents sometimes ask me to help out with another subject as well.

    I feel there is ALWAYS room for improvement no matter how good a tutor you are. This is the same for classroom teachers. Each September, schools run CPD sessions for continued professional development for teachers and some have been teaching for YEARS.
  9. adamcreen

    adamcreen Occasional commenter

    Dying to hear about the next OUTRAGEOUS student who stopped coming. B is really keeping us in suspense...
    rehaank and langteacher like this.
  10. dread388

    dread388 New commenter

    [QUOTE="Bashkemesuesi,(i.e. I could easily run a bigger thread on all the plaudits I've had from sensible customers over the years).

    Please don't...
  11. banjouk

    banjouk Occasional commenter

    @adamcreen, I have a feeling that sarcasm will go straight over the Ops head - Life's too short for many more pages of regurgitated "the dog ate my homework" excuses.
    langteacher likes this.
  12. sabram86

    sabram86 Occasional commenter

    I've had this happen to me once or twice recently. There are some common points between them:

    1. The parents did not pay for my details, so there felt like there was a bit of a "taste and see" mentality;

    2. The families wanted success but on fairly unrealistic terms (their sons had to be free from the stress and hard work that goes with academic success).

    I think there is a growing interest in tutoring, but there's not so much commitment to the cost, or the other aspects such as ensuring work is done and an orderly environment for work found. Even peace and quiet seems to be at a premium.

    I have a feeling this year will be a decent year, but there are too many false starts for my liking from fickle families and their fussy offspring.
  13. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    I doubt you would have felt happy about being faced with any of the three cases I've described so far. By the way, an important part of the art of sarcasm is knowing when it ceases to be appropriate; and that inserting it into almost every post amounts to hyperinflating the "currency".

    Meanwhile, back by popular demand (or at least by Gainly's), here is my fourth example. (For the benefit of reference for newcomers to this thread, the first three were described in posts 28, 41 and 53.) The first three were girls, so now here's a boy, whose mum wrote after the session:

    So, on the face of it, the cause looks similar to that for the second case, i.e. "not understanding" during the session (but curiously saying not a word about it when it counted), albeit without the partial self-awareness of its absurdity as demonstrated by the second-case mum). But the interesting new twist here is the bit about the previous tutor. Several times I've found out later on that they'd had another tutor before (which should really have been declared upfront), but not that it was for an older sibling.

    So the first obvious question we ask ourselves is: Why didn't the mum use that other tutor for her younger son too? Evidently she must've quarrelled with him somehow; and now decided that I was even worse so was returning to the devil she knows! Of course, for all I know, there've been other cases where I was the "first tutor" in the saga....

    We are all well shot of ones like this.
  14. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Seems a reasonable guess, or perhaps there was no quarrel but she thought you would be better than the first tutor.
  15. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    Bottom line is, if it ain't broke, why fix it? If the first tutor was okay, why would she look anywhere else? Obviously he was sub-par, at least in her eyes.

    But again, absolutely no excuse for the boy failing to ask me to clarify things and then mum trying to be wise after the event. The time for the fox to say the grapes are sour is before he tries and fails to reach them, not after.
  16. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    Maybe the previous tutor (who they'd been happy with) suddenly became available so they just made up an excuse.

    However I would say that I wouldn't rely on the student to say they don't understand. Keep checking they do understand, preferably by giving them questions on what you've just taught.
  17. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    (1) Then it's a remarkable coincidence that he just so happened to become available in the very week of my single session with them. Cf. the magical way in which extra tuition at school gets laid on all of a sudden straight after I have a single session with, ahem, certain other students.

    (2) Yes indeed it's a good idea - but the fact is, that I've received this same pathetic cop-out even after I made jolly sure to keep asking the student if they understood.
  18. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Possibly, but that would imply she thought you even further sub-par and that is not a judgement I would want to make.
  19. Bashkemesuesi

    Bashkemesuesi New commenter

    and I don't. Instead, I begin to think she's just plain picky, and that a rolling stone gathers no moss. Remember? "There's nothing wrong wit the children, only the governesses", lol

Share This Page