What makes the difference between a GOOD tutor and a GREAT tutor?
There are a quite a few good tutors out there. Those who show up on time, come prepared with learning resources, and make sure in the short-term and the long-term that the student’s learning requirements are met. Yet, when adults are asked about the teachers who keep the fondest place in their memory, it is never those who simply met what was required of them who prompt the spread of a smile with the mention of their name.

The teachers whom students remain grateful to for years after their lessons are normally people who educated beyond the requirements of the curriculum, who offered something more about how to see the world. Quite a big ask for a humble tutor, you might say! In fact, having pooled the experience of a handful of our most popular tutors, we have recognised a few simple key things that tutors can do to make a bigger difference to the course of a student’s learning.

A consistency of positive attitude and energy 

Our co-founder tutor, Mark MacLaine, says “students shouldn’t be constantly worried about offending their tutors, or feel as if they’re always on thin ice” and that erratic behaviour from a tutor “breeds uncertainty and can cause students to act-out”. If a student can rely on their tutor’s attitude and demeanour from lesson to lesson, then they will feel more secure in the learning environment, and therefore be more likely to push themselves in their learning.


Encourage creativity and a holistic learning experience in all subjects 

While one may associate creativity with subjects such as Art and Drama, however, it is possible to make a very uncreative painting, yet be extremely creative in a Chemistry experiment or a French to English translation. In Mark’s words, “creativity is in fact the ability to make links between seemingly disparate pieces of knowledge or skills that might otherwise seem less than obvious at first”. Indeed, great tutors are not only able to be creative themselves, planning inspiring lessons that stay with the student, but they are able to teach students how to develop this creativity in themselves.


Have empathy and flexibility in every lesson 

Since students learn by modelling behaviours, remaining somewhat flexible in your own lessons can help them develop this valuable life skill. If something you’ve planned is working well, don’t be afraid to continue with it, or if one approach isn’t working, don’t feel that you have to stick with it. Of course, don’t let this change come at the expense of something else that may be vital in your lesson, as with many things the key is balance. If you are diverting from your original lesson plan (having the student complete a different exercise, or explaining information in a different order), just make sure to communicate this to your student. Simply letting them know that you have made a change, and why, can help them understand your reasoning, and thus learn from you in their own studies.

Use a range of teaching styles

A combination of Kinetic, Audial and Visual learning resources and methods is a fantastic way to keep the student engaged and excited about your subject. Whether you demonstrate a mime that explains how chemicals react, a rhyme that helps a child remember how to spell a particular sound, or a drawing exercise that helps make sense of a story’s narrative, by mixing up the way that the child learns (perhaps even noticing that they learn best with one particular type of exercise) then the student is more likely to have fun and to remember what you have taught.


Finally, it’s really good to take stock of your actions at the end of every lesson. Think about what you could have done to make sure you were fair, and also whether everything you got the student to do was effective and necessary for their learning.

Good luck!