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For Educators: Five Ways to Maximize Your Student’s Potential During Tutoring Sessions

Five Ways to Maximize Your Student’s Potential During Tutoring Sessions

By: Mary E. Miele, Learning Specialist K-12 and Founder of the Evolved Education Company

1) Create goals for your work

What goals do you have for your student?

What are the goals for the support program?

In order to create goals with your student and your student’s family, you can ask about the 5 areas of the Evolved Education Paradigm.

What has been the student’s academic history so far?

What is the student’s learning style and what skills does the student need to learn?

How does learning happen at school?

How does learning happen at home?

How is the student developing socially, emotionally or physically; and are any of these areas supporting or interfering with the student’s academic performance?

2) Identify and make use of the strengths of your student

In what situations has your student been successful?

My favorite activity to do with students is called “Magical Moments on the Mountaintop,” a worksheet published by ADDCA.

During this activity, a student describes three events in which they felt they were on top of the world, in one-two sentences each. Then, they describe what it feels like to think back to that “magical moment.” Then I ask the student “What about this moment feels vivid and visceral?”

When tutors are called in to work with students, they are being asked to boost an area of challenge or to prepare a student for a test. By knowing the strengths that a child has and a story of success from his or her past, the educator can use the areas of strength to help boost the areas of challenge.

A few years ago, I was working with an 11th grade student on executive functioning. She had tried just about every type of organizational and planning approach and had not had success with anything. When we did the Magical Moments on the Mountaintop exercise, I found out that she had successfully performed the lead role in a play. We began to unpack how she was able to learn her lines and stage directions and then used those processes to develop strategies to organize and plan the other areas of her life.

A secondary effect of revisiting a moment of success and using that to create strategies for areas of challenge was the enthusiasm the student showed for the new strategies. By associating them with a successful, meaningful experience, the student felt positively about the new strategies and was inclined to use them.

3) Employ the I do, We do, You do Methodology


The goal of each tutoring session is to move a student first from familiarity to mastery with each concept and skill that is taught, and then ultimately to independence with each of these new skills. In the one-to-one setting, there is a challenge in how to accurately assess mastery. This challenge occurs for any number of reasons, but the ones that I have noticed are as follows:

  • A student in a one-to-one setting can be prompted easily and prompting does not mean the student has mastered the concept or skill.
  • Most concepts taught in a one-to-one setting are taught and move toward mastery within a short period of time.   Sometimes, students need more instruction time or guided practice before they can move to mastery. Often, tutors need to move a student quickly toward mastery in order to “get their job done.”
  • Students develop relationships with their tutors and may not be forthcoming about the questions and challenges they have – this is possibly due to a student’s desire to please the tutor or the fact that the student is too closely associating the tutor with an evaluator or teacher.

In order to best move a student toward mastery, it is helpful to employ the “I do, We do, You do” approach. In this approach, the tutor teaches, demonstrates, or models the skill or concept. Then, the student is prompted and guided through the application of the concept or skill. Finally, the student demonstrates understanding of the concept and skill on his/her own without prompting or assistance.


4) Communicate Regularly with Parents and Educators.

Tutoring is a supportive role that is best done in collaboration with a student’s parents and teachers. It is important to understand how learning is happening both at school and at home in order to support a student effectively.

We recently worked with a 7th grade student and learned from her teachers that she was not attending class because she was waiting for her tutor to teach her the needed information. We worked with the teacher and the student to help have better access to information in the classroom. The tutor was able to set up some boundaries around the re-teaching she would provide at home. As a result, the student started to use class time more effectively and the tutor improved the way she helped her student with the assigned homework.

5) Support Yourself in Order to Support Your Student.

The very best cases that I have been involved with have included a team of educators and professionals. These cases have allowed me to run ideas by another teacher when I was developing an aspect of support.

As support programs always Evolve, it is also important that the educator involved with the support change as needed. Often in my work, I begin to work with a student and uncover learning strategies. Then, a subject area tutor may step in to teach using the student’s particular learning style. Later, a student may just need support in how to conquer a long- term project or large exam.

By having professional support and the ability to converse with other types of support education professionals, I have been able to effectively support students as they evolve within their pre-kindergarten time through college career.

If you have any further questions about tutoring or how to use any of these strategies, do not hesitate to reach out to me at mary@evolveded.com. And, if you are an educator who would like to join the Evolved Education team, please send a letter of interest to Gina Rotundo at gina@evolveded.com.