8 Most Common Mistakes New Tutors Make, and How to Avoid Them

To be a tutor in Singapore, you definitely need to be good at the subjects you are teaching. However, subject matter expertise is not all you need to be a good tutor. Tuition is a service, and there are a lot of aspects that tutors need to take into account. Here are the 8 most common mistakes new tutors make and how to avoid doing them:



1. Not being strict enough


One of the most common mistakes that new tutors make is not setting up clear boundaries with their students. It is important to be friendly to your students, this would make them feel comfortable around you and can accept your guidance well. However, being too friendly could cause issues in the long run.


A conducive atmosphere during the lesson is needed to make sure that students can be receptive to the lessons. To achieve this, a lot of new private tutors would let the students treat them as a friend. But you need to keep in mind that as a tutor, you need to set the rules and boundaries. If the conversation becomes too personal or too far off from the topic, redirect it back to the planned schedule for the lesson. You can be friendly, but not so much that it affects your students’ performance.


It is good to connect with your students, but do remember you are hired as a professional tutor, not as their friend. Their parents trust you to guide these students to improve academically, and you need to make sure to meet their expectation of you.



2. Not personalizing lessons to each student


As a private tutor, you have to plan for the structure of the lessons. Your responsibility includes analysing your students’ needs. Find out where your student is weak at and tweak the lessons to help them improve in these weaker areas.


You need to remember that each student is different. What works for one student may not work for another student. You need to personalize your teaching approach for each student.

Do have a plan for the structure and goals of the lesson, but be flexible when needed. If your student needs to spend more time on a certain section or topic, do take the time needed.


3. Not communicating enough with the parent (and student)


For new private tutors, some of them may feel that communicating with the parent is hard and choose to avoid it completely. This should not be the case as parents are concerned and would like to know more about their children’s improvement. Not communicating with the parent may cause them to lose confidence in you as a tutor.


Do spend the time to build rapport with your students’ parent. Give them regular updates about how the student is doing, the student’s weakness and how you plan to help.


There is no fixed guideline on how often you should give these updates. It depends on the student/parent. Some students that are quite weak and need more guidance may need updates every week. While some students that are quite disciplined themselves may need less. Some parents are also quite busy and may not want updates too frequently if there is no need to.



4. Overpromising results/improvement


When you would like to engage new potential students, new tutors may want to promise good results/improvement. However, do not overdo it. As already mentioned, each student is different. What works for one student may not work for another student.


Instead of overpromising them, do let them know that academic performance is not affected only by having a good tutor. Students also need to put in the hard work to ensure this happens. Inform them that you also have certain expectation from your students to achieve positive results, such as doing assigned homework and not being distracting during lessons.


If you have past students that successfully improved by following your guidance, it would be good to show them relevant testimonials as well. This could make the parent and student be more confident in your tutoring.



5. Not being punctual


The lesson timing is an agreement between you and the parent/student. If you have promised you are coming for a lesson, you have to ensure you could come instead of rescheduling. Of course, here we are not talking about unforeseen circumstances such as if you fall sick on that day or if there are emergencies. However, in other circumstances, you should always show up when you have agreed to and be punctual as well. This would show the parent and students that you are committed and responsible.


Most commonly for full-time tutors, it happens because they schedule lessons back to back. And there may be unexpected delays such as traffic, student coming back late (and starts the lesson late), last-minute changes by other students. Hence, planning enough time between lessons is crucial. This extra time acts as a buffer in case there are delays such that you would not be late for your next lesson.



6. Lack of the ability to teach


As mentioned at the beginning of this post, subject knowledge is important but not the most crucial thing as a tutor. It is about how much progress your students could make after they follow your guidance.


As a new tutor, you may not have the best teaching skills yet. But this will come with more practice and experience.


Back to our earlier point, as a tutor, you need to be able to connect with your student to best get them to improve. You would also need to pay attention to the attitude you project during lessons. It is important to show the attitude that is supporting the students’ progress.


Don’t be too boastful or too proud, as students likely would not be too keen to learn from someone with such an attitude. Do remember, It is not about how much you know, but how much you can transfer this knowledge to your students.



7. Always ending the lesson on the dot


Although private tutors are paid by hourly rate, it is important to not always end your lessons on the dot. Do stay for extra minutes needed to complete the chapter for that day, to answer another question student may have, or to wrap up on the lesson properly. Because at the end of the day, we are here to make an impact or to help to achieve the goal to make the student improve.


Your effort would not be wasted. Parents and students would see an improvement in the result. And they may even recommend you to their friends and families. This will help you in the long run, to get new students as word-of-mouth marketing is very important.



8. Starting with a high rate


Lastly, for new tutors that do not have much experience, it is important to set a suitable rate for the lesson. When you are starting your tutoring career, instead of only considering the monetary value, you should consider this as a valuable experience as well. As you improve your skills, you could slowly increase your rate to a more suitable range.



These are 8 of the most common mistakes new tutors make and some of our suggestions on how to avoid making these mistakes. In general, these mistakes stem from a lack of experience.


So make sure to avoid these mistakes and all the best to your journey and growth as a tutor!


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