Doing something for the first time can be exciting, but it can also be incredibly stressful, and that includes your first tuition lesson. Whether you're a tutor or a student, it can feel like a leap into the unknown — but you can cut down that uncertainty and stress if you make a few simple preparations.
1. Understand Your Goals and Expectations
One of the worst things, either as a student or as a tutor, would be to spend the whole first lesson trying to understand what's supposed to be happening in the tuition. As a student (or the parent of a younger child), you should know what you're trying to achieve before you hire the tutor. If it's an academic subject, which exam do you need to pass, and what sort of grade are you targeting? If it's something like art or learning a musical instrument, is the aim to pass exams, make a career or simply have a great hobby?
As a tutor, this should be discussed with the student and/or their parents at the time of initial contact. If they don't seem sure, you can suggest various scenarios (making sure you don't influence their choice) to establish their preferences. Then you'll be able to plan a course that will meet the student's expectations.
2. Arrive at the Lesson On Time
Whether the lesson is going to be in person or online, it's important to be sure you're ready to go from the moment the lesson is due to start. If you're using a video platform, make certain you've downloaded everything you need and that your webcam, microphone, speakers and (crucially) your WiFi are in good working order. If the lesson is going to be in person, then whichever person is going to be travelling needs to make sure they set off in plenty of time to absorb any day-to-day levels of delay and still arrive on time. Check that you know the route and for any road or public transport issues, and be sure you have the other person's phone number to let them know if something out of the ordinary has held you up.
3. Make a Good First Impression
It's notoriously difficult to change a bad first impression, so it's important for the tutor especially, but also for the student, to make sure that first impression is the one you'd want. For the tutor, besides being on time, check that you're presentable. How you dress will depend to some extent on the student, but generally smart casual is the ideal style. It's also vital for both tutor and student to show they're organised and ready for the lesson. The tutor needs to have a plan for the course, which is still flexible enough to adapt to the student's needs. The student should be prepared with the questions and problems they need to address, and to generally give the impression of being eager to learn.
4. Have the Right Resources Available
Few things will make a worse impression as a tutor than having to waste time in the lesson searching for the resources you need. These may be books or physical aids, but the chances are they'll be websites or apps, even if the lesson is face to face. Make sure you can access everything you're likely to need straight away, without having to fiddle around. Similarly, if you're a student, check you have everything you might need to benefit from the lesson, whether that's books or websites, or simply a means of taking notes you're comfortable with. Besides avoiding a waste of time, it shows you're serious about learning.
5. Be Prepared to Get to Know One Another
A good relationship is vital between tutor and student, but it's also important for each to understand where the other is coming from. Every student has an ideal learning style, and if the tutor can establish that through interaction during the first lesson, the whole course will be far more productive. Besides this, tutor and student need to be comfortable with each other. The student will learn less if they're tense, while tension from the tutor will be transmitted to the student and reduce the effectiveness of the lessons. For more resources on how to make the most of private tuition, register with TutorExtra — whether you're a tutor, a student or a parent.