As teachers, we often have an assigned curriculum—or at least some curriculum expectations to follow. Something that surprised me when I first started to tutor was that I often had to create a plan from scratch for that student to follow. Parents know they want their son to improve in a subject area, or they know their daughter needs help in reading or math. Parents can usually tell that their child is struggling, but deciding a specific plan to help their child improve can prove daunting because they don’t have a background in education. This article will give you specific steps to set goals and create a student success plan to help your new tutee improve.
Assess the tutee’s starting point
It is essential to have an idea of your starting point. If you can access the student’s recent assessment data, you can discuss the results with the student and the parent to determine the accuracy of the results and what they mean for the student. If the student feels that they are inaccurate, or if you don’t believe they are relevant, you can assess again.
As the content area expert, you choose which assessment to give students. Over the years as a reading teacher, I have amassed certain assessments that I like to keep with me, particularly when I am beginning work with a new student.
Knowing a student’s beginning levels of performance will help you determine the best plan and help you set goals for that student.
Determine the tutee’s learning style and interests
Because you get to tailor the learning plan to the student’s specific needs, it is also beneficial to find out how the student likes to learn and what the student is interested in. This will help you set the best learning plan for the student.
Things to consider:
- Does the student prefer to work on paper with a pen? On a whiteboard? On a computer?
- Does the student prefer to sit for the whole session? Or does the student need to move around?
- Would the student rather read fiction or non-fiction? Can you relate what you are doing to their favorite sport? To their personal hobbies?
The more personal you can make the tutoring sessions, and the more enjoyable the sessions are for the student, the more growth and success you will have as you set the plan.
Work with the tutee and family to set the goal
Once you know the student’s starting point and understand the student’s learning style and interests, you should work with the student and family to set an appropriate goal. Consider the SMART goal format: make it specific, measurable, agreed-upon, realistic, and time-bound.
Specific: What exactly are you looking to accomplish? Grow one reading grade-level? Master a specific math skill? Improve a point on the writing rubric?
Measurable: What assessment will you use to ensure that this growth is met?
Agreed-upon: Do the student and family agree to the goal being set? It is important that everyone has buy-in.
Realistic: Is the goal ambitious but achievable?
Time-bound: When will you re-assess?
These goals can help create a sense of urgency and purpose for each tutoring session.
Create the student success plan
Once you know your starting data and you understand your student and her interests, you can create a plan.
- How often will you meet?
- What will you accomplish in each session?
- What materials will you need to prepare?
- Will the student need to do work in between sessions?
Having a clear plan can help ensure that each session moves efficiently toward the goal you are working towards achieving.
Re-assess for growth
Check that all of your hard work is paying off. On the agreed-upon date, re-assess the student to ensure you are making progress. Discuss the results with the student and her family. Celebrate any growth that has occurred, and reflect on what the student has done well to have those results. If the goal was not met, work to determine what student and tutor actions could have caused the lack of growth. Either way, work together to re-visit the plan and decide if or how instruction for the tutee should change to ensure that growth continues.
Need help creating a student success plan? Contact us today.
Natalie Mangrum is the founder and CEO of Maryland Teacher Tutors. She is a reading specialist with a bachelors in elementary education and masters in education. As a parent to two young adults, and prior teacher, Natalie knows all too well the benefits of one-on-one tutoring and coaching for students. Her mission is to ensure that every aspect of MTT is done in a spirit of excellence! She enjoys alleviating the concerns of parents so they can breathe easy knowing their children are in good hands!