Exploring how private one-on-one tutors can connect with their clients and students via online platforms. Tips from classroom teachers for tutors to break through to their existing and new students!
Tips for connecting with students in digital spaces
For many of us, connecting via online platforms has become a daily norm. We toggle between Zoom and Teams, giving lessons to a sea of names or impersonal icons and by the end of the day, we are drained physically and emotionally. One of the most enjoyable elements of teaching, I dare to say the easiest, is forming a connection with students. Finding that bond, that moment where things click and you become a unit ready, is a powerful wave to ride. Even more critical, are the students we work with one on one. How do we build a relationship with a client, especially a new one, through online meetings?
Icebreakers are great for relationship building
Ice breakers are a classic go-to for team-building exercises from workplaces, classrooms to theatre groups. They might be cliché, but they do work! They. Break. The. Ice. Icebreakers have three overarching benefits: community, interaction, and empathy according to Anne Converse Willkomm, Assistant Clinical Professor at Drexel University.
Consider the age group you are tutoring and what might best be appropriate to form a connection with that client. What will set them at ease and make them feel comfortable? Knowing your student on a more personal level and being familiar with their story allows you to cultivate a successful learning environment.
Now that the ice is thawed, transition into your lesson with a warm-up. Activities that engage the student work to bridge the gap and ready the student for learning. For younger clients, this might mean playing a sight word Bingo game or making their name out of Playdough. For older students, you could play a quick round on Kahoot or have them create something on Flipgrid. Just like with a classroom lesson, tutoring warmups help you introduce the theme and focus of your session.
Connect with students through setting mutual goals
Consider ways that you can encourage your own and your client’s growth through the duration of your time together. Discuss with your client and the parents what you hope to achieve. Is the goal for the student to be a better writer, learn a particular math skill, feel more confident as a reader? Set markers and check-ins to note progress.
Remember that when you are working with a client, not only are you encouraging them to learn, you should be as well! Teachers and tutors are always life-long learners. Use Khan Academy along with your student for teacher professional development and mark your progress together! Working on similar goals is an excellent way to encourage and connect with your student.
These are just a few ideas to make connections with your tutoring clients. MTTES educators have a wealth of knowledge to share. Check our archives for the latest tips. Happy tutoring!
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.