Tutors are great resources if you need to catch up, clarify, or supplement your learning. They can tailor subject matter to your learning style, break down concepts more than your classroom teacher, suggest resources you may find more useful to your particular goals and needs, and even help you when you’re advanced in the subject and need a new challenge. Tutoring may supplement your education whether you are in a class or self-taught. But there are a few things tutors do not, or at least should not, do.
Tutors are not there to do your academic work for you.
A tutor’s job is to teach you how to do the work in the class, not to complete the work for you. Never approach a tutor with a test or a quiz. This is no different than copying answers from someone else in class, or having a friend take your online test for you.
Your tutor is not your editor. They may suggest that you go over your paper and re-edit it for grammar, but it is not their job to sit there and fix all of your mistakes for you. They may suggest you add more detail on a certain subtopic. You still need to find and add that detail yourself.
They are not your research assistant. If you are struggling with research, your tutor will suggest places to find the sources you need. A tutor may go over your notes or your sources with you, and discuss the material. They will not compile a list of sources for you. Discussions with tutors are meant to generate ideas for your work. They are not discussing your topic with you so you can write down everything they say and insert it directly into your paper.
Unless the tutor is employed by the university or school, they do not have access to your syllabus, your teacher’s lectures, or your assignment instructions.
Taking a specific assignment to a tutor for help is perfectly acceptable. But if you are going to expect help on a specific assignment, you need to provide the directions, and any notes from your classroom instructor as well. An independent online tutor has no way of knowing that the person who teaches your English class offline at the community college in your hometown expects you to use at least four sources for each paper, or doesn’t want you to include a counter argument paragraph for this unit, unless you either provide them with a copy of your directions or notes, or tell them. Make sure they have this information at the beginning of your lesson. Showing up with a vague request, letting them help you for fifteen minutes, and then suddenly announcing that you need to complete the assignment according to certain requirements only wastes your time, the tutor’s time, and your money.
Tutoring is not childcare.
Childcare workers and tutors have completely different jobs. Your childcare provider or program may offer homework help or learning activities, and your tutor should provide a safe, healthy space for your child to learn, but the tutor is not there to save you a trip to the daycare center, or give you time to run errands or finish up at work. Tutoring is intended to meet needs related to academics and learning. Group activities, meals, snacks, exercise, and entertainment may be provided for your child through some tutoring programs, but this is not true of all of them. Always ask rather than assume.
Never leave your child alone at home in front of the computer with an online tutor, reasoning that the person will watch them. They can’t. The online tutor has no way to monitor anything they can’t see on the webcam, or step in during any situation that may come up offline in the house while you’re away. Your child will still be home alone.
Your tutor is not your therapist.
A good tutor will listen to your academic struggles in their subject, and help you work through solutions. It is absolutely appropriate to share frustrations with learning a new type of citation, or dealing with a classroom teacher who does not seem to care that nobody understands his lectures, or trying to learn a quickly evolving subject with an outdated textbook.
But the tutor is not there to provide mental health care, even if the tutor is a licensed mental health professional doing some tutoring in Psychology or Social Work on the side. If you know, or suspect, that a serious mental health problem is impacting your learning, make an appointment with a licensed mental health care provider who will accept you as a client of their therapy practice.
The tutor is not there to enhance your personal or social life.
Sometimes, friendships, even romantic relationships, develop between adult tutors and their adult students. As long as everyone directly impacted by the situation is an adult who fully consents to whatever type of relationship that may develop, it is nobody’s place to judge. This does not mean the tutor agreed to work with you because they really want to go out with you, flirt with you, adopt you as their new sibling, or fix you up with their best friend.
Behave as you would if you were hiring anyone else to provide a personal service. You wouldn’t just assume your hairdresser or the sales clerk who helped you find the right shoes to go with an outfit you bought would want to meet you for a drink or join your squad at the club tonight. Approach the tutor in the same way.
And just like any other service, it is perfectly reasonable to refuse to rehire a tutor, continue with a program, or even end a session immediately, if it is the tutor who is doing something unprofessional or making you feel uneasy in any way. It is also perfectly acceptable to politely refuse to rehire a tutor who just isn’t suited to your learning needs. Between local programs, individual tutors in our community, and online tutoring services, there are plenty of tutors to choose from. Don’t be afraid to search for the one that’s best for you.
Online tutoring is a service provided by Artist Cafe Utica. The site owner/writer does independent writing tutoring through the website “TutorMe.” This site functions like an Uber for online tutors. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the facebook post where you found the link to this article for more information or to arrange tutoring.
by Jess Szabo originally published on Artist Cafe Utica www.artistcafeutica.com