Establishing Structure in Group Tutoring

Question: I am a new volunteer tutor at a group home in Monrovia. The location currently only has 2 tutors to 8 students who go in only once a week. My questions are:

1) How to manage time better to help as much as I can when there are potentially 7-8 students who may need homework help? I have had at each session 1-3 students who need help during the entire time I am there.

2) How to establish a more structured tutoring session? I’ve had difficulty trying to balance 2-3 students at the same time asking for help on very different subjects (math and history for example). We end up doing the homework together, but it’s not really helping them learn to do it on their own. I am afraid they will become dependent on waiting for us to do their homework and not do it in advance on their own.

Whenever I have to tutor multiple students simultaneously, I always have the students work on the problems that they could complete independently without my help. If a student says they can’t complete any of the homework on their own, encourage them to choose one problem and just try their best to solve it. I always tell my students that it’s better to try and get the incorrect answer rather than not try at all.

Once all the students start working on their homework, first help the student that seems to be struggling the most. Work with them to solve only one of the problems and see if they have any questions. If they don’t, then have them solve the rest of the problems on their own. After working with the first student, find another student who is struggling. Continue the pattern of showing students how to solve one problem until you have visited everyone.

Remind students that you will try to meet up with each of them for a few minutes, but let them know that they should be working on their homework so you can see their thought process and best figure out what they need to work on. I also tell them that if they just wait and don’t try to complete their homework, then it’ll be harder for me to help them; it’s easier for me to help if I see their work when they solve problems.

If students have similar kinds of homework or are learning similar concepts, then you can teach them simultaneously. Students can also work together in pairs or small groups. The goal is to encourage students to try and solve the problem on their own even if they are unsure about how to approach the problem. It’s definitely a challenging situation to tutor multiple students, but it’ll be easier for you to identify their academic strengths and weaknesses as you continue to tutor them. The better you know their academic skills, the easier it’ll be for you to manage your time and help out more students.

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