3 Pro Tips for Effective Tutoring

At Classical, we prioritize State Test preparation to ensure scholars are mastering skills and strategies necessary to succeed – and feel confident – on these important assessments and beyond. We follow an in-house tutoring program across all grades. In tutoring, whether skill-based or mixed-practice, our teachers leverage these three tips for effective and purposeful instruction.

I. ‘Stamps’ Make Learning Stick

Teachers use ‘stamps’ by naming clearly what scholars must do to implement an important skill or strategy. Stamps highlight targeted reading or math skills as well as work habits. For example, a skill-based stamp sounds like “good readers of fiction pay attention to descriptive words to determine the mood of a text.” A habits-based stamp might be “good readers and writers use text evidence to support a claim.”

Using a scripted curriculum does not mean we shy away from differentiation. There are benefits to predetermining tutoring session stamps based on your group’s needs. As you’re preparing a lesson, you can tweak questioning and structure to best fit what you are trying to achieve with your group. You might modify language in your modeled think-aloud to address a misconception you often see. You might focus more heavily on certain habits your group has demonstrated a need for improvement in. For example, you might review the process of elimination or spend more time working on written response structure. Ultimately you want to steer the ‘stamp’ or takeaway toward your group’s priority goals!

II. Collect and Use Data. Often!

Before tutoring begins each year, teachers use our ‘data dashboard’, which provides insight into all scholars’ performance across subjects, to gather information. Not only does this system provide test scores but standards mastery as well. This helps us to identify the standards that scholars are currently mastering or needing improvement in. This data is used to determine tutoring groups, often grouping together scholars of similar performance levels. This also helps tutors identify where scholars’ strengths lie so that they may leverage them in their small group instruction.

Trackers help teachers maintain a snapshot of performance during all sessions. Trackers include columns that capture data both on accuracy for each question and work habits (e.g., Did they write a complete and accurate main idea? Did they write a labeled equation to make meaning of the problem before attempting to solve?)

Teachers leverage feedback codes to guide scholars as they work or afterward so that they can carry the next steps into future assignments. For example, accurate answers with limited display of work habits should be flagged. We coach into active investment on paper to ensure scholars are being thoughtful as they read and solve problems.

Daily data collection helps teachers get a pulse on how scholars are performing and gives them information to plan for the next day. Collecting data daily might seem daunting at first but it can be done. With system refinement and support from your instructional leadership team, teachers should have the ability to collect and use data more efficiently (e.g., using room layout for purposeful circulation, knowing who to check in on first, based on their pacing).

Lastly, communication about data across instructional staff is critical. Tutors and classroom teachers should stay in contact about what they notice during tutoring and daily lessons, especially if there are concerns to address or strategies that have proven effective for a scholar. Collaboration at this level is important to ensure carryover and alignment.

III. Never Underestimate the Power of a Tight Transition

This may go without saying, but it’s critical for tutoring procedures to run just as smoothly as the procedures occurring across the regular school day when scholars are with their classroom teachers. Tutors must be very purposeful about how exactly they want tutoring transitions to look. For example, choreographing what line up looks like, what materials management looks like, etc. can help make the flow of instruction so much smoother and more efficient.

If a transition throws off instructional start time, it can set a frantic tone or cut into learning time. Sessions are typically 35-45 minutes to allocate for a teacher’s model, guided work, independent practice, revision, discussion, etc. One best practice is to chunk time across lessons to help scholars pace themselves (e.g., 8 minutes to read/annotate a text, X minutes for questions). We want scholars to learn how to self-monitor to ensure they are working at a focused and productive pace. If they struggle with these expectations, there again lies an opportunity for data collection which can inform remediation or support needed.



This post was contributed by Ms. Francis, 3rd Grade Team Leader, and Ms. Emanuele, Special Projects Manager. As a non-CMO charter network, we rely on the thoughts, opinions, and innovations of our staff to move our mission forward and provide an excellent academic option to families in the South Bronx. To hear more from our staff, check out the next post! Or, click here to learn more.


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