Why match tutors with students intentionally?
If your program’s Tutor Consistency is Consistent, then each student’s experience of tutoring sessions will be shaped by the individual personality and instructional style of their tutor. Thoughtful and intentional pairings significantly increase the odds that a student will feel engaged with their sessions and supported by their tutor. A good student-tutor match helps students build strong relationships with their tutors and find motivation to reach their learning goals.
Key Considerations for Matching Tutors with Students
- Use Accessibility Data along with tutor subject area expertise, availability, etc. to inform matching and to narrow down the tutor options you present to parents, students, etc. Match students with tutors whose instructional styles and strengths suit their learning styles and needs.
- To avoid pigeonholing students (or tutors), consider rotating through several different possible matches early on in the program to see what actually works best before settling on a consistent pairing. Initially trying out different student-tutor matches can help all decision-makers involved in the process make more informed decisions about whom to match and why.
- People change over time. Programs with a long duration (i.e. months, not weeks), should regularly gather feedback from teachers, parents, tutors, and (above all) students to assess the ongoing suitability of the match. If a match isn’t working, identify why not, and consider re-matching the student with another tutor if necessary.
Strategies for Matching Tutors with Students
Use the table below to consider the benefits and drawbacks of various strategies for matching Tutors with students.
|Program uses matching criteria||
Programs can decide on criteria that they will use to match tutors to students. Examples might include shared identities, interests, strengths, challenges, subject area expertise, schedule, etc. Tutors and students fill out surveys based on those criteria, then the program suggests the best match. Programs may choose to use accessibility data to match students with tutors whose instructional styles and strengths suit student learning styles and needs.
|Student chooses tutor||
A foundational goal of tutoring is cultivating students’ sense of agency and investment in their own education: giving students an opportunity to choose their tutor does just that. However, students need guidance and support from adults (e.g. parents, teachers, etc.) to help them make informed choices. Students should be coached through identifying what type of tutor may be a good fit and be able to read about tutors’ backgrounds, watch introductory videos from tutors, or “shop around” by working with several different tutors before making their choice. It is important to be prepared for a student’s sense of loss if they do not receive their first choice tutor.
|Parent chooses tutor||
Parents often know their children best and can be well-equipped to select a tutor who will be a good match for their student’s personality and learning needs. Parents should be able to read about tutors’ backgrounds, or even talk to or interview tutors, before choosing a match. A drawback of this approach can be that parents may choose a tutor that will be a best match for their strengths, personality and needs, rather than those of their child, or pick a tutor that they think will best address a perceived deficit of their child, without considering their child’s strengths and similarities with the tutor. Tutoring programs in which parents choose tutors should educate parents on the criteria for a strong match, as well as encourage parents to involve their child in the process.
|Teachers choose tutors||
Teachers spend the most time in the classroom with their students and thus may have invaluable insight into the tutor qualities that would make for a successful match with any given student. Especially later in the school year, teachers can leverage a clear and rigorous understanding of each student’s personality and academic needs to pick an informed match. Similarly to parents choosing tutors, a drawback of this approach can be that teachers may choose a tutor that will be a best match for their strengths, personality and needs, rather than that of their student, or pick a tutor that they think will best address a perceived deficit of their student, without considering the student’s strengths and similarities with the tutor.
|Tutors choose students||
Depending on their training and experience, tutors themselves may be able to identify what students they will work best with. This decision could be based on student academic or personal needs, student age, personality, or interests. Just as students or parents would need information about potential tutors, tutors will need student data to make informed choices.