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5 Interview Questions to ask a Tutor

Hello parents, guardians, and self-motivated achievers of education,  

I hope you and yours are well. Choosing the right person to support you or your child's education is not to be taken lightly. I asked myself, how would I go about selecting a tutor? The answer I came up with was: I would conduct an interview. In the spirit of knowing that I have as much to learn from the person I am interviewing as they do from me, I answered the top five questions I have asked or have been asked in my interview experiences.  

1.     What does initiative mean to you?

Initiative means caring about the people around you and not around you. We all can impact each other, beyond natural consequence. The question is, do you care enough to do it? We must understand that we are all a sum of our parts, and what we do, or don't do, will inevitably have a ripple effect. A moment to me is a dot, connected to an infinite number of "dots" from here, there, and on to somewhere. The fact is, what we choose to do will determine what will come. I decide to go above and beyond to impact the moment. If we don't take the time to do what we know we can, stagnation will take hold and create a ripple effect of apathy.  

2.     Tell me about how you have overcome a challenge in your life?

Three lessons that guide me through challenges are: "We can change the world with words," Maya Angelo. The second: "The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers," Juliette Gordon Low. The third: "The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity," Amelia Earhart. There have been many times when I have been at the start of something new or faced with something unexpected. A job, a game, or a personal life change. No matter the challenge, it is with these lessons that I achieve success. Once, it was my first time leading a multi-million-dollar operation. To say it was overwhelming would be an understatement. Thousands of people impacted in every moment by my choices stood before me like a storybook giant. Soon, I realized it was not the giant that I had to tame. Instead, it was my decision-making process, which I must perfect. If I could hone my decision-making skills, then inevitably, the impact on the giant would be beneficial.  

3.     What makes a great tutor?

Before anything else, a tutor and teacher are a good listener and observer. When we listen to our students, we can create an interactive learning experience where the student takes part in designing the educational approach that works for them. Determining if a student is a visual, auditory, hands-on, tactile, or combination learner is achieved by watching and listening. Once this is determined, we can create unique learning tools, exercises, communication techniques, and visual aids designed specifically for the person meant to retain the information. The truth is, most of the time, the learner will give us the answer to what the right approach is; we just have to pay attention. 

4.     What is an effective teaching techniques you have used?

Understanding that we are teaching or tutoring not to achieve a particular task, but rather to empower the individual with knowledge and skillsets that they can apply throughout their life is one of the most effective teaching techniques I have utilized. An effective way to achieve this is to present information in a relatable manner outside in a context different from the subject. If we are trying to teach the concept of addition to someone who loves oranges, a practical approach would be to place two bunches of oranges in front of the learner and ask them how many they have when they push the oranges together in one group. Then, repeat this exercise with pencils, stars, and again with checkers. We show the learner how to apply the concept in multiple situations, not teaching a student to solve a math problem or memorize a formula.  You can apply a concept to multiple situations in almost any field of study. First, make sure you understand the idea yourself, then find a relatable situation or element specific to the person learning. Once they have grasped what is relatable, apply the concept in multiple arenas to expand the student's comprehension. You have now given them a tool that they can use anywhere. 

5.     What qualities do you admire most from a tutor or teacher you have had?

The power of positive reinforcement goes an incredibly long way. Having struggled with reading disabilities as a child, I can remember feeling stupid. It was the ones who empowered me with positive reinforcement, which allowed me to see "I can" instead of "I can't."  The most important thing is following through. When we are challenged, it is the follow-through of our supporters, tutors, teachers, and guides that differentiate the experts from the average. It was the leaders in my life that followed through with good questions, which made the difference.  

I hope you have a better understanding of what I have to offer as a tutor. I will leave you with this last insight into my approach: I lead with empathy, "willingly and gladly standing in the characters of everything," as Mary Oliver taught me. I also know that every problem has a solution. As my Father showed me, it is just a matter of figuring out what works. 

Emily S
Experienced Teachers Aid and Mentor
West Chester University of Pennsylvania
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