Monthly Archives: November 2015

Element #6 of Highly Effective Tutorial: Tutors for All, Not Some

Welcome to Part Six of our “Seven Key Elements to Effective Tutorial” series. These are aspects we’ve identified over our long history of working with students, tutors, teachers, and schools that we believe are necessary for a successful tutorial program:

  1. High Quality Oversight
  2. Professionalization of Tutors
  3. 1:1 or 1:2 Ratios
  4. Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy
  5. Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  6. Tutors for All (not Some)
  7. Leveraged Subsidies for Service

Today’s topic, “Tutors for All (Not Some)” is one that’s incredibly important to us – so much so that it’s our name! So why is a “tutors for all” mindset so important to running a successful tutorial program?

The easy answer would be “because ‘Tutors for Some’ just doesn’t sound as catchy.” The truth, however, is that while not all students struggle in the same way with the same problems, all students do benefit from greater individual assistance while learning. Providing individual tutorial time for all students, not just those who need it the most, positively impacts each student on an individual level and carries massive benefits for the class as a whole.

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No matter where you might lie on the growth spectrum, all of us always have room to improve.

There are four main reasons “tutors for all, not some” is so important to our model.
1) It removes stigma. Students are hyper-aware of how they are perceived by their classmates. If a group of students is singled out for tutoring while others are not, everyone knows that they need help, those students feel self-conscious as a result, and tutorial time risks turning into a space of embarrassment and resentment. By instituting tutorial across the board,  this dynamic disappears. Since everyone is required to attend, struggling students don’t feel singled out for needing help. And even students who aren’t get the chance to further sharpen their skills. In essence, there’s never an end to learning.

2. It empowers teachers to raise expectations. All teachers have faced this timeless dilemma: challenge students who are at or above grade level, or meet the needs of students who struggling to keep up? This question is even more difficult for those working with underserved students, as most students enter their grade several years behind and the question becomes, “Do I teach to the students, or teach to the curriculum?” Tutors for All came from Executive Director Mark Destler experiencing this exact problem and then seeing the transformation that occurred when his students received tutorial. “When my students were well prepared, I was a pretty good teacher,” he noted. “But when they weren’t, I wasn’t – I couldn’t be.” With the addition of tutorial, teachers are able to take that time that would’ve otherwise been spent going over fundamentals and instead spending it doing what they should be: engaging all students in the material.

3. It leverages economies of scale. On a more practical side, ‘tutors for all, not some’ makes more sense not just from an educational standpoint but also from a logistical standpoint.  Certain costs come with establishing any program no matter the size; the more students you have participating, the more you benefit from the resources provided.

4. Finally, it raises up the whole student cohort. Like the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats,” tutorial for all students provides both tangible benefits, like all students being better prepared for class, and intangible benefits. You can’t measure the shift in students’ attitudes as they begin feel more capable, confident, and excited about learning, but you can feel it.