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Community College of Rhode Island

Tutor-Student Relationship

Your relationship with the students you are tutoring is very important. The fact that you are taking a special interest helps them to improve as much as the fact that you are tutoring them. Because this relationship is so important, you should think carefully about the following suggestions:

  • Before you try to tutor your students anything, you must establish yourself as someone who can be trusted. They must feel that you are a colleague who accepts them as they are, no matter what limitations they may have. To show your students that you like them, you will help rather than condemn. You should never give the appearance of a critical tutor by threatening or embarrassing their abilities. Your relationship must be cordial and confidential.
  • You should strike a balance between formality and informality. For example, you can sit at a small table in a comfortable, informal way. However, remember that your goal is to assist the student in accomplishing their academic goals.
  • Share academic difficulties. As any colleague does, you should show interest in their academic concerns, and you should share some of your own relevant academic experiences with them. When students tell you that they can’t do something, tell them what helped you when you had trouble with a subject. Let them know that most people have problems and most problems can be solved. If you sense that they are experiencing difficulties in their personal or home life, suggest they speak to your Campus Coordinator to direct them to appropriate services on campus.
  • Be prompt and reliable. People with problems sometimes mistrust those who are there to help. Both the trust you are trying to establish and their belief that you are taking an interest in them might be shattered if you fail to show up when they are expecting you. If you cannot be there at the regular time, be sure to call your Campus Coordinator send a message at least two hours beforehand.
  • Be careful of corrections. When they make a mistake, say, "Let’s try it again," rather than "That’s wrong." Direct negative criticism is humiliating. Never use condemning phrases.
  • Overlook some of the small mistakes. This is especially important when they are beginning to experience a feeling of success. If you constantly point out every little error, there is the danger that they will no longer want to try.
  • Don’t be too serious. Take time occasionally to break the routine: tell a joke.

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Last Updated: 6/26/15