1) Be Frank
Know exactly what are your requirements and be as specific as possible when you are requesting for your tutor. State upfront on the educational qualifications required and whether if you would like your tutor to be one who has years of experience tutoring or you do not mind someone who has less experience but could equally do the job. Of course, depending on your requirements, the rates offered by the tutors commensurate with their years of experience, qualifications as well as reviews from their ex-students. Be realistic on your requirements so that you are not overpaying for the job. For instance, do you need someone who has a Phd qualifications to teach a Primary school kid?
Most agencies will have a standard request form which you would be asked to fill. But do not be shy to demand about any other requirements which are not stated in the form and do ask questions to find out more about the prospective tutors they are shortlisting.
2) Expensive Tutors?
Engaging a private tutor for tuition assignments would typically set you back by a few hundred to thousand of dollars and it could be a long term engagement. You would need to assess and select only the one who gives you the most value for money service and definitely do not blindly select one which is the most expensive among the pack without first understanding the value which they will deliver. High rates certainly do not equate high quality of service and there are tutors who set high rates solely so as to commensurate with their qualifications (read: a Phd student might not be the best ideal tutor). Use the market rates as a starting point as reference and justify that the premium which the tutor charges is indeed value for money by assessing the reviews / feedback given by his / her ex-students.
2) Hear from your friends
So far, a huge percentage of tutors are recommended through word-of-mouth. It matters as you would like to hear from your peers on their service and nothing beats hearing reviews of the Tutor’s service from ex-students, as their reviews would be most neutral as compared to reviews which are readily provided by the tuition agencies (which could be biased). We have previously touched on the topic of why some tuition agencies might not be offering you the best.
While shortlisting the candidates, do check with them on their commitment level for the next few weeks / months until the completion of the tuition assignments. There were instances where tutors need to halt the assignments halfway through as they were required to be posted overseas for an internship, work or even go for an extended long holiday which could last for weeks to months. Disruptions due to the unavailability of the tutors is undoubtedly undesirable and make sure you do check on this before engaging the tutor. A responsible tutor would certainly inform you upfront if they foresee any of such commitments happening during the tuition assignment.
4) Paper Checks
Now that you have selected your tutor, and he / she is here for the first lesson. We cannot stress enough that it is important for parents and students to insist on verifying the tutor’s original certificates against the qualifications which he / she had stated in their profiles. This is a norm and widely accepted practice. If there’s any discrepancy, do inform the agency concerned so that follow up actions could be made.
Tutors who exhibit strong passion and interest in their tutoring career could be easily spotted by the way and methods they used to engage the students. From the basics such as being on-time for tuition, being prepared for the lessons, encouraging the student on difficult questions, showing patience while explaining the solutions, using new methods of teaching to further engage unmotivated students, to using rewards to positively reinforce good behaviour, are just some of the tell tale signs that the tutor whom you have engaged are highly passionate with his / her tuition assignments. While these attributes might not show on the first few lessons as it will take a while for the tutors to understand each student better, a good starting point for reference would be the reviews given by past students and through personal observations over time.
In conclusion, selecting the most ideal tutor takes time and you should not rush through the process. Nothing beats being personally involved in the selection process and no one will know the requirements better than yourself. If possible, communicate with the prospective tutors and let them know about your specific requirements before engaging them so as to prevent any embarrassing moments of tutors not meeting your expectations and having to have them replaced midway through the tuition assignments.
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