How to Communicate Effectively with your Tutor
Productive communication is a two-way street between you and your tutor. However, when discussing your schedule, homework, grades, or progress, there are certain steps you can take to make sure that you are getting the most out of your academic relationship. Here are just a few tips for keeping your conversations and written communications worthwhile.
Be honest about your needs
When working with a tutor for the first time, many students find it difficult to step out of their comfort zone. Discussing your shortcomings and areas for improvement can be difficult, especially if you are shy or inhibited around other people. Some students are tempted to avoid the subject entirely, focusing instead on their positive traits and strengths.
However, without an honest discussion about weak spots, real progress cannot be made. Tutors can evaluate your needs objectively, but they also require your self-assessment to better assist your studies. So, you must be willing to speak openly about your problem areas to achieve the best results with your tutor.
Learn to accept constructive criticism
Let’s face it, even for people with thick skin, criticism can be tough to handle. Nobody likes to be told that they need improvement, but the simple fact is that nobody’s perfect and we all have our weak spots. When discussing your progress and abilities with your tutor, remember that they are there to help you. They will only point out your flaws in order to identify them, so that they can be fixed later.
However, tutors must also be respectful of your feelings. Any good tutor knows that harsh criticism is not conducive to productive learning and can even be detrimental to a student’s self-esteem. If you feel that the criticism is undeserved, discuss it with your tutor. Sometimes they are keyed into aspects of your study habits that you may not even be aware of, so talking about it can help you learn and grow.
Be clear and concise
Whether you are setting your schedule or discussing the specifics of an assignment, it is vital to focus on details and communicate clearly. Being vague only hinders progress and makes it difficult for your tutor to understand your needs and approach your studies effectively. When speaking with your tutor, first make sure that you have all the information. If you need to set your schedule, ensure that you know when you are free and identify possible conflicts in the future. When evaluating your assignments, write down questions or issues that you have, so that you can remember to bring them up later with your tutor.
Discuss your goals
It is difficult for a tutor to discuss your progress if there is not a clear plan for your academic future. When discussing your goals, make sure that you understand what you are looking for in a tutor. Maybe you want someone to improve your knowledge in a given subject, or maybe you need help preparing for a major exam.
In either case, you need to understand your own needs so that your tutor can help you out. Make a list of goals and set a timeline. You can do this before talking with your tutor or ask your tutor for help with developing your list. Once you have your specific goals in mind, set milestones along the way to help track your progress. Make sure to keep your tutor informed about your milestones so that neither of you feels out of the loop.
It may seem obvious, but respect is the most important factor when communicating with your tutor. Having an open, respectful dialogue creates a positive atmosphere in which to learn, grow, and foster a positive relationship. Constructive criticism does not need to get in the way of respect either. If you want your tutor to do something differently, approach them and make your concerns known. Similarly, if your tutor believes that you would see more progress by changing some of your study habits, be willing to listen to their concerns.
Tutors are trained to be attentive listeners and effective communicators. They are there to help you with your studies and guide you toward a more successful future. As long as you keep these communication tips in mind and coordinate your studies effectively, you will be able to have a constructive and meaningful relationship with your tutor.