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How to tutor for mastery, not answers

Onine tutor working with a student to understand the content When students struggle with understanding concepts in school they may turn to online tutoring as a way to get additional assistance. Online tutoring is an excellent way to bridge learning gaps for K-12 students. However, it's important to remember that tutoring is about building mastery, not giving answers. If a student asks for answers, online tutors need to know how to get the student involved in the learning process so the session becomes a method of understanding content rather than an answer-giving machine!

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Five best practices for tutoring K-12 students

Online tutor works with students on the computer Online tutors have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of K-12 students. Whether you're working with students who are struggling to keep up with their classwork or those who are looking for extra support to excel, effective tutoring can help them achieve their goals.

Here are five best practices to keep in mind when tutoring K-12 students:

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The Importance of On-Demand Tutoring in Providing Differentiated Instruction

High school student using on-demand tutoring in the classroom

With the additional challenges brought on by interrupted learning, many students lack foundational skills to master grade-level content. Differentiating instruction has long been upheld as the key to addressing these skill gaps. But with an increase in educator shortages and teacher burn-out, providing differentiated instruction is becoming more and more difficult.

The solution to support student learning and educator well-being is a multi-pronged approach that will involve the collaborative effort of resources, programs, funding, and time. On-demand tutoring is a key component to facilitating and supporting differentiated learning within the classroom in order to better support student learning and reduce educator workloads.

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How Does On-Demand Tutoring Fit within an MTSS/RTI Model

On-demand, individual tutoring as part of acting on an MTSS/RTI model

In recent years, many K-12 districts have begun to implement schoolwide prevention frameworks to proactively increase student achievement through the use of academic interventions, behavioral support plans, and robust SEL programs. With the educational impacts of Covid-19 and the widening of skill gaps as a result of interrupted learning, districts are utilizing schoolwide support frameworks to proactively address academic challenge areas and support every student in reaching their individual educational journeys.

These frameworks are referred to as MTSS (Multi-Tiered System of Support) and RTI (Response-to-Intervention). Both frameworks work at a schoolwide level to identify struggling students through a problem-solving, data-dependent approach.

To support these students academically, schools utilize intervention models designed to provide targeted 1:1 academic interventions for struggling students and provide in-class learning support for all students. Tutoring has long been identified as a strong intervention and enrichment tool that is evidence-backed to increase overall student success. This makes tutoring an essential component to any MTSS/RTI framework.

However, traditional methods of delivering tutoring (such as in after school sessions or at a tutoring center) prevent schools from integrating tutoring in the classroom and during intervention times. MTSS/RTI processes occur throughout the school day, so schools need an avenue to provide 1:1 personalized learning support within this framework.

On-demand tutoring, like what’s provided through partnerships withTutorMe, allows schools to seamlessly integrate tutoring into their problem-solving MTSS/RTI frameworks. Let’s consider how this integration occurs in more detail.

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How Can On-Demand Tutoring Increase the Achievement Level of All Students?

Student using on-demand tutoring to pursue their career interests

Historically, tutoring has been seen as a resource primarily for struggling students. Often, schools elect to incorporate on-demand tutoring as a support for students at risk of failing a class or failing to meet graduation requirements. Recent interruptions to education related to the pandemic and falling test scores have only exacerbated this view of on-demand tutoring as an academic intervention.

While on-demand tutoring is a great resource to support struggling students, it’s also an avenue to provide personalized learning to all students. Personalized learning goes beyond academic recovery, to include opportunities for enrichment and individualized instructional support. In a recent EdWeek Market Brief, "The Critical Tutoring Needs of Rural School Systems," Wyoming School District Superintendent Shane Ogden noted that, prior to partnering with TutorMe for on-demand tutoring, his district teachers had to stay after school to tutor students.

These tutoring sessions quickly became more about homework help than about really evaluating the skills students needed in order to grow. His district needed an option that would allow students to access tutoring beyond after-school sessions, without burdening his limited staff with additional responsibilities and stress.

By choosing an on-demand model for tutoring, Superintendent Ogden observed the vast impact that such a program could have on all students, not just students struggling academically.

Instead of focusing on using on-demand tutoring to only support struggling students, districts can leverage this resource to allow for personalized learning for all students, increasing the capacity for student achievement across the board.

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