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September 13, 2022

Differentiated Support: 5 Tips on Tutoring Students at Their Level

Learning gaps always exist in classrooms. Some students have more advanced skills in certain subjects, while others need more help to keep up with the class. These gaps are natural, but when the pandemic closed down schools across the country, learning gaps widened considerably. This is why differentiated support is necessary to help you tutor students at their level.

Studies show that COVID-related school closures definitely impacted academic achievement, but it didn't affect students the same way across the map. Some students may have slowed down in their learning, while others kept achieving despite the pandemic.

Now, teachers are working hard to get students back on track academically, but they're stretched too thin to provide students with the differentiated support they need. Fortunately, online tutors can help by giving the support students need on a one-to-one basis. Here are a few ways you can tailor your tutoring to meet students at their current learning level.

Leverage live audio and video chat

Opt-in live audio and video chat is one of Pear Deck Tutor's (formerly TutorMe) biggest benefits in enhancing student engagement and learning. Even though you and your student are sitting in different rooms miles away from each other, live audio and video chat allows you to interact face-to-face, replicating the dynamic in-person tutoring experience.

Use live audio and video chat to keep your students engaged with the lesson. As you get to know your students and listen to their responses to your questions, you will develop a rapport that helps them better understand your guidance. This type of individualized learning focuses on specific academic needs. You'll be able to learn where your student is at and work from there.

Avoid making assumptions

You'll probably become aware of your students' grade levels in school. If you have a student attending sixth grade, it's easy to assume that they know all the things you knew in sixth grade or they're at the same level as another student who is in sixth grade.

This is a mistake—do not make assumptions about your students' current knowledge of any subject. Your students could be seeking your help because they don't understand some of the material that most of their classmates already know.

On the other hand, you may get students who aren't challenged enough in school, so they're working with a tutor to explore their own talents and interests.

If you make assumptions, you risk teaching above or below your students' level. More importantly, you risk shaming your students or making them feel frustrated. You should always go into each tutoring session with an open mind. Lay aside any preconceived notions you have concerning your students' learning level.

Ask lots of probing questions

Probing questions help your students think deeper about a specific topic. The answers to your probing questions can help you determine where your students are at in regard to subject knowledge.

For example, if you asked a question about a certain literature passage, and your student gives you a simple answer that doesn't convey much information, you might ask, "Can you explain your answer a bit more?" This type of question should get your student thinking beyond the surface of the problem.

Probing questions help develop critical thinking skills, which is one reason you should use them. They’re usually open-ended, requiring more than a yes or no answer. This can be a great help in drawing your student out so you can hear more of their thinking process.

Check out this blog for more information about probing questions and other effective questioning techniques you can use during your tutoring sessions.

Tutor at each student's pace

Every student is unique, and every student learns at a different pace. Try not to rush a student through your lesson. You want your student to feel confident in their ability to master the subject matter. Conversely, once your student has demonstrated mastery of a certain topic, you should move on so your student doesn't get bored.

As an online tutor, it's your job to support each student's learning pace. Don't make them feel like they're too slow. If you're covering several important points in one lesson, make sure you incorporate some pauses between points.

Ask questions to keep your student engaged, and repeat points when necessary. It's okay to be silent for a few seconds and let a concept sink into your student's mind. Those few seconds of silence could be just what your student needs to digest the information that will help them achieve in the future!

Offer multiple ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge

So far, we've talked a lot about ways you can interact with your students via live audio and video chat. Pear Deck Tutor offers even more ways to collaborate with students. Our Lesson Space includes several collaborative learning tools, giving students different ways to demonstrate their mastery of a concept.

The virtual whiteboards allow students to use fundamental drawing tools to visually work through their problems. You can see how they arrived at their answer by looking at their work.

 Text-based chat gives students the opportunity to prove their understanding of a problem through written word. Combine these learning tools with the live audio and video chat for better insight into what your student knows and what they're having trouble with.

You’re essential in giving students differentiated support

When students cannot receive differentiated support in the classroom, they can turn to Pear Deck Tutor for one-on-one online tutoring.

As an online tutor, you help build the bridge over your students' learning gaps. You have multiple ways to interact with your students on our interactive platform, so you can determine exactly where they are at in their learning.

You have the opportunity to ask probing questions, listen to your students work through difficult problems, and encourage your students to keep learning no matter what their learning pace is. You can truly support each student where they’re at, so they can advance and reach their academic goals.

Are you a subject matter expert with a knack for delivering tailored tutoring? Apply today to join our bustling community of brilliant online tutors.


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Jimmy Brown

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