A checklist for making a good first impression, Part 3

This is the third and final post about helping tutors get tutoring off to a good start with new students (learners). In parts one and two, we looked at creating a plan for the first session or two to help establish trust, set expectations, assess initial needs, and ask good questions. In this post, we pull these ideas together into a checklist for tutors to use during the first two sessions with students. 

So your first appointment with your student (learner) is just around the corner and you want to make a good impression and get things off to a good start. In the first two posts of this series, we outlined a four-part plan for the first two meetings between a tutor and learner that includes: 1) relationship building, 2) establishing expectations, 3) assessing initial needs, and 4) asking good questions.

We share here a checklist to help tutors cover these points during their initial meetings with the learner:

Day 1

  1. Introductions: Tutors should come prepared with a brief introduction (30 seconds to a minute) about who they are and why they are there to help and ask the learner to “tell me a little about you.” Keep it short…there’s time to get to know each other better.
  2. Ice Breaker: Plan to do an activity that allows you, the tutor, and learner to get to know each other. Ideas include the acrostic name poem, 2 truths and a lie, and the memory game.
  3. Questions or Discussion: The ice breaker will give you some general information but it’s good to follow up with some questions and discussion. What subjects does the student like and dislike? What do you like to do outside of school? What do they want/need help with? How can I, the tutor, best help you? Don’t ask too many questions and don’t probe too deeply–just get a sense of how you can help.
  4. Read Aloud: Bring a few books with you to tutoring that span a range of ability and interests. Pick out three or four and do a quick introduction of each and ask the learner to select one. Do a book walk/picture talk and then get the learner to read aloud from the book. Listen and watch to see what the learner’s strengths and challenges are. You don’t have to finish the book but read far enough to get a good idea of the student’s reading.

Day 2

  1. Ice Breaker: Do another get-to-know-each-other activity. This helps the tutor gain more insight into the learner and helps build trust.
  2. Expectations Discussion: Take some time to talk about tutoring. Discuss your expectations for the tutoring sessions and ask the student what he or she wants and needs from these. Write these down or use the RWS Tutor/Learner Agreement. This is helpful down the road if tutoring gets off track. It is something tutors can refer back to if the learner is easily distracted or often comes to tutoring unprepared.
  3. Read Aloud and/or Begin Tutoring:  In short, get started. Tutors can bring out the book they read aloud during the first tutoring session and have the learner continue reading that or focus on work the learner brought to the tutoring session with them.

Of course, things will vary depending on how much time you have and if the student has an urgent need for help (if so, then spread these initial activities out over more sessions). Be flexible but have a plan.

Here’s a plan a tutor made before beginning tutoring with a new student, Jayden.

This tutor is going into the first meeting with Jayden prepared. The tutor has noted that he  needs to get some materials like paper, markers and books before these sessions. Since Jayden is in second grade, the tutors knows to find books around that grade level with some being easier and some more challenging. Most importantly, the plans this tutor has made will help him get to know Jayden and allow them to establish trust and rapport. That’s a good foundation to build on!

Want to know more about how to get started in tutoring? Check out the Tutoring 101 section of the ReadWriteServe Tutoring website. ReadWriteServe is a program of the Center for Adolescent Literacies at UNC Charlotte.



About bluegrassjb

I am an academic with a love for language, literacy and learning. The focus of my work is on student success at the K-12 and college levels. Outside of my professional interests I enjoy travel, photography and antiquing with my partner and wife. We like to hit the road in our travel trailer with the dogs and when at home party with the cats.
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