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Math Teachers: What To Do When Parents Ask About a Math Tutor?
For many math teachers, parent-teacher conferences involve a discussion about the need for a private math tutor. It’s not unusual for math students to need extra help somewhere along the way to graduation. Sometimes teachers see learning gaps in a student, sometimes a student’s illness means they’re missing needed information, and sometimes students know they’re struggling and ask their parents for a tutor. Parents usually have no idea how to find a good tutor, so they look to you, the teacher.
As a teacher, your first responsibility is to try to help your student during lunch, after school, etc. However, you can only do this for a short time. You have many students who need your time. If it becomes clear that this student needs more time than you can give, suggest other alternatives. If the school’s counseling department offers a student-mentor program, suggest that the child try it. Sometimes this student-to-student relationship can be very beneficial if their class schedules work.
Another possibility is to check the district’s list of math substitutes, as they sometimes like to tutor. However, you, the regular teacher, should make the initial contact to determine the sub’s interest in tutoring, and you should feel fairly confident in the sub’s tutoring abilities before naming the parent. You and/or parents should also check with the math department chair or counseling department to see if they are collecting information from the tutor.
Although it absolutely is inappropriate for any teacher in a school to accept money to tutor their own students, some math departments offer a free tutoring service for all math students. If your department offers this program, please mention it to both the parent and the student. Mention to them that because tutoring is open to all math students, one-on-one time may be minimal.
When school options have been exhausted, it is time to suggest outside options to parents. Parents can contact local schools. Anxious college students often make excellent tutors. Parents can talk to friends, look for ads in the newspaper, and search online. I personally am not in favor of an online tutor because the lack of one-on-one, side-by-side tutoring omits some qualities necessary for successful tutoring. However, sometimes this is the only option.
As a teacher, you should also inform parents about certain qualities and techniques that are critical to a successful tutoring experience for the student, parent, and tutor. It is important for both parents and children to meet and interview potential guardians in person. (The guardian must be willing to interview at no charge.) During the interview, parents and children should ask lots of questions, be aware of body language, and look for the 10 qualities mentioned in the article: “Your son needs a private tutor? Interview with these 10 qualities in mind.” This article will be in the Home and Family/Center section. Remind parents to check tutor references. It is not necessary for the tutor to be a qualified teacher. Teenage neighbors or college students are often excellent tutors, but get referrals if that person is unknown.
Note for the child’s teacher: Once the parent has found a good tutor, you have the responsibility to be helpful to the tutor. If the tutor calls, be as helpful as possible. As you discover new problem areas, let the tutor know directly or through the parent. Also encourage the student. Let him know you care about the progress he’s making.
Note to parents: Finding the right tutor for your child is extremely important and well worth the time, effort and money. The effects of both success and failure last a lifetime. Your child needs you to choose success. If you find the right tutor with the help of your child’s teacher, be sure to thank them for their guidance and give the tutor’s name to both the head of the math department and the counseling department, and share name with your friends. Parents are always looking for good math tutors. Good math tutors are few and far between.
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