18 Feb

Building Rapport

Any advice on creating rapport once lessons have already started?

The importance of the first impression cannot be over stated. If the lessons have already started and you made a good first impression then developing further rapport with the student will be much easier than if the first lesson was a little awkward and uncomfortable.
Rapport has a few key pillars and there is plenty of information about it online. Here are some good points.

 

  • Relatedness: People like it when they feel related to. Over the course of your tuition make an effort to identify with the student. If they are going through something that you are familiar with feel free to mention it to them. Especially if it is related to their academic journey. Demonstrate that you understand them – this is an important part of mentoring.
  • For example, if you see they are feeling a little insecure about their maths ability, you can discuss it softly and openly. The truth is that we all feel or have felt somewhat insecure about our abilities, especially in subjects like mathematics. If you share with the student a personal experience of how you felt insecure about maths they will feel more understood, furthermore, they will see that it is possible to learn to be good at maths – you are the proof.
  • Co-operation: Consistently work on establishing a sense of co-operation with the student. They should feel like you are a team working toward a common goal.
  • Including the student in the planning of homework, include them in planning what content you will be covering. Students usually are not accustomed to being treated with this kind of respect and respond to it favourably. Just make sure that you do not forgo homework in favour of establishing a better relationship.
  • Ask for feedback about how they are enjoying the tuition and what else you can do to help them
  •   Discuss their goals. What do they want to happen as a result of tutoring? How can you do more to help?
  • Praise: People love praise and school students are no exception. People are also very good at spotting false praise so make sure you only ever say what you mean. When the student does well, or makes improvements be sure to point it out – make the student feel good about themselves. If the student is always feeling kind of positive when you are around they will eventually associate you with that feeling.

Your tutoring efforts will have most impact on the student if you have a good rapport. Students will learn much better from tutors whom they like rather than tutors whom they are merely willing to work with. At the same time it is crucially important to have rapport with the parents of the student. The student and parents will periodically discuss the progress of tuition and their opinions and impressions of you will rub off on each other. If the parents tell the student how awesome they think you are, the student is likely to respond better to you (unless the student has a seriously rebellious relationship with their parents) and vice versa. The point is that on an ongoing basis you should make an effort to maintain and grow rapport with both the parents and student. This may mean making a phone call every now and again to consult with the parents, ask for feedback about the tuition and offering feedback yourself.
There is plenty more to be said about rapport and this is barely the tip of the iceberg. If you are interested in rapport there are plenty of great books we can recommend.

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