One of my students is a grade 6 boy suffering from learning difficulties. I’m not sure exactly how to bring up the topic of progression with his mother. I worry that come exam time she will be expecting large improvements but because of his difficulties I think it may be a long term process rather than short term. I want to know if there are any suggestions as to how to bring this topic up with her.
Usually during the first introductory lesson you would receive some indication of the client’s expectations. However, since it is only the first lesson and there is no indication yet how fast the progress will happen parents may not be completely open about their expectations. They may also be reluctant to discuss this in front of the student to spare their feelings.
Discussing progress with parents isn’t something that you should be doing only because you are concerned about overly high expectations. Providing parents with feedback and receiving feedback from them is an important part of the tutoring process and really helps to keep momentum flowing.
Here are a few ways to open a dialogue with the client.
- When completing the monthly progress report, make it thorough and provide your contact details – suggest that the client contact you to discuss the feedback further. Don’t be too negative in the report.
- Give the client a call to discuss the progress or ask them for a minute at the end of a tutorial.
It is always good to get an idea of the client’s expectations before giving them your feedback to make sure that you are not too rough if your feedback is negative but they feel things are going well.
- “I just wanted to have a chat about Jason’s progress …. Do you think the tutoring is going well… Do you find he is responding well to the tuition… Has he complained about anything… Does he seem more confident doing his homework when I’m not there… Do you have any specific expectations about the upcoming test? etc”
Once you know what the client thinks you should tailor your feedback in such a way that their hopes and expectations are not shattered but at the same time be honest about your concerns.
A common way to do this is to sandwich negative feedback between positive comments. For example: “Jason seems to be responding really well, he is attempting all his work and is starting to enjoy the process of actually comprehending the content which is great. I think this initial motivational boost has also clouded just how far behind he is and I’m a little worried that he may not be realising just how much more work there is to do before he is up to date in general but also for the coming test. However, with his continued efforts we will hopefully reach that point sooner rather than later and his confidence is growing.”
Always end a feedback session with a positive outlook of the future. Tell the client what you are doing with the student; perhaps even ask if they can think of anything you can be doing better. What are you aiming to achieve before the next test, how will you do this? What are the challenges involved etc