I am not getting a good response from one student; she openly resents having a tutor and is passively aggressive toward me. She is rude and does not complete the homework I set for her. I have tactfully picked up on her rudeness and explained to her how I can help her academically. I have discussed the attitude with her parents, and they support me 100%. She has convinced herself that she does not require a tutor.
That sounds like a challenging but engaging situation.
The first thing you probably need to do is work on yourself to make sure that you are comfortable in the situation and not taking things personally. Often when students are forced into tutoring by their parents they will resent having to do the tutoring and sometimes pass that feeling onto the tutor as well. This is especially common during the rebellious teenage years. Decide if you want to help this student and break through to them, if you do then prepare yourself for their attitude and make sure you don’t take their disrespect personally.
From here you should try to understand the student’s reluctance. Why does she not want extra help?
- Does she feel stupid for needing extra help?
- Does she think she is doing well enough?
- Does she resent giving up her leisure time?
At this point you don’t really need to convince the student otherwise, this is really about making the student feel understood and building trust. Depending on your comfort levels you may want to talk about the elephant in the room directly : She does not want you there and hates that her parents are forcing her. Tell her about a situation where your parents forced you and you hated it – build commonality.
The truth is that despite what she thinks of tutoring or what she wants, you are coming over anyway. Another truth here is that when you do come over, she doesn’t get as much out of it as she could because of her attitude. It is also probably true that there is something she would like to get out of the tutoring if all these attitudinal issues weren’t at play. Try to focus on what she does want and ask what she would like out of the tutoring? What can you do for her?
Students at that age are not accustomed to being treated as an adult or having their opinions and preferences considered. However, when they are given some responsibility and power to make decisions they usually appreciate it. This is the direction you should be aiming for. Try setting homework with her as a team – ask if she is ok with the amount you are setting, involve her.
Careful involving the parents. If you do so try to do it behind the scenes for now. The student resents the tutoring but this really comes from the resentment towards her powerlessness in the decision of tutoring which was enforced by her parents. If you want to gain her trust (which will be necessary for progress) you can’t be seen to be siding with her parents too much.
You should definitely try to address the issue with conversation and mentor-ship. If you don’t the parents will eventually cancel the tutoring and the student will not have received the true benefit of tuition. There is only so long that parents will be happy to pay for tuition if their daughter is (for whatever reason) not benefiting from it.