Scheduling Weekly Tutoring

How long is a tutoring session?

In most cases, 1 hour is the appropriate length of time for a tutoring session. This is long enough to complete a full writing cycle, but not so long that the student becomes tired or bored.

Ultimately, however, the optimal time for a tutoring session depends on the student’s age, skill level, and goals. Young students may do best with 30- or 45-minute sessions. High school students may require 90 minutes to finish a big project.

How frequently should tutoring be scheduled?

Generally, tutoring once a week enables a student to make progress in writing, but the optimal frequency depends on the student’s age, skill level, and goals.

For students who are critically in need of tutoring support, meeting at least twice a week is best. Otherwise, a lack of progress can be discouraging for the student.

How long will a student need tutoring?

Past students have requested tutoring over a wide range of timespans, from one session to many years. The optimal timespan depends on the student’s initial skill level, learning speed, and goals.

Keep in mind that there is no long-term commitment. Students and families can reevaluate and adjust the tutoring agreement on a month-by-month basis.

In addition, students are welcome to request temporary help with a challenging writing project, even if they have discontinued weekly tutoring or have no intention of using ongoing tutoring services.

Starting Up with Tutoring

How do you decide what to work on during tutoring?

To ensure that students make real progress in areas that matter to them, services are based on a tutoring plan that incorporates input from both the student and parents. Analysis of writing samples also plays a key role. As skills develop, the plan is updated.
What should students and families expect at the start of tutoring?

My first contact is usually with a parent who is concerned about their student’s writing. We discuss the student’s current strengths, issues, and goals for writing. If it seems like tutoring could be beneficial, we schedule an introductory tutoring session.

During the introductory session, the student can share what they enjoy–or hate!–about writing. They can provide some writing samples, brag about achievements, and report on current challenges. If there’s enough time, the introductory session may also include a mini run-through of the tutoring experience.

After this introductory session, I create a tutoring plan, which the student and parents can review while deciding whether to go forward with services. Once we are all in agreement on the location, issues, and goals, then tutoring can begin.

Scope of Tutoring

Do you proofread and “correct” students' homework?

The short answer is: No. As a professional tutor, I never directly edit students’ work, and that includes no line-by-line proofreading of any student writing.
Does tutoring help students with their homework or with basic writing skills?

Tutoring can do both. Students can bring a written assignment to get tutoring support. But if they do not have any homework, I am prepared with plans for skill building activities and free choice writing.

Similarly, students can register for weekly tutoring to develop skills, or request one session of tutoring for help with an exceptionally challenging project.

When can students expect to see improvement?

I acknowledge that my tutoring methods typically require 6 to 8 weeks before there are signs of significant improvement in a student’s daily written work. However, when I offer coaching instead of correcting, I find that students respond positively and make genuine gains in writing skills. Not only that, but they continue to make progress, even after tutoring intervention ends.

Methods for Tutoring Writing

How is it possible to use a “workshop” method in a tutoring environment?

Obviously, tutoring students individually is not the same as coaching them as part of a writing workshop with their peers.

However, when possible, I write along with the student, so we can share our ideas and compare writing strategies in a semi-workshop mode. This also keeps us focused on our main goal: communication.

In addition, I try to apply writing workshop principles to other aspects of tutoring. For example, I make sure that students maintain control over their own writing, making their own revisions and punctuation changes. We focus on mastering the process of writing, rather than on creating a perfect final product. And students learn via mini lessons and actual practice, instead of doing exercises, filling in worksheets, or reading about writing in textbooks.

How can a student improve if the tutor fails to correct mistakes?

To answer this question, let’s consider some typical past writing experiences.

In all likelihood, students who request tutoring services have already been corrected extensively–maybe even for years!–by their classroom teachers. But they are still not strong writers. Why is that?

As a former public school teacher, I understand the situation. Classroom teachers face many limitations due to their responsibility for managing large group instruction. Also, teachers must cover the entire curriculum before the end of the academic year. As a result, they may find that the easiest path is to “correct” the students’ writing and keep moving.

As a tutor, however, I can take a different path.

I start by conducting a professional, individualized, writing assessment. I analyze the student’s ability to support a main idea, tell a story, add details, and organize concepts logically. Then I follow up with targeted instruction and guided practice to teach any missing skills.

As a result, the student abandons old counterproductive habits and replaces them with effective new techniques.

Couldn’t you give homework to speed up the learning process?

In the past, parents have asked me to assign writing homework, but I discovered that it doesn’t help students make faster progress with writing.

The problem is that if I give students homework before they’ve mastered a new skill, they simply practice their old bad habits, leading to even more frustration with writing.

Instead, I evaluate the students’ current strengths and issues to figure out which skills they are ready to learn next. Then, during tutoring, I introduce and reinforce these skills, using a combination of both direct instruction and guided practice.

As a result, new techniques become everyday writing habits.

Tutoring for Special Projects

Is it possible to schedule a single session for help with a project?

Absolutely! Tutoring services are available for as much, or as little, support as the student needs.

For students who are trying to improve skills, weekly tutoring is best. However, for students who’ve just hit a tough assignment or need help with a special project, one or two tutoring sessions might be enough.

Do you help students with college essays?

Yes! I’m ready to provide whatever writing support students need to complete their college essays on deadline.

One important goal is to help students analyze their qualifications and then write about the interests, experiences, and skills that make them a good fit for their preferred college and major. As a writing coach, I’m attuned to the writing process and can help students if they get “stuck” or need new strategies for making sure the essays are a positive part of their application package.

Payment for Tutoring

How is payment handled?

For ongoing tutoring services, invoices are issued at the start of each month.

Monthly payments can be handled through any of three online payment services: Zelle, PayPal, or Venmo. Contact me for help with whichever mode you prefer.

What is your rate?

My tutoring rate varies depending on the tutoring location and scope of the services. See Tutoring Rates for more information.

Communicating with the Tutor

How can students and families communicate with the tutor?

Parents and students are encouraged to provide feedback on a regular basis, whether in-person or via phone calls or email. Feedback helps us evaluate progress and adjust the tutoring plan as needed.
How are tutoring reminders handled?

In the morning before each tutoring session, I send out a tutoring reminder using the method preferred by the student and family.

Options are to recieve a text or email reminder, addressed to the student, the parents, or both. After receiving the reminder, the student and family are responsible for either confirming attendance or canceling the session.

What happens if a student must miss a tutoring session?

There is no charge for a missed tutoring session as long as the student or a family member cancels before the scheduled start time. The canceled session can be rescheduled at a later date or simply refunded.