Parents should carefully vet the various tutoring services that are available in Northern Virginia to first find out the reputation of the service. Did students really learn there? Have they gone on to excel or succeed in an area for which they were tutored? Were the instructors trained in a process to not only understand the course material that was being taught, but also the student’s ability to learn it?
That last point is critical and the tutoring service should have answers readily available because of their own due diligence in vetting tutors.
Here’s a quick list of questions some tutoring services ask during the process of interviewing and selecting their tutors:
Some tutors are industry professionals who come to tutor at an after-school class, but they are not qualified teachers for this group of kids seeking additional help. A good tutoring service will want to find someone who specializes in working with a child who has been trained to do more individualized work than they are used to in a larger classroom. Most services have a training program for their tutors.
Passion and enthusiasm for teaching
Tutoring can be an intense experience for a teacher not used to a one-on-one educational process. Sometimes they have to work with difficult personalities. In other cases, they have to be empathetic as they explore what the student can do and cannot do. And at other times, they have to understand that a pre-adolescent student may not have the maturity to understand what they need to do, or the patience to do it. A passion for teaching can overcome all these roadblocks.
“I have teachers here that have doctorates from Cambridge or a master’s degree from Oxford,” Chris Rice, center director of C2 Education of Fairfax, says. “You wouldn’t really think of them wanting to work at a tutoring service. But they are here not just for the paycheck, but because they want to teach students. They do things like going home and finding research on some topics for students or putting together presentations to show students; all of this without me asking them to. They just do it for the love of teaching.”
This includes a criminal background check and references check. Dr. Ralph Perrino, who, along with his wife Denise, founded Northern Virginia Tutoring Service, LLC, even asks for a resume and a cover letter, which he admits is a bit old school.
“I want to see a cover letter and resume because I want to see how they write, whether there are spelling errors or typos,” he says.
Perrino says when he meets with a prospective tutor, he goes through a mental checklist: Do they shake my hand? How were they dressed? How do they comport themselves? Do they ask the right questions?
Find a tutor who is a good listener and a problem-solver
“Everything we do is very individualized for the student,” Michelle Scott, owner/director of Tutoring Club of McLean, says. “It’s not an out-of-the-box solution. So we need tutors who are very nimble and very adaptable to the student’s needs.”
Follow up with the student
“I look for people who act like a kid and connect with the kid,” Perrino says. “A parent needs to see a tutor connecting, really connecting, with the kid on a personal level. If the child is pleased with what is going on, there is progress being made. If a parent asks the kid if he likes the tutor and the child rolls his eyes, then you are wasting your money.”