The Secrets of Tutoring: Powerful Feedback

Research shows that the most effective teacher input is feedback. 

Feedback is any written, verbal or non-verbal response to a student’s work or progress.

It could take the form of a smile, a spelling correction or a comment ‘I love the way you solved that problem’.

I think of feedback like cat’s eyes on the motorway:

If I’m driving on the motorway and veer out of lane, I will feel the bump-bump-bump under my wheels until I get back on track. At night, I have the added (intended) benefit of the lights to guide me also.

Think of your role as the tutor as providing that immediate feedback to keep your students to keep heading in the right direction.

A word of warning:

Keep your feedback as light and as positive as possible. If you’re too rigid or too tough your student will either come to resent you or come to rely on you too heavily.

Your ultimate goal is for your student to give herself feedback, to evaluate her own work and to make her own corrections.

To return to my favorite metaphor: 

Cat’s eyes indicate the right direction, but they don’t stop you from changing lanes – sometimes your student will freestyle. 

And that’s cool too.