Hi Listers,

I am including in this email one exercise I've done with tutors to discuss
boundary setting and to help clarify their roles with students.  It includes
some scenarios that are common in our center (and maybe yours) and gives some
sample ways to talk with students.  I have found that giving tutors some
words to say helps them, especially when they are new.  Hope it is helpful.

Linda Russell

Tutor Coordinator
Minneapolis Community and Technical College
Minneapolis, MN

Boundary Setting

Situation 1

A tutor works from 12:00-2:00, but plans to work on homework in the Learning
Center from 2:00 until closing at 4:00.  Her 1:00 student wants more help and
is desperate.  So the tutor works with the student for two more hours, even
though she will not get paid for the time, and she hasn't made any progress
on her own homework.  What should she do next time that happens?

Situation 2

A tutor works with a student who is very passive and seems not to understand
the assignment or how to go about doing it.  So, the tutor directs the
student step by step through the whole thing. Finally, the assignment is
done, but the tutor feels like he helped too much.  Sure enough, the student
comes back to get the same kind of help on the next assignment, expecting the
tutor to tell every step and how to do each task.  What should the tutor do
this time?

Situation 3

A tutor has a student who has a quiz tomorrow, but has been absent from class
for 3 days due to a family emergency.  The tutor helps get the student caught
up, and the student does okay on the quiz.  The next week the student is back
to get caught up again, since she missed class because her car wouldn't
start.  Three days later she is back to get caught up because she got sick
from all the stress with her family and her car problems.  Pretty soon the
tutor feels trapped and is certain the student feels it is okay to miss class
and use the tutor to get caught up anytime.  What should the tutor say to the
student now?

Situation 4

A tutor has a very successful session with a new student who is rather
worried about school and grades.  The student returns after getting an A on a
test to thank the tutor and maintain that the reason for the A was the great
tutoring.  The student signs up for the tutor again twice every week and
seeks walk-in help as well, all the time reminding the tutor that the good
grades s/he is earning are only because of the wonderful tutoring. The tutor
is worried that the student is too dependent.  What can the tutor do?

Sample Phrases you can useā€¦

"I know you need more help, but I'm finished working for today.  Let's go see
Luanne (our receptionist) and find someone else to help you."

"Last time we met I felt you really needed a lot of my help to get through
the assignment.  You know tutors can't do every step with you, so this time
I'd like you to choose which things you need help with and which things
you're going to do on your own."

"Well, I know it feels like you need help on everything!  I've felt that way
too!  But let's pick out the two or three most confusing things to work on."

"How's class going?  Have you been able to get there?  No?  It's important
that you know that a tutor can't be a substitute for going to class.  I am
not allowed to give the initial instruction, you know, the lecture and
introduction of new material.  That's the teacher's role.  So, please go to
the teacher's office hours before you come see me.  You can get some of the
information from the teacher, and the teacher can let me know how I can help