Dear LRNASST colleagues:

In light of the OVERWHELMING RESPONSE for me to fax copies of the
tutor handout we use on our Tutoring Policy.  For all of you who kindly
sent me your fax numbers...hopefully the following will work for you.  It's
nothing fancy, but it outlines some of the major points we go over during
our initial training sessions with our tutors.  This is only the introduction to
the academic portion of the training.  We also do a lot of work with
personal boundaries (i.e., how NOT to counsel students),  instructional
strategies for LD and ESL students, learning styles (we need to know
who we are before we can understand what they bring...),
supplemental instruction, record keeping, office policies and politics,
campus climate, etc.  The bullets and tab markings are omitted for
purposes of e-mail transfer.  Please let me know if you have any

Karen Woodward, Director
Student Support Services (SSS)/TRIO Program
Century College (formerly Lakewood CC/NMTC)
3300 Century Ave. North
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Phone: (612) 779-3247
Fax: (612) 779-3949
Email: [log in to unmask]

Tutor Training (Handbook Excerpt)


Student Support Services is a federally funded program to help students
increase their retention in and graduation from college.  Because the
students accepted into SS must meet certain criteria, you will be working
with students who have a wide variety of needs.  It is our hope that,
through this training session, you will become familiar with the needs of
these students and our expectations of you as a tutor.  You are joining a
team, and the rest of the SSS staff sees you as an integral part of the
support network that helps our students succeed.  You will probably
meet with some students on a weekly basis and may in fact, be the
primary contact students have with SSS.  It is crucial, therefore, that
these tutoring sessions be rewarding and beneficial for our students and
for you as a tutor.

Please recognize that neither this manual nor our training session can
address every situation that will arise.  Feel free to ask questions of any
staff member when you have concerns.  Our students# success is a
collaborative effort to which we all contribute.

First Tutoring Session

Most students who seek tutoring have either done poorly in school or are
so uncertain of their abilities they are afraid they will do poorly.  As a
tutor, you need not differentiate between these types of students,
because their perceptions of themselves as learners are the same.  But
you do need to recognize these students have a level of fear and a lack
of confidence that can interfere with their learning.  It is crucial,
therefore, that your first contact with students is comfortable and makes
them feel at ease.  It is also crucial that you explain the tutor#s role (your
role) to them, because they may have unrealistic ideas about what tutors
do.  The following are some steps to follow for the first tutoring session
you have with a student.

        The first thing to do is introduce yourself.  You might want to give
them a little background information about yourself, or make some small
talk to put them at ease.

        Make sure you say the student#s name, and ask if you#ve
pronounced it correctly.  Some names, particularly Southeast Asian, are
difficult to pronounce, but it is a courtesy to learn the correct
pronunciation.  Don#t be embarrassed if you forget by the next tutoring
session (through writing the name phonetically on the cart is a good
idea); just ask again.

        Ask them questions.  Lots of questions.
        What are you here to work on today?
        What difficulties have you had in the past?
        Do you have a specific assignment?
        Can you get out your assignment sheet?
        Can we look at the syllabus?
        When is the test/paper due?
        Do you have a previous paper/test from this course for us to look

Obviously, you don#t have to ask all these questions, but your goal is to
determine what the student thinks her/his needs are, what the instructor
(through grading) sees as the student#s needs, and where to begin with
the student.

        Explain your role as a tutor and what will happen during the
tutoring session.  For a paper, for instance, outline the steps you#ll take.
Here#s an example:

#Okay, Chia, now we#re ready to look at your paper.  What I like to do is
read through the paper with you.  Then we will talk about it together.  We
will probably focus on a few  things today, such as your thesis and
organization.  I will help you with grammar, but I can#t fix every error.#

When you say the last sentence, the students will panic.  ESL students,
in particular, believe that grammar is the only stumbling block between
them and better grades.  Without going into a huge philosophical and
pedagogical discussion on writing, suffice it to say that fixing grammar is
editing.  Tutors don#t edit.  And editors don#t teach.  We will talk about this
at length later on.

        If you are working on writing, either read it aloud or have the
student read it.  (Many ESL students don#t like to read out loud; respect
their discomfort and do it yourself.)   If working on a science-related
subject, focus on one or two main topics from the last in-class lecture
the student attended.

        Approach the work methodically.  If you are working on a math
topic, determine if the student understands the math concepts necessary
to work the problems by asking questions.  DO NOT BEGIN BY SIMPLY

As you begin to practice and model problem-solving techniques for a
student, speak out loud as you work through the problems.  Remember,
your goal is to model for the students many different approaches to a
problem, in order that the student will learn the ways to learn.

        Work until the session is up, but don#t go over.  Remember, you
need some time to prepare for your next session.

        Conclude the session by summarizing (briefly) what you have

        Present the student with clear goals for the next session.  For

#Chia, you#ve got a good strong thesis now.  Make sure you spell check
this and check your subject/verb agreement before you hand it in.  On
your next paper you want to be sure that each paragraph helps the
reader understand why your thesis is valid.  You#ve made a really good
start on this paper.#

        Set them up for the next appointment.  If possible, walk them to
the secretary#s desk and help them set it up.  If time prohibits, stress the
importance of signing up today for an appointment later.

        Will help with vocabulary and clarify usage#s in context.
        Will ask leading questions to prompt students to think critically
about material.
        Will not simply paraphrase reading material, thus relieving them of
the responsibility of completing the reading and understanding the
writer#s main idea.

        Help students discover and express their ideas clearly and in a
well organized manner.

Help with discovery:
        Read assignment with them.
        Ask questions about requirements
        Look at other necessary sources (books, stories, articles).
        Begin brainstorming questions
        what might you write about?
        suggest ideas based on their ideas

Help with strategy:
        Review assignment.
        Ask to insure students understand it
        if not, try to model it using information outside of class
         (how to set up a c/c essay, for example)
        if so, ask them about their plans for organizing

Help with organization:
        Read through essay.
        Ask about how ideas are ordered.
        Suggest reorganization for clarity.

Help with revision:
        Again, bigger questions:
        thesis clear?
        organization logical?
        demonstrates unity?

Help with editing:
        Help students learn to identify and correct grammar and sentence
structure errors.
        Many errors will be pointed out by asking leading questions like,
#I#m a little confused about tense here.  What seems to be the problem?#
        Those errors the tutor must point out will be treated as
mini-lessons.  #Remember, if you begin a sentence with #if or #although#,
it will need to be attached to an independent clause.  Or #There =
location, Their = possessive pronoun, They#re =   They are.#
        Tutors will not proofread papers and make corrections.  Instead,
we will help students learn from their errors.
        We will not supply information or ideas to students.  We will model
brainstorming and idea generating techniques frequently used by
        We will offer not correct spelling, but will occasionally identify
misspelled words or suggest students use spell check.
        We will direct students to other resources and encourage open
communications with their instructors.
        We will make direct contact with instructors if we have specific
concerns about a student#s progress (This is not an attempt to violate a
student#s privacy; usually such contacts will be made with the student#s
permission.  On rare occasions, a student#s needs may be so great that
contact with instructor regarding the specific help we give is necessary
to guard against the possibility a student may pass a course without
mastering the subject matter.  In other words, #squeeze by# by virtue of
our assistance.)
        Finally, our task is to help students with the daunting project of
mastering written English, and we will do so with encouragement,
genuine concern for students# progress, and a commitment to the
guidelines above.