We've all experienced a superstar-quality session at one time or another. Ideas are flying, obstacles are demolished, understanding comes natural. What makes these great sessions so good?
There are a lot of factors, sure, but open communication has a lot to do with it. If the student and tutor are engaged in open dialogue, everything else tends to go better.
Tips for open communication
- Eye contact. It might seem like a no-brainer that communicating openly means constant eye contact, but this isn't exactly the case. Determining what type and duration of eye contact is most comfortable for your session partner can be difficult, but when a balance is struck, the session can take leaps forward.
- Humor. There were days when tutors were expected to be strict, severe, humorless executioners of information, and students were expected to be trembling inferiors who never spoke out of turn. Those days are over. Light humor here and there can encourage your session partner to open up to you, making a better experience for you both. You can overdo it though, so be careful.
- Silence. Whether you're a student or a tutor, sometimes the moment is right to just keep quiet. It might be your turn to listen closely, or time to wait for the answer to a question, or time to sit and think about a knotty problem. Whatever the proper context, an appropriate silence can sometimes do more for open communication than a well-chosen word.
Try it out
Just like with all things, communication skills take practice to use properly. Try these tips with co-workers, family members and classmates, as well as your partners in tutoring sessions, and you will learn to create an encouraging learning environment between you and your tutor.
Even better, teach your friends the basics and talk together about how you've used them. You might find that open communication can improve more than just your time at the tutoring table.