November 29, 2014

Approaches to Tutoring and Teaching American Students

Having experienced going to college in the US and in India, I knew that teacher expectations and student learning expectations were different between these cultures. Over the past few years, I have been providing training to tutors based in India providing extra help, homework help and tutoring to kids going to grade, middle and high school in the US. The videos below offer a glimpse into perspectives on American education from a tutoring and a student perspective.

This video shows the dos and don'ts of math tutoring in a college setting. The tips and approaches would be the same in providing extra help to school children as well.

Giving Meaningful Praise
Kids that grow up and go to school in American are motivated by positive encouragement. This is in direct opposition to how most teachers in India and Asia motivate (by shaming people on the wrong doings). If a tutor from India tries to shame a kid in the US, that will hurt their feelings and they will not want to get tutoring from you. Watch the video below to learn about positive reinforcement.

Importance of Asking Open Ended Questions to Stimulate Interest
The Indian education system is one where "what the teacher says goes," or whatever the teacher says is right, no ifs ands or buts. The teacher delivers information without asking questions or expecting questions. If a teacher asks questions, students are expected to answer from memory, not so much from their own words or their own experience. Answers must be given verbatim. In the US education system, however, from a young age, kids are encouraged to ask questions. They are also encouraged to think on their own and learn by the teachers (or parents) asking them questions and getting them to think and form ideas, opinions and answers on their own. Hence, even if two people want to give the same answer, the two students have to say it differently from the teacher and also differently from each other. I often facilitate this skill to corporates working offshore by asking a question to the entire group and forcing each one in the group to provide a different answer or a build answer (building on someone else's previously mentioned answer by providing more detail or a fresh perspective.) See the video below for techniques on using questions to stimulate learning.

Importance of Giving Evidence
In the video below the teacher is asking the students to answer questions from the book in their own words and also to back-up their answer with evidence from the book. In this case, the students will not directly quote the book, but share some excepts from the book in their own words about the element they want to prove. Note the kids in this video doing this are very young. This is a skill American kids learn from a very young age. Even when delivering training programs to Indian corporates working with Americans on or offsite, we facilitate exercises on the importance of offering proof while convincing or negotiating with Americans, even in daily status report meetings.

The concepts in these videos are highlighted in a training program tailored for Indian professionals, educated in India, offering virtual tutoring or online homework help to students in the US. For more details on this two day, interactive program that includes many elements to understand the US educational system, American culture, uses of American vs. Indian English, and clear speaking skills over the phone, contact us today for more information. 

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