The Fear of One-to-One Tutorials
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
You have a ten-minute tutorial with your stressed out tutor and you’re in a mess. Your hands are sweaty cold, your throat is so dry and rasping it feels like you couldn’t swallow water let alone make any coherent sounds from it and your brain is empty. Empty like the bottles of vodka after a Freshers’ party!
How can you possible learn anything useful when you’re in this state?
Time for a bit of Myth Busting!
I’m going tell you something really important now – are you ready? Here goes…
Your tutors are not Gods!
You may think they are, it’s a common belief. And yes, it’s true, they do know more than you do about the subject but that’s how it should be. The fact is, they don’t know everything!
The thing to remember here, is that the tutorial is YOUR time, YOUR chance learn in whichever way works best for you.
(By the way, I have a nifty Making the Most of Your Tutorial Worksheet that you can download for free and use to prepare for and take notes from your meeting. How cool is that?
Let’s take a look at what happened to one unfortunate and unprepared student during a tutorial
On a recent marketing webinar training session that I was on, one of the students, (we’ll call her Aurora), had requested some tutorial time with the group. The tutorial was being lead by the host of the webinar.
First, allow me to introduce to you, Aurora!
Okay, here’s how Aurora’s tutorial played out:
Tutor: Okay, Aurora. You’re on, how are you? What can we do for you today? [Long, long silence]
Tutor: Aurora…are you there? [long silence] Aurora are you still online? [long silence]
Tutor: [To the general audience] Okay, Aurora seems to be experiencing some technical issues so I guess we’d better move on. Right, so I see that Felix is here…let’s see how we can help Felix today.
Aurora: NO! NO! I’m here…I just need some help…[silence]
Tutor: All right, that’s no problem, Aurora – what do you need help with? – I’m sure we can sort something out to help you.
Felix, don’t panic we’ll get to you shortly. Aurora how can we help you? [silence].
Aurora: Well, I need help with my marketing, really…[silence]
Tutor: Okay…is there a specific area of your marketing strategy that you need help with? [silence]
Aurora: Yeah, I don’t know how to get people interested in buying my How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse course…[silence]
Tutor: Right…so that’s…errr…quite a niche topic then. [silence]
Tell me Aurora, what marketing strategies have you tried so far…let’s see if we can come up with some new ideas for you [prolonged silence]
Aurora: Yeah, it is kinda niche, but I reckon there’s a lot of people interested in zombies and like, zombie attacks right now. And well, you never know, do you? It could happen. And, well, if it did, you’d want to know how to survive wouldn’t you?
I know I would.
So that’s why I decided to create my course. I just need help getting people to buy it. I don’t understand why its not selling.
I did loads of webinars on how to build courses, so I know that I have a good idea…[silence]
Tutor: I’m sure that there are plenty of people out there who would be interested in how to survive a zombie apocalypse, Aurora. But can your tell me a little bit about what you’ve done to let people know that your course is out there…
Aurora: Well, I’ve got a Facebook group…[silence]
Tutor: That’s great…just great, Aurora…nice one! How many members are there in your group?
Aurora: Ermm…err…just me…and my kid brother, Storm…oh yeah, and his friend, Billy – they don’t get out much. They love their computer games…
See, that’s what I’m saying, I need more people in my group. Storm and Billy aren’t going to buy my course – they don’t get enough pocket money…[silence]…
Can you help me…please…[silence]
Tutor: Okaaaaay! Aurora, can I ask you, do you have a website or a blog?
Aurora: Oh yeah, but nobody ever reads it. I don’t know how to do all that computer stuff really.
Anyway, we won’t need them if the zombies attack, will we?
Everyone will want to buy my course when that happens…but it’ll be too late then, won’t it?
I mean who’s got time to study when you’re being chased by the living dead, eh?
Tutor: No…I guess that’s true! Aurora…
Hey, I think I’ve come up with an idea…[To the general audience] Okay everyone, who wants to buy Aurora’s course?…
…[sighs deeply, and speaks quietly] I know I do [general sound of keyboard clattering as group members frantically type in their credit card details]
Tutor: Felix…Felix…are you still there?…
Okay, okay I lied…this wasn’t based on a real webinar BUT can you see where Aurora went wrong (and why the Tutor should be given a medal…like NOW)?
I have a question for you…
…how many mistakes did you find in Aurora’s approach to her tutorial?
What mistakes do you think she made?
I’ll give you a few minutes to study the transcript and think about Aurora’s experience.
***Wanders off for a cup of tea and a biscuit***
***Returns from refreshment break***
Okay, here’s what I think happened…
(I hope you haven’t cheated and skipped straight to the answers )
- She obviously wasn’t prepared for the tutorial
- She wasn’t specific about what she wanted to discuss
- She was perhaps a bit intimidated by the tutor (even though he was friendly and very patient with her).
- She didn’t listen to the questions that the host was asking – as a result she went waffling off wasting all her allotted time on irrelevant rubbish. (Sometimes students think that as long as they’re talking in tutorials, it’s going well when really all that’s happening is both the student and the tutor are wasting their time. EVERY word, thought and idea should count).
Put simply, she was too frightened of making mistakes and this fear caused her to make the mistakes she dreaded!
How Can You Rock Your Tutorials?
Here’s a few dos:
- Plan & prepare before you go – know exactly what you want to discuss – and what SPECIFIC information you need to get from your tutors
- Tutorials are usually between 10 & 20 minutes – this is not a lot of time. Try to prioritise your topics so that you address the subjects that ONLY your tutor can answer
- Review your plan 5 minutes before the tutorial so that it’s fresh in your mind
- Actively listen and think about what your tutor has to say
- Answer any questions thoughtfully – the tutorial experience should be a collaborative procedure between you and your tutor – be engaged
- Ask your tutor to clarify any points that you’re unclear on
- Identify any further tasks that you need to do as a result of the comments/discussion (tutors may give you resources or other lecturers contact details that you need to act upon
- Review your notes as soon as you can after the tutorial – make sure that you fully understand them (and that you will fully understand them five or ten weeks down the line when you’ve got to refer to them to complete your assignments
- AND THE BIGGY – remember to download your free Making the most of your Tutorials Worksheet so that you can make organised notes about what has been discussed – Don’t rely on your memory to remember what has been said!
And here’s couple of don’ts
- Don’t be nervous – remember your tutorials are for you – YOU ARE IN CONTROL!
- Don’t fall into the trap of believing that your tutors have a God-like status – they’re just people; people who have been where you are now. More than that they’re people who want to help you as much as they can. Think about it, your success is also their success.
- Remember, your tutors are not psychic – they can’t read minds. They can’t help you if you don’t tell them exactly what you need to know
How the Making the Most of Your Tutorial Checklist and Worksheet will help you
- Plan for your tutorial
- Identify the specific topics that you want to discuss with your tutor
- Take organised notes during your meeting
- Identify specific actions that your tutor has suggested
- Reflect on the meeting and allow you to check that you fully understand your notes
- Be a permanent record of the tutorial for you to take any actions you need to do as a result of the meeting
- Be a permanent record that you can refer to when you’re working on your assignments