This post is part of a series written by Paper's tutors. Each post takes you behind the screen, uncovering their perspectives and expertise. This week, Tutor Aleya shows you how to build great relationships with students in online environments.

When offering a service that has traditionally required face-to-face interaction, such as teaching or tutoring, it is important to keep that human connection alive.

In my experience, the key to tutoring online has been to keep the focus on building a relationship with the student. How, you ask?

1. Start every session by checking your biases.

To make students feel welcomed and feel encouraged on the platform, approach each session with a fresh and open mind. It is important for every tutor to listen to and respect the student and their struggles with the subject matter no matter what.

2. Get a good understanding of what the student is aiming to achieve.

Are they struggling to understand a specific topic or question? Do they need some guidance on getting started with a difficult essay? Or do they simply need confirmation on an answer they’ve gotten to? Make sure to confirm the student’s expectations, level of understanding, and their teacher’s expectations and to ensure you are providing the help that they need.

3. Reassure them that you are there to support them through their learning process.

This builds their trust in the educator and in the online learning environment, such as Paper. Students must believe that they are not alone in their learning, and will have someone to aid and support them. Your positivity, enthusiasm and guidance will help build a student’s confidence, motivation, and likelihood of seeking out help again in the future.

4. Find common ground.

If a student is struggling with something, find a way to relate to them. Try to level with the student by emphasizing that you understand how a topic can be challenging. Maybe even share a similar situation with them. If a student is sharing an opinion or a personal anecdote related to their learning, thank them and them their experiences are valid. Often, alongside wanting to get their homework done on time, students want to feel comfortable and heard.

5. Ensure you are providing consistent communication and feedback.

Consistently asking students questions and confirming their understanding shows your dedication to making sure the student feels confident to go on to do the work on their own. Commending a student when they have made a strong conclusion on their essay, or when you see that they are on the right path to solving their Math problem will keep them going. If you need the student to explain their question again, or you need a few minutes to type out your guidance, let them know! All of this will show your enthusiasm and engagement in the learning session.

6. If you're at a Paper partner school, make sure you're taking advantage of it.

On Paper, student's tutoring sessions are made transparent to teachers. Paper equips teachers with actionable insights of their student’s learning outside of the classroom, completing the educational feedback loop. Make sure you're taking advantage of your ability to target your instruction and check in with the students who could use more attention.

— Aleya, PAPER Tutor

Providing equitable, unlimited tutoring support for the 2020-2021 school year is crucial. With PAPER, doing this comes at a fixed cost to your district. Learn more.

About PAPER

Founded in 2014, Paper is an Educational Support System (ESS) providing students with 24/7 live help & essay review, and teachers with real-time feedback and intervention tools. Paper partners with districts across North America to close the achievement gap and support educational equity.