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 Jusman explains the one superpower of all great educators, regardless of whether they're in-person or online.
We're living in a time where students are adapting to online and hybrid learning models at the same time their teachers are. This year has brought not only students but also teachers, a new age of technological learning.
Challenging concepts that were already hard enough for students to grasp in regular classes are now rendered more baffling by how tricky online teaching can be.
Be it a torrent of messages from multiple students, or one student having particular difficulty with a concept, ensuring a great learning experience through a computer screen takes work. And though educators can get overwhelmed too, it's important to remember that unfamiliar learning environments are often tougher on students than they are on us.
Luckily, Paper tutors are seasoned online educators, here to show you that the key to educating online is much like the key to educating in-person: Patience.
Paper tutors stick with a student on the platform until they are comfortable with the material. Everyone’s learning pace is different, so we maximize the fact that we are an unlimited service: we work with students without any time limits. When explaining concepts, we try our hardest to find ways that best resonate with the student. With some of the more difficult concepts, that can take hours. We help students find solutions on their own, by asking them guiding questions rather than giving away answers. Asking guiding questions also helps gauge the student's level of knowledge, so we don’t go too fast or slow.
All this takes longer than simply giving students the answer, but again, patience is a sign of a great educator.
I’ve had students that demand answers because their "test is tomorrow" or their "assignment is due tonight," however, our foremost goal is to help students become independent, confident learners.
Patience is especially key to shift students' mindset from “what is the answer?” to “how can I find the answer?”
Another habit students tend to develop during online tutoring sessions is to send many messages at once. A barrage of questions may become hard to keep track of, and it requires a lot of patience and poise to dissect each individual part of a student's query. Students normally do this when they are utterly lost and don’t even know where to begin. Again, patience is the key to sifting through students' questions and tackling all the points of confusion for a given topic.
Paper is a chat-based interactive platform to ensure privacy and that students can focus solely on their class material. Not being face-to-face with tutors provides a level of anonymity that alleviates the pressure of asking questions. Students often feel too insecure about asking questions that seem "too silly" in class, and I have personally had students express how scary it is to be put on the spot during an online class. While I encourage all of them to ask questions directly to their teacher, too, some students still find the unlimited online tutoring environment less nerve-racking, and I'm happy to work through problems with them — no matter how big or small.
All in all, the benefits of online instruction can be enhanced by the patience tutors exhibit for each and every session. Staying patient allows us to understand student needs better, while simultaneously allowing for a pleasant learning experience.
— Jusman, PAPER Tutor
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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.