On Saturday afternoon, the Students4Students team gathered with our inaugural tutors for our first exciting day of training. Lead by the lovely Debi, we learnt a number of teaching techniques to help children to pick up key concepts, and to manage the emotional problems that can often accompany low academic achievement.
The day began with a good dose of science, which helped to provide a real insight into the negative effects of stress on not just mental, but physical health, and the best ways to help struggling students to manage these problems. Just as many students resent the exhausted 'get more sleep and eat better' advice, children struggling in school are also unlikely to be much enamoured with this kind of talk! We learnt about breaking down problems that are stressful into manageable chunks, setting positive goals and writing down positive actions to take in order to overcome stressful situations. It was all very intuitive, and useful not just as part of tutoring, but for managing our own workloads and stress levels as well.
We then moved on to teaching techniques, and cutting-edge research into the best ways to help struggling students to take ownership over their work and achievement, and help them to feel proud of their hard work. We worked on 'breaking the cloud' to understand the links and assumptions behind different problems one by one, breaking what first seemed like a tangled mess of issues into manageable and understandable chunks. Along with two other techniques, and more resources than I can count, our tutors are now well equipped with the tools they need to help students to overcome the challenges they face not just in school, but in life.
One of the most interesting parts of the day related to changing mindsets. Many struggling children may have a 'fixed' mindset, where they feel that success is tied to self-worth, and that they can't do anything to change their own 'intelligence' or 'talent'. We learnt the importance of praising the work put in, and the process of learning, not the outcome or result. This helps students to develop a 'growth' mindset, where hard work is associated with positive outcomes, not the static concepts of 'intelligence' or 'talent'.
For the last part of the day, our Tutor Liaison Officer, James, whipped through the logistics, legalities, and nuts and bolts of tutoring, leaving everyone reassured that they would be well looked after by the committee and our trustees.
It was a great day, and lots of fun for the tutors and committee alike. A huge thank you must go to one of our trustees, Debi, for a great day of training. Thanks also to Alex, Will and James for organising everything. It's full steam ahead to the first tutoring sessions in just a couple of weeks!