How to Become a Better Math Tutor


The best teachers never stop learning. Here are some resources to help you become an even better tutor or teacher.

The “Asian” Method

Arvin Vohra gives an overview of his philosophy and methods of math tutoring in his book, The Equation for Excellence. Many of his ideas run counter to conventional wisdom. Agree or disagree with him, but let him make you think about why you teach the way you do. He includes information about preparing students for high scores on SAT math tests as well as information on motivating boys versus girls. Prepare to be challenged.

Look Internationally for Ideas

Check out this analysis of lessons presented in Germany, Japan, and the United States. Perhaps some of your students could benefit from a fresh approach. There is always something to learn about teaching. One lesson to learn from the Japanese, for instance, is professional development. Teachers work together to perfect a lesson on a specific topic, watch a teacher present the lesson to a class, then work to improve that lesson yet again. Never be complacent.

Challenge Yourself

Try learning a new academic skill yourself. Remember what it was like to not yet know the math you now teach. Pick up a book on astrophysics, philosophy, or even basket weaving. Let yourself feel “lost” for a bit. Then go back to your students with fresh empathy for their struggles.

Get Feedback from Students

Be sure students feel free to share frustrations with you. Their struggles are clues that will help you help them. Shy, polite students might not volunteer information without encouragement.

As you devote yourself to continued learning, you become a better model for your students. You might sometimes share with a student something new you learned—and how you struggled with it. Keep up your good work!


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