Kill the lesson plan

In the Prepwise program, great instructors are not born, they are coached.

Scripted Lesson plans don’t belong in a private tutoring environment.

If this sounds like an extreme statement, consider the fact that tutors have the ability to do what is valued by educators everywhere: get inside each student’s head. Good lessons are fluid, flexible, and ever changing to account for each student’s different learning methods and ever changing needs.

When studying with a pre-developed curriculum – sometimes developed months/years in advance – students come to expect that there are set Lesson Planpatterns to work. This may be enough for the rigid environment of certain school systems, but it will leave them at a disadvantage in the general chaos of what we call “real life.”

Instead of following a guideline for what lessons are proven to be the most effective, the role of a private instructor should be to engage each student on a deeper personal level. Lessons should be approached not as a mapped road with branching paths, but an empty field with a very clear, concrete goal in sight. It’s up to the educator to forge the paths with her student.

See for yourself:

Tutor A is helping a student study for the SAT. In today’s session he has picked an item from an SAT topics list, and approaches it by asking the student to answer a practice question. Tutor A tries to reach understanding by explaining the question in a number of ways. When the student still fails to grasp the concept, Tutor A moves on to a similar question in hopes of reinforcing the idea through repetition.

In failing to deviate from his planned path, Tutor A leaves the student without a firm grasp of the material. Worse still, the student’s inability to solve multiple questions in a row leave him frustrated and disheartened.

Another student is studying for the SAT with Tutor B. In today’s session Tutor B has picked a concept that the student is struggling with. He also begins by asking the student to answer a practice question. When the student does not understand, Tutor B sets the question aside and moves to a completely different problem type. He then jumps to another seemingly unrelated question. This continues until the student starts to see success with at least one underlying area within the overall framework for the major concept area the student has shown deficiencies. When Tutor B moves back to the original question, the student finds that he can now  build his own approach and possibly even understand how to fully address the question. Relevant success breeds competence which in turn breeds confidence, an essential element for maximizing performance in a pressured situation.

Within the education profession, this is called scaffolding. It can also be called adaptive teaching. We at Prepwise develop it through depth of experience – the only way to achieve this level of personalization is through years of experience, along with very intentional self education on the part of the instructor – constant process improvement from a web of experiential inputs. Great instructors are not born, they are coached.

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