(This is a guest post by NYC resident Megan O’Connor, the CEO of Clark, a mobile tool for tutors and administrative software solution for tutoring centers.)
With testing standards constantly changing, traditional grading systems being called into question, and policy changes affecting the way that classrooms are being run, it’s an increasingly difficult time for parents, students, teachers, and independent educators to navigate the system and keep up with students’ progress reports.
A recent survey of parents nationwide exposes a major disjuncture between parental perceptions of their children’s academic performance and reality. Across the board, 90 percent of parents thought their children were achieving at or above grade level in math and reading, which isn’t always the case: roughly 40 percent of 4th graders made the grade, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
Having spent the last two years working with full-time tutors and a lifetime as the daughter of a teacher, I see the challenges of the education system and the lack of time educators have for one-on-one conferences with parents, creating individualized learning plans, and collaborating with tutors. At the same time, students are receiving more independent help from tutors than ever. If we took even small steps to improve the communication and transparency between teachers, tutors, students, and parents, we would achieve the best student outcomes.
Setting realistic and attainable goals—and aligning all parties toward that goal— is the first step. Frequently, parents and students perceive tutors as quick fixes to academic challenges rather than focusing on the improving learning habits and kindling an academic curiosity for lasting academic gains. The path to get there is communicating honestly and openly with all parties involved.
The more regularly and honestly tutors communicate with parents, the better they’ll understand the challenges before them and the more they’ll ultimately value your contribution. Session reports are an essential ingredient in that process.
Conversely, to help students more effectively, tutors must understand what is happening inside of the classroom as it relates to where a child is struggling, as well what external factors might be affecting a child’s ability to learn like personality types or learning challenges. And, lastly, teachers need to be aware of what is being worked on independent of the classroom and be able to sync their teaching strategies.
We need to create systems and sources that help align forces around the child to achieve the best student outcomes. We need to provide access to timely information, data, research, techniques, and best practices. When we deliver on that, we will elevate the tutoring profession within the education ecosphere and empower tutors to do their very best work, which will in turn trickle down to the student. Then, success will be transparent for all to see.