4 Crucial Communication Skills for Online Tutors

communication skills for online tutors

Communication Skills for Online Tutors

Why improve tutor communication? As I’m sure you are aware online tutoring requires awareness of many communication techniques. Furthermore, these techniques are taken for granted in face-to-face tutoring. So in this article, I will cover important techniques to improve tutor communication for online tutors.

Improve Tutor Communication

Timeliness

One way to improve tutor communication is responding quickly. Above all consistency is key when responding. To clarify, responding consistently forms the key “presence indicator” for students. So, a 24-hour turnaround during the week and 48 hours on the weekend is a good target. However, communicating your goals and expectations clearly is also crucial. Therefore, allowing your tutors and students to share common expectations.

We use this method at Crossroads of Learning. For instance, we use assessments and ad-hoc communications between the tutors we train and their mentors. Most importantly, everything is taking place asynchronously, and in writing.

Furthermore, based on our student exit surveys we are seeing a profound positive correlation. That is to say, there is a correlation between mentor responsiveness and a sense of connection. Thus leading to course satisfaction for our attendees. Additionally, there is an increase in self-reported improvement in tutoring skills from our students.

Authenticity

Positive feedback is always advised. However, including specific references is crucial. To clarify, including aspects of student work as an example. Above all, commenting with, “Good job!”, is a turn-off for students. So, including supporting information and perspectives promotes connection.

Cultural Sensitivity

Trading introductions at the beginning of a tutoring relationship is a good idea. Thus allowing tutors to increase understanding of their student’s background. Also, looking into native languages and being culturally aware is helpful. That is to say considering culture affects interpretation and understanding.

For example, there are Asian and Pacific cultures where it is arrogant to talk about oneself. Additionally, silence is seen as a strength. Both of these assumptions leads to reticence to communicate. Therefore offering extra encouragement helps.

Tone

When texting, for example, the lack of eye contact or body language impacts the tone of communications. Similarly, this is the same with online tutors. Therefore, it can also be misinterpreted easily. So taking care and softening wording is beneficial. Additionally, avoiding phrasing that can be interpreted in a negative way. Trying to be as specific as possible, always showing respect and positive regard.

Online Tutoring Research

Research in this area is hard to find. However, investigating resources created for online teaching is helpful. There is a paper called “Guide to Teaching Online Courses”. Currently available from the National Education Association. Among other areas it discusses tone and timeliness and the pdf can be downloaded by clicking here.

In summary, strengthening written communication is key. That is to say it can make or break success with a student. Therefore, developing good communication skills is crucial. Consequently, these tips are all covered in the Crossroads of Learning tutor training curriculum. Access is available online or through a train-the-trainer program. For more information, visit our website at www.crossroadsoflearning.com.

By Bob Lasiewicz, M.A.
Managing Director, Crossroads of Learning

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