Let’s have a little recap before we dive into the Second Step of the P.O.P. Method that has played a huge role in taking me from tutoring hobbyist to rocking a multiple 6-figure income…yep, tutoring kids!
It’s a simple method I have used over and over during each tutoring session whether it’s with one student at a time or a group of kids.
Using the P.O.P. Method of tutoring gives me guaranteed results for the student and ultimately happy parents who end up booking more sessions.
Step 1 was all about the PERSON in front of you. The focus in that first 90-120 seconds was to dig for one thing about the person in your tutoring space that makes their eyes light up.
And remember, your hint was that it probably had nothing to do with the reason or subject that brought them to tutoring!
So the two ways of BEing left in our P.O.P. Method are Opportunity and Purpose.
Let’s start with Step 2. Opportunity.
Hint: It probably won’t have anything to do with the subject you are working on together.
We start with this question in mind.
What other OPPORTUNITY is presented during the session that allows you to teach, encourage, share or listen?
Sometimes a student will come in with a chip on their shoulder and not be in any frame of mind for tutoring on the subject matter at hand.
You can force the issue, but I’d encourage you to try another method.
Communication is a great starting point.
Here’s an example.
“Hey, Logan. How are you today?”
“Fine.” No smile. No eye contact.
Clues you in right away that something is wrong.
Learning is not going to happen easily nor well until this is resolved.
“Sounds like you had a tough day. Wanna talk about it?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“Okay, cool. Why don’t you get out whatever you’d like to work on today...Do you have math?”
“Yeah, I have homework.”
“Great. Let’s try to get that done during this hour so you can relax a bit later. Sound good?”
He nods as he’s getting his notebook out with his assignment. Still no eye contact.
Logan tries a problem and it takes a while. He’s half listening and I can see he’s frustrated.
I pull out a blank sheet of paper and draw three tic-tac-toe boards.
He looks up and makes eye contact.
“Think you can beat me?”
He leans forward. For the first time, he’s engaged.
“Yeah, I can beat you.”
No smile yet, but his mood has lightened. A little.
We play in silence. The first game is a scratch. This takes five seconds. Literally.
Second game. Scratch. Another five seconds.
As we start the third game I ask, “How was school today?”
Third game. I win. (I never try to lose. Ever. It’s disrespectful to my student. When I play, I play for real.)
I look up.
He looks up. Waiting.
He nods and smiles.
Ice broken. We are two minutes into the tutoring session.
I draw out the three tic-tac-toe boards and we start the fourth game. He wins.
Perfect. His mood has shifted. He’s now receptive.
“So, how come school sucked?”
I win the second game. We’re now tied. Last game.
“Teacher got mad at me.”
Scratch. I draw the tie-breaker tic-tac-toe board without asking. He’s on the edge of his seat.
“I said something and she thought I was being a smartass.”
Now, in my tutoring sessions, my kids have free rein to speak.
I do not censor them or scold them. I do correct them if they are negative toward another person, but I do this in a manner that gets them to see the error instead of forcing it down their throats. More on that another time.
But quick note, I do not care that he said ‘ass’.
I care that he is talking, sharing and opening up.
“You weren’t trying to be sarcastic?” I win the tie-breaker and we both sit back in our seats.
“No, not really. But she sent me to the office and the vice-principal called my mom.”
“Ahh. Not fun.”
“No. Now mom’s mad at me.”
“Did you explain what you really meant to your teacher?”
“No, she wouldn’t let me.”
“But you tried.”
“Yeah.” He’s ripping paper.
“That’s really cool.”
“What?” He looks up.
“That you wanted to clear things up with the teacher.”
He nods and looks down. “I really didn’t mean it. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful.”
“Maybe you could tell her that tomorrow.”
“Yeah.” He looks up. “Do you think she’ll listen?”
I pull his homework toward me to glance at what he’s doing. “Maybe. Sometimes even adults don’t listen as well as we should. Would you feel better writing her a note and then talking to her?”
He thought about it. “Yeah, that could work. I can go to school early and give it to her.”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“And maybe I can let my mom read it so she isn’t mad at me.”
“I like that.” I turn his homework back toward him. “How about we start with your homework and if there’s time, we get started on that note to your teacher?”
He nods and sits up to start his homework. He looks up. “And a rematch?”
“Yep, and a rematch!”
That entire conversation took no more than 5 minutes and yet is priceless.
First, it allowed Logan to relax.
If a student isn’t relaxed, they will not learn well.
Second, it allowed Logan to speak freely, get off his chest what was bothering him and to be heard.
Three, it allowed for silliness mixed with a tiny bit of competition with the tic-tac-toe game and promise of a rematch.
(For some students and adults, this is enough to get them out of the bad mood or state they are in.)
Four, there were some life-lessons taught here and communication skills were explored.
Plus, if time allowed at the end, Logan would have a five or seven-minute period to write out his letter of apology/explanation to his teacher. In this case, he was motivated enough to complete his math so he did have time to work on his letter.
And he had a plan of action so his brain could refocus on his work. Not the problem with no solution that was spinning in his head on a loop.
And we worked on his written communication skills in that letter.
So, even though ten minutes of his tutoring session had nothing to do with math, that was time well spent in developing relationship and communication skills.
To me and for him, that ten minutes was so much more important for his growth as a human being than the forty minutes of Pre-Algebra work we did.
Now instead of jumping right into Step 3…
True learning comes from action.
With action comes clarity and with clarity comes understanding.
From understanding, we can begin to grasp a knowing that is as innate as breathing. Not something one has to think about to do.
That’s where I want you in this step and the previous one.
Read over it again. It’s simple, yet so simple the importance might be missed, lost or brushed aside.
So make a commitment by posting below to re-read this Step as needed and implement it this week in your home, in your classroom, in your tutoring session.
Otherwise, scroll down and post your commitment to rock the first two steps of the P.O.P. Method this week with your students or kids. And then tell me about it on the Education Lady Facebook page, because keeping the dialogue going is where it’s at, ya’ll.
Remember to learn something today - ha, you just did! - you can share with someone tomorrow. Share this post and be my bestie.
When ready, check out the close of this series with Step 3.
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