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[PART 3] How To Run A Tutoring Session For Maximum Results

Feb 07, 2019

This is a continuation of the three-part series. For best results, start with Step 1 then move onto Step 2. And don’t forget to implement what you learn!

In Step 1 of the P.O.P. Method, we discovered just how important the PERSON is who sits in front of you during a tutoring session.

In Step 2 of the P.O.P. Method, we went over how important OPPORTUNITY is and just how impactful it can be in opening up new avenues for learning life skills.

And that leads us to Step 3 and the final “P” in P.O.P. - and that’s PURPOSE.

So, without further ado, let’s jump in with both feet and get you popping!

STEP 3: UNCOVER THE REAL PURPOSE OR MOTIVATION BEHIND WHY THE STUDENT IS COMING TO SEE YOU.

Hint: It probably won’t just be the subject you are working on with the student.

And this is huge!

Get ready to dive in and stay with me through to the very end. The reward will be a tutoring business that runs on referrals, grows like wildfire and impacts so many while also changing your own life.

So we first ask the question…

STEP 3: What is the real PURPOSE or motivation for tutoring?

This step is critical for building longevity with a student and that’s exactly what you want.

You desire a student not to come once but to come back time and time again. And preferably a few times per week at that!

And to love coming to you for help on whatever subject but also because you are you.

You listen, you encourage, you smile, you make the student feel like he or she matters.

Review Steps 1 and 2 to dive deeper into this.

Now, Part 1 of Step 3, you can think of this step in two parts is

  • What is the PURPOSE of this tutoring session (in this moment)?

  • What is the overall PURPOSE of tutoring for this student?

  • What is the overall PURPOSE of tutoring for the parent of this student?

Know that a parent’s purpose or motivation may be different from the student’s. It’s important to know both.

But let’s start with the first.

What is the PURPOSE of this tutoring session?

You must ask yourself this question each time a student begins an appointment. And it’s not hard. But it’s vital to know so that you can gear the hour-long session to achieving the desired outcome for that student’s reason for being there.

Remember Sarah, the 9th-grade Algebra student from STEP 1?

For Sarah, she had math homework AND a substitute teacher who didn’t explain the needed concepts in a way that she could understand in order to do that homework.

Her PURPOSE for being there is two-fold.

She needed to complete her math homework in the next hour (hopefully) or at least get a jumpstart on it. AND she needed to be taught one or possibly two concepts so that she could do the assigned work.

It is your job as a rockstar tutor to determine the PURPOSE for the appointment as fast as possible.

Now let’s go to Logan from STEP 2.

Logan had math homework to complete as well.

However, Logan’s PURPOSE for being in your space was not to address the math but to get to the issue he was having and help him through it.

Yep, seriously.

He had a problem with his teacher.

Through communication skills, I discovered this problem. Together we found a solution.

While Logan didn’t realize his PURPOSE for being at tutoring was to find a solution to his “smartass remarks to his teacher”, he did. And he felt much better for it which allowed him to focus on his secondary PURPOSE – completing his math homework.

Without addressing the first, his homework would have been half-assed. The concepts would not have been retained and the hour would have been a waste of his (and my) time.

Tutoring is so much more than helping with core subjects.

Tutoring like a rockstar is about grooming up awesome young people. It’s about listening to them, actually hearing them and guiding them to great-ness.

Now onto the second part of PURPOSE.

What is the overall PURPOSE of tutoring for this student (and for the parent of this student)?

When you think purpose, think motivation.

What motivates motivates is something my mentor told me years ago and it’s so true.

For one student, coming to tutoring might be motivated by a desire to get a “good enough” grade to stay on the football team.

“What Motivates Motivates.
— Dani Johnson

For another student, tutoring might actually be fun. A place where she can speak freely, share ideas that no one else listens to while at the same time, getting some help with pesky math problems or editing those essays for English.

Motivation is not right and it’s not wrong. It simply is.

One’s motivation is the PURPOSE behind all that one does.

Understanding your students' purpose and the parents' purpose will enable you to speak to their specific need(s).

When you do this, you make the student AND the parent feel important and special which in turn makes them loyal to you.

And makes them start to refer you and your tutoring business like crazy.

Here’s what Purpose looks like from a parent’s point-of-view.

Suzanne is a real estate agent. Her schedule is crazy and her livelihood depends on selling houses. In order to sell a house, she must show houses. Not just one or two, but many. And too many people. This takes time. Her husband also works and often travels out of town.

She has one son. She loves him and wants the best for him.

In her career, she uses math daily when drawing up contracts but never Algebra. Even multiplication and percent problems for loans or commissions, which she can do in her head, is double-checked on the calculator. Why? Because it has to be correct.

She’s been out of school for over fifteen years. She can’t help her son in math and science, she can manage, but she never liked it. She’s afraid when it comes time for Chemistry, with all the math involved, she’s be lost (and so would he with only her help).

Plus, when she gets home, she really just wants to kick off her shoes, cook dinner and enjoy time with her husband and son.

Her husband tried to work with his son on math, but tensions run high and most often the Dad gets frustrated.

Suzanne’s learned that the father, while good in math, is not the best solution as he too is tired after a long day. Plus, he doesn’t really remember what it’s like to not “get” something just from looking at it. He’s been in the “math/engineering” world so long, it’s almost second nature.

That’s where I (the tutor) come in.

Suzanne decided that she needed someone to help with her son to

  • keep the peace

  • have family time instead of rushing to get homework understood

  • because she just didn’t get how to do it, let alone how to explain it

Plus for Suzanne, she has expectations that her son will attend college. She feels that education is important and wants her son to have the best possible chance at a bright future. She knows that good grades and high test scores are a big part of that.

Suzanne is not buying “math tutoring.”

She is buying the outcome of no more frustration, peace in the house, homework done and understood (hopefully before dinner), time with her husband and son (outside of schoolwork), and forgiveness for inability to comprehend/explain/teach it to her son herself.

Whew! That’s a LOT from just Suzanne, the mom, right?!

Now if you sat down with Suzanne’s son, Logan, I’m sure you would get a very different answer as to why he’s attending tutoring.

Like his mom, Logan believes grades are important and knows he will probably go to college. But that is so far away and not his true motivation.

His motivation or PURPOSE for attending tutoring and trying his best is simple.

He wants to please his mom.

It’s not about math for Logan, or his future, at all. It’s all about his mom.

This is not unusual in younger kids and in some teens. But eventually, you will get other reasons or PURPOSE behind student’s attending tutoring and either working hard or not.

Remember Sarah? Her purpose or motivation is to please her mother and father, but it goes deeper.

Sarah is in 9th grade and she’s taking all AP and Honors classes, plus dancing four days a week with weekend competitions.

One doesn’t do all that just to please mom and dad.

Sarah is driven. She is curious. She is disciplined (probably partly because she’s been in dance for the last 6 years. I highly recommend dance or martial arts for children. More on that another time!)

Unlike Logan, Sarah has a PERSONAL PURPOSE or motivation for wanting to be in her tutoring session and do her best.

Knowing the parent’s purpose for hiring you for tutoring is just as important as knowing your student’s purpose. And they’re rarely the same!

Personal motivation is key to longevity, effort, and retention.

Your goal as a tutor is not just to teach math or writing skills or help with chemistry homework. Your work includes helping to show students that there is a PURPOSE in all they do (or should be).

Sometimes the student has a warped sense of their PURPOSE for being at tutoring.

One example of this is feeling “stupid” and, therefore, having to get “help” from a tutor.

While that is not their motivation or true purpose, it is a roadblock to their success in the form of a story that has to be addressed and eliminated – fast – so that tutoring can be of value.

And so they don’t spend their entire life in the story of “I am stupid.”

You can discover more on just what to say to students to help them overcome this “I must be stupid” point of view, plus how to help them develop motivation or PURPOSE that will serve them well in tutoring, school, and life in a series of upcoming articles.

To wrap up this series

Let’s summarize the P.O.P. Method so you can put it into action today.

Person – focus on the student by smiling, making eye contact, greeting them by name and asking a few questions with the goal of learning one new thing about them each session

Opportunity – look for the opening or opportunity to help, beyond just the subject matter they’re present to study that day, and offer a true learning experience of life lessons

Purpose – know the purpose of each session hour (what must be accomplished to be successful) and the overarching purpose or motivation for tutoring (from both the student and parent perspective)

And that’s it, folks.

Post a comment below on how this helped you and when you plan to implement it in your classroom or tutoring session. Or in your home!

Remember dialogue keeps the thoughts rolling and allows you to retain more, so post away.


Now I have a question for you…

In your own words, how can the P.O.P. Method help you in your tutoring session?

Recap or pick one thing you plan to take away and start implementing immediately in the comments below.

Share your plan of action and if you have any questions about the P.O.P. Method feel free to leave that in the comments as well.

And remember, learn something today you can share with someone tomorrow.

Make sure to sign up for The Education Lady Scoop to get weekly tips like these emailed right to your inbox.


As you may or may not know, this is one of many techniques I’ve developed to create a 6-figure tutoring business. More of my methods can be discovered in my premium training programs. But first, check out my free audio series today on How To Start a Successful & Profitable Tutoring Business.

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