Today, we’re gonna learn how to catch what seems to be better than Pokemons (in the context of online teaching), loyal students! Aright!! Loyal students are gems! Let me show you how they make our lives easier, and prosperous. Below is my teaching schedule for this week and 95% of these were booked by the same, loyal students.
See how they make our lives super awesome?! I want you to realize that putting much effort in this career will ultimately reward you not just financially, but professionally. It’s such a fulfillment knowing that your students trust you that much to book your lessons every time they have a chance to do it.
On the other hand, students get to learn English in a more enjoyable way with tutors whom they believe could help them achieve their goals. It’s totally a WIN-WIN situation for both sides.
But how do we turn each student to loyal ones? How do we catch ’em….all?
As educators, it starts with our objective to create a conducive environment for students. It involves breaking the obscurity and gradually transitioning each lesson to a certain level of familiarity.
The following strategies I’m about to share to you will help you establish good rapport and build a nourishing, fun, yet professional relationship with your students and hopefully turn them into gems.
1. Check your Student’s Preferences, ALWAYS.
You want to make a good first impression to your students. Checking their preferences will make you look prepared and sound more confident. However, not all students update their personal preferences so you need to verify and double check with the previous tutoring notes.
If the student takes random kinds of materials, prepare both and ask the student which one he/she prefers to use during the class.
2. Do your Research
Many intermediate to advance students take free conversations to put their knowledge and skills to the test. Research about upcoming holidays, celebrations, and current events. My favorite website is Japantoday.com. You’ll be surprised how opinionated Japanese students are provided you ask the right questions.
Check out these websites too:
Free Conversation topics – http://www.esldiscussions.com/
Lesson for kids:
3. Smile with your Eyes
Trust me. People can feel if the person they’re speaking to is smiling or not even without seeing them. In my case, I don’t smile the entire session. I practice smiling with my eyes and proper timing to create more impact. Especially for business students, some of them are really serious and most don’t use video on their end. So manage your smiley face if dealing with them for the first time.
4. Use Video in Lessons
This helps give face to your “perkiness”. Students can relate more to you if they can see your reaction, your gestures and the way you move your lips during word enunciation. What I love about our job is we don’t need to put much effort in the way we look. In my case, I just put on a nice collared top, tie my hair into a ponytail and pat a little powder on my face before teaching. Proper lighting and a plain clean background also do the trick.
5. Small Details Count
Maximize the use of your tutoring notes particularly the “Other Comments” portion. Although this mainly helps other tutors get a general idea about the student, it can also be your diary which can keep records of your interaction with that student. During the introduction part, I take note of their hobbies, pets and details that they share to me. If the information is too personal, I have my own way of “disguising” it in a way that it wouldn’t compromise the student’s privacy.
I swear by this technique. I teach 10-12 hours a day and I couldn’t possibly remember all my loyal students’ stories so I take note of those details. In the first place, they wouldn’t even share something personal if it wasn’t important to them e.g. preparing for an exam, upcoming business trip, etc.. As you know, Japanese people don’t talk much about their personal lives with others, so when they do share something to us and we remember it, they feel special. Try to put yourself in their shoes. If I shared to you that I rushed my pet cat to the hospital and after some weeks I booked your lesson again and you asked me, how my pet cat is doing, how would you feel about that tutor? Feels great right? Let your students experience that same feeling.
Our goal is to encourage our students to express themselves more. One way to make it happen is to let them share about things that they love and are passionate about.
6.Uplift their Spirits
We are trained to spot our student’s mistakes and correct them immediately or in a later time. This is important as this strategy can improve their fluency and accuracy in using the language. But we also want to show them that their efforts are gradually paying off. Each one of us has our own way of giving praises and feedback but the most crucial part is to be sincere about delivering them.
One thing that I do is I always ask my students to select 2-3 words whenever we encounter a list of new vocabulary words. Then, I request them to make sentences using those words. I type in the chat box each sentences that they dictate whether it’s right or wrong. After reading what they constructed, I tell them, “Good job, student-san. This is a correct sentence!”. I truly believe this simple act can help enhance their confidence and self-esteem.
7. Recite with Feelings
Many of our teaching materials have role-playing exercises and this is usually my favorite part. To make things more interesting, I try to internalize and portray the character being described in a situation. For example, if it says that the dialogue features a customer complaining about the product and the student needs to pacify that client, I read the lines as if I was an actual irate customer. It’s fun because when you do that, it somehow compels the student to do the same thing and acts as if they were the customer service representative. English is not just about reading and narrating words plainly. It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it also matters. As early as now, we should impart that to our students as well.
It doesn’t usually go well the first time. After the first try, I give them my feedback and some helpful tips to make the conversation sound more natural and smooth flowing and then we do it again for the second time. Ninety percent of the time, the second try is much better than the first one. Again, this simple act is another confidence booster!
8. Open Classes Regularly
I usually open lesson slots one day in advance. Students are more likely to book sessions with tutors who often conduct regular classes during their preferred time slots.
9. Say your Student’s Name Often
In Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he mentioned how essential it is to remember or say a person’s name in establishing good relationships. To put it in his words:
Using a person’s name is crucial, especially when meeting those we don’t see very often. Respect and acceptance stem from simple acts such as remembering a person’s name and using it whenever appropriate. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Citing a short snippet from the article, The Power of Using Someone’s Name:
When we say a person’s name we are telling those who listen how important they are to us. If that person is in the conversation they will most certainly pick up on this. With every mention of their name they will turn towards you, they will remember how you make them feel and the frequency will denote their importance to you in the context of how you have made them feel. If you instill a series of positive feelings in someone with every mention of their name by the end of the conversation they will be under a very real impression you are connected to them in a positive way.
We can take this to our advantage and apply this principle to forge stronger connections with our students. Of course, saying a person’s name needs to be used in moderation. It’s all in the right timing.
10. End with a Bang!
Just like adventures, lessons also need a good ending. Use the sandwich method when giving a feedback strength+points for improvement+suggestions. If earlier they shared that they will watch a movie with their friends, I tell them to enjoy the show before the lesson ends and that I’m looking forward to talk to them again next time. Say it because you mean it.
I also urge you to allot 1-2 minutes of your lesson time to summarize your feedback using this pattern that I learned from my BCC (Business Course Conversation) training.
I prepare this pattern in a notepad and after typing my corrections to the student’s chat box, I immediately copy-paste it to the notepad. This is also very helpful in accomplishing your tutoring notes on time.
In conclusion, it’s all about building relationships. These strategies if done properly will definitely help you get your best foot forward and be bookmarked by students. Focus on quality and quantity will follow. Balance friendliness with professionalism.
Find your unique traits and capitalize on those to capture a niche market e.g. kids, elderly, business people, teens, homemakers, etc.. And when you already have loyal students, take care of them and don’t be too complacent. Maintain the same level of excellence in conducting your lessons with them.
Lastly, concentrate on yourself and how you can genuinely help your students because these are within your circle of influence. Everything else is out of your control and it will only frustrate you to even worry about them. I hope I was able to inspire you with this post. Our students deserve nothing but the best from us. I wish you well in this career!
Happy hunting! ♥
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