4. What is a literacy tutor?

A tutor in an adult literacy program is a volunteer instructor who helps adult students achieve their literacy goals in a private, confidential setting. Most adult literacy students can only recall bad experiences in school, and they are often reluctant to discuss or reveal their learning problems to their boss or even their families. As an empathetic and caring tutor, you can break down these barriers by offering customized and remedial instruction at a pace that allows your students to gain confidence as they experience increasing success in learning.


Optional Links (Click on the following links to learn more about tutoring.)

  1. Definition of a tutor
  2. Benefits of tutoring
  3. Characteristics of a good tutor
  4. The tutoring environment



Optional: If you are curious about what tutoring is like, please watch this 4-minute video on YouTube of tutors talking about tutoring:


Points to ponder (Required for new tutors)

Consider the pros and cons of tutoring a student at a neutral site away from your office and your student's home. How would your student feel if you came overdressed for the tutoring session? Why?

137 comments:

Program Coordinator said...

A neutral site provides a more relaxed and comfortable setting because it removes liability, obligation, responsibility and insecurities for the student and tutor.

Kim Shelor said...

For me, this is a catch 22. Some students may feel inferior or intimidated to a tutor who is "overdressed". Some students may expect a degree of professionalism. It may be hard to avoid this if a tutor is coming directly from a job where he/she is required to dress professionally. All of that aside, tutoring in a place that is not neutral really isn't an option for me for the reasons stated in this segment. Further, I really appreciate the emphasis on learner centered, as well as the clear definitions and explanations of tutoring and the associated lingo.

Cynthia said...

Other than the obvious, already mentioned reasons, a neutral environment allows for a neutral tone to the learning environment. A student could feel a sense of authority by an overdressed tutor. This could be perceived by the student as the tutor's attempt to "be the boss." This could be harmful to the student's ability to trust and develop self-confidence in him/herself.

zane said...

A neutral sight puts both student and tutor on the same level of unfamiliar territory. This addresses the necessity of a certain seperation in attitude and dress to identify the tutor, to put the student in a confident ease. Over-dressed is definitely too much added stress on the situation for both student and tutor. I would want a relaxed learning atmosphere with a certain degree of professionalism.

Catherine said...

I would want the first impression I make to be one where the student feels at ease, where there's no judgement. I think it best to dress clean and orderly as a sign of respect to the student. Other than this, I think being dressed in semi-relaxed attire (jeans) to create a comfortable environment is the best way to go so the student doesn't worry about any judgement.

Queen Of My Castle said...

In reference to the neutrality of the site, I agree wholeheartedly with the previous posts. In regards to dress, I have one additional comment. In our very rural county where 24% of adults read below a fifth grade level, it is also not uncommon for students to live in the poverty level and in many cases, unfortunately a state of uncleanliness. I feel that even though we are dealing with adults who deserve the utmost respect for attempting to learn to read at a later age, it sometimes doesn't hurt to set the proper example as well!

tutorgirl said...

I agree with previous posts regarding a neutral setting. It makes sense to meet in a visible and accessible place. Most of our tutoring occurs in the public libraries. It would seem to me this would also be a sfety issue for both the tutor and student.

As far as attire, I feel a tutor being overdressed could make the learner feel insecure. Clean and neat would be a priority. If a tutor has come from work they could explain that to a learner and encourage them to dress comfortably. The learner might also have to come directly fdrom work and could be in uniform or other work attire.

Shannon said...

A neutral site such as the library seems to be the best place for the comfort of the tutor and the student. The student won't have to worry about cleaning up for the tutor or worry about what the tutor thinks of their home. I think comfortable attire is best, although as one person stated this can be difficult for those going to tutoring right after work.

Joanna said...

Meeting at a neutral site makes it easier to focus on the task at hand, rather than get distracted by family or work. Were the tutor to arrive overdressed, the student might feel slightly intimidated. It's important to look nice and professional, I think. That way it shows to your student that your work is important to you and you take their learning seriously.

Biltz said...

I agree with previous posts, neutral site is best as well as one that is easy for the student to get to!
The issue of dress seems somewhat common sense-clean, neat, and leave the Brooks Brothers suit at home....

Kellydog said...

A neutral meeting place allows the learning procss to be the most important element for a session rather than the surroundings. Being overdressed might intimidate a student who would feel he/she should be prepared for a more formal lesson or should be wealthier and dress for the occasion.

BOC said...

A neutral site is best so that neither the student or the tutor is distracted by other obligations.
I think that the tutor should be sure to dress in neat but casual clothing, so that the student is more likely to feel comfortable. Adult students may already be dealing with feelings of insecurity or inadequacy, so you surely don't want to do anything to add to their discomfort.

David H. said...

The student might feel inadequate by someone who is overdressed. It's just a matter of perception. I feel inferior at times around co workers who wear suits or around people who appear to have things that I don't. But in reality, we are all just the same. Though we all have the same rights and the same potential, we can trick ourselves into feeling inferior and miss great opportunities to do great things right in front of us. I'll keep that in mind as I approach working with a student.

Jesse said...

The most important aspect of the environment is whether or not the student feels comfortable. I'm not sure that the clothes we wear will really be an issue. I would expect that the student would rather us be well dressed than shabbily clothed.

lillian said...

A neutral site and professional will be best 90% of the time.

Pat said...

completed 3/26/09

Jenny said...

With my students often being homeless--the way I dress will communicate acceptance. I will wear very casual clothes because being overdressed could cause them to view me as too different from them. We will be meeting in the basement of a church near where they live. This neutral site will be a big part in helping them muster up the courage to step through the door.

natalie said...

I think a neutral site is important to maintain a professional relationship and to ensure an environment that is free from distractions.
A student may feel intimidated by an overdressed tutor, although I think it's important to appear neat and somewhat professional.

Laura said...

I think it's important to make the student feel comfortable, but also to look professional. I think attire that is relaxed yet clean and neat is appropriate.

Ms. Ovette said...

The neutral site does not have to be a library. One might consider a picnic table in a park, or a table in a coffeeshop. If the student has had problems learning in an "official" setting, perhaps settings like these might suggest that this time things will be different and the student will succeed. As far as clothing is concerned, I think clean and neat fit the bill. It's good also to be mindful of cultural sensitivities. Modesty in dress is probably a good idea.

Fernando said...

unconfortable,out of context, they would feel "underdressed", but if you show up always dressed like that they would just get used to it, it is the attitude that you have towards them the important part not what you are wearing, of course in the expected limits.

demelza99 said...

A student could feel intimated by an 'overdressed' tutor; however, on the other hand, a tutor who is well dressed could give the impression of efficiency. Further, what is overdressed for one may not be overdressed for another, so it's all relative.

Paula said...

Discussion between tutor and learner is crucial to establish what setting is comfortable, safe and neutral. Dress attire is generally based on professional standards (suite, scrubs, uniform shirt) so a brief mention of this in the meet and greet session could alleviate any future uneasiness.

Shea said...

A neutral setting is the best because it takes stress off of tutor and learner in terms of knowing boundaries. A neutral setting is also more professional and shows he learner that you are their to tutor not to just pal around (even though as level of friendship is good). Dress is a different issue. Like the learners, the tutors also have jobs and other obligations that require them to dress a certain way and they may not have the time to change clothes before a session. Being overdress can send the wrong message to the learner, but neither learner nor tutor should judge each other. It should be understood that since both are partners in this learning experience, they are equals,with each having something to learn from the other.

Lisa said...

The real question in this segment is how a tutor should teach another adult. We have been brought up in school to know that the teacher is the authority in the classroom and the children learn because they are told to. Since both tutor and learner are adults, they are of equal standing in such authority. So the trick is to make the learner comfortable so that by his own authority he makes the choice to cooperate with the tutor. The comments made in this segment have covered the use of neutral site and dressing to make this happen.

Consider another psychological technique for establishing rapport with an interlocutor. It is called mirroring, where one person subtly follows the movements of the other. For example, when one crosses his legs, the other will cross his legs a few seconds later. This suggests empathy. Another technique to lean forward when the other party is talking. This suggests great interest in the person. Both techniques should help to establish cooperation.

Cherry said...

A public neutral space removes one stress, the feeling of being judged by one's environment or possessions, learner OR tutor. It also detaches the person from immediate family distractions. The physical effort of going to this place also gives one a break between regular life and the learning environment.
As for dress, I intend to try to signal that I am cheerful, approachable, and competent, but the specifics will depend on the level of sophistication of my learner.

Denise said...

I think it would depend on the leaner, and where he/she is in their life, whether upper class, middle class, or lower class. If I came to a session over dressed, and my learner wasn't dressed up, it could make that person feel uncomfortable. If someone is uncomfortable, it's possible they won't get much out of the session. However, if I came under dressed and my learner was over dressed, I would feel like I' not displaying a certain degree of professionalism.

dianer said...

I agree with characteristics of a good tutor. The benefits of tutoring adult learners can be lifelong.
The environment is out of my control since it is at local school.

Dixie Lee said...

I like the idea of promoting trust and mutual respect and look forward to getting to know my Learner on our first and subsequent visits. Hopefully, I will be given background information about my Learner by the Program Coordinator and that should help me decide how to dress for the session(s); however,I don't think you can go wrong with neatness, cleanliness, good body language and a smile.

JWKing said...

Tutoring at a site that is neutral is the only way to tutor! The goal is for the tutor and learner to focus on each other and the work the tutor has prepared for the learner to do. If either is in a familiar home or work setting, there would be distractions that would not allow for that focus they both need. The tutor needs to come in casual, comfortable clothing which will also set the tone for the session they will have...easy going, learner-led, and flexible.

Susan G. said...

Having a specific time & place to meet for tutoring tends to enhance the commitment to the sometimes overwhelming task at hand....for both the learner and the tutor!

Kevin Giedd said...

Meeting at an neutral site may help solve scheduling conflicts. Neutral sites can be used as resources, too.

Kristin said...

A neutral site is the same thing as meeting on neutral ground where no one has to feel inferior to the other person and a relationship can begin to grow from a level of equality. After all, as much as the adult learner will learn from the tutor, the tutor should in turn take knowledge from this arrangement as well. This is also why a tutor should not come to a session dressed as teacher in a classroom setting would. A classroom is not a neutral site. When teacher is overdressed and stands up near a chalkboard, her students are supposed to look up to her. Whereas the tutor wants to build a relationship of trust and equality which can only be obtained by starting on even ground - dressed the same and all :-)

Mardet said...

Neutral sites are idea locations. No matter where you end up meeting, however, establishing a rapport with the student and being comfortable to discuss the issues he or she is feeling remains top priority through out.

Lia Keston said...

A neutral setting helps to minimize the possibility that the tutor might seem to be in a position of "power". I agree completely with the post regarding the possibility that students may come from lower-income backgrounds and therefore feel initimidated or diminished by an overdressed or overly formal tutor.

phyllis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beth said...

A neutral site removes distractions and expectations attached to sites that the learner and/or tutor associate with other activities. I agree with everyone here that overdressing can be intimidating, but i also think it can be off-putting as a marker that the tutor doesn't really know how to dress appropriately for different situations.

sandy said...

What a silly question! How do I feel when somebody at a party is dripping in jewels and finery and talks about their cruise through the Panama Canal. It is no different than a tutor showing up "outclassing" their students.

Anne said...

I think a neutral site would make the student and tutor feel like they're on equal ground-- it's not too formal like an office or as invasive as going over to the student's house and then telling them what to do. Overdressing could make the learner feel uncomfortable or out of place, making it harder for them to relax around you.

Charlie said...

To avoid the perception of being cocky or overly arrogant, the tutor should not show up to the tutoring sessions overdressed. Simply being clean and neat is professional enough, but will not make the learner feel uncomfortable.

As far as location goes, a neutral location such as a library could be good, but also tutoring from an office would give the impression of having it together, and all resources would be easily available.

Prunella said...

About neutral sites, I have nothing but positive feelings-- as long as there is some degree of quiet. Neat and clean would seem the safest and least threatening attire for a first meeting.

Mutahara said...

A neutral site provides a learning environent. The learner knows that they are their to learn and will focus better. As far as the overdressed tutor, it all depends upon the culture and background from where the student is from. In many cultures around the globe, instructors are figures of authority and respect. They are expected to dress the part. However in some Western countries, adults feel less intimidated if they are tutored by someone who dresses in simple clothes.
I would suggest a balance between the two. Tutors should dress in a tasteful and neat manner.

Marian said...

Neat, clean, neutral, and hopefully a temperature that does not distract by discomfort.

IJM said...

I agree with Kim -- being overdressed can certainly be intimidating, but also shows that the tutor takes their role seriously. On the flipside, being dressed too formally may also make the learner feel out-of-place and uncomfortable, any may unnecessarily highlight attributes of privilege. The cons of tutoring in a neutral environment are taking the learner and tutor away from comfort zones, although a definite pro is establishing a learning zone away from home and work commitments; the learner and tutor may be better able to focus on the lesson without those environmental factors.

Julia said...

Student might feel that tutor is focussing more attention on the tutor than on the student. Student might also feel intimidated and distracted.

aileen a said...

Dressing neatly and modestly works well in almost every situation-and this one especially; of course, like many posts suggest, I think attitude is the most important tool for increasing comfort and creating good rapport. Stiff, formal and unapproachable in jeans isn't better than down-to-earth and kind in a suit (if the tutor had to come from work or something).

Kareemah said...

Regarding being over-dressed, it seems at least the consciousness that one's appearance in clothing is important and may have an effect on the learner is necessary. And then, by design, by attitude and by articulation, if necessary, make the effort to make sure the learner is at ease with you and themselves in this area. Words I would choose for guidelines for myself would be modesty, simplicity, cleanliness.

The neutral site helps equalize the situation between the learner and tutor, and in a public environment there may be more secure feelings, which in turn lead to comfort and confidence, focus and more chance for a successful outcome.

Kareemah said...

I realized the question was how do you think your student would feel if I came overdressed. It has been my experience that 'appearing professional' or even 'a nice outfit' can be intimidating. This happened to me with a child living in an environment of poverty. When they saw me in more non-matching clothes, they immediately warmed up to me. I do not mean that a standard should be lowered, but rather it is important to realize the possibility of a negative effect and try to mitigate it.

Linda said...

First impressions are important. It can either help you or put up "road blocks" to your relationship with your student. Over-dressed may intimedate people. So clean, relaxed, casual, but neat & well groomed seems the way to go.

Joyce said...

Meeting at a neutral site allows you and the learner to start your relationship on an even keel. You set up the expectation that this is a larning environment and while you respect each other's personal lives, both the tutor and larner can share what they want from their personal lives as they feel comfortable doing so. The first meeting, the tutor should be professional but not showy. After you and the learner meet, then you may find comon grounds, and if showy dress is comfortable for both of you-- fine. However, you want to focus on the learning to take place and not let the session become a fashion show. Use good judgment along with knowing your learner.

Ms. Educator said...

The purpose of a remote location is to put both parties on an equal playing field. If you show up over-dressed, it may eliminated that feeliing of being "equal". It can sometimes be viewed as intimidating, and already, you've dislocated yourself from your adult learner.

newtutortrainee said...

A neutral location makes both parties involved more relaxed and comfortable. The same can be said for the tutor's appearance. A somewhat neutral appearance is best to avoid distracting the student in some way or causing some sort or negative response to the tutor's appearance.

franbabineau said...

A neutral location is best because both the learner and the student do not have any advantage. Being dressed cleanly and neatly always creats a good impressin

FCP said...

Attire is a non-verbal indicator that can initialize expectations. For example, in my previous career it was expected that I would be dressed in a coat and tie. My professional standing would be impacted if I were "underdressed." The tutoring environment may be impacted not only be being "overdressed" but also in being "underdressed". Tutors in T-shirts, logos, "funny" writing, and worn/stained clothes would definitely, in my opinion, be underdressed.

karenzpt said...

I think the previous comments have said it all. A neutral setting for comfort and safety, and a clean and neat appearance that is not overdressed or distracting.

joephil said...

Neutrality of site helps to avoid irrelevant distractions. There will be enough concerns with establishing a level of comfort without having to deal with perceptions of site. Dress: yes appropriate dress is important, but not nearly so important as being genuine and expressing an appreciation for the learner and the fact that the learner is there and wants to learn.

Terry said...

Conducting lessons in a neutral, public space is ostensibly the best practice when considering safety, impartiality and liability, among other things. When considering the type of clothes to wear to a lesson, I would suggest meeting the learner first in order to assess the level of formality that would be most conducive to a positive learning environment and a trusting relationship. In my opinion, appropriate attire is that which best fosters trust, cooperation and the desire to learn.

Lynn said...

I think if I came overdressed, the student might feel intimidated, but at the same time I don't want to underdress; I wouldn't want them to think that I'm minimizing what we'll be doing together. The word that jumpted out at me from the video was "ally". And Mr. Purdy in the last segment gave a concrete piece of advice about setting expectations in the first session. I do that all the time at work, and I think that will be a useful thing to do with the student - we'll work together on mutual expectations (with the understanding that we can revisit them as we go along.) I'm very happy about going to a neutral site for the 3 reasons stated.

Ksalud said...

neutral spot at first and then move on depending on lewarner. better to be underdressed, but neat in appearance

neg said...

I want to teach reading not dressing well. The place I feel is for our safety and otherwise unimportant.

Laurie said...

A neutral site and appropriate dress are important for the same the reasons. The focus is on learning. Personal settings can create distractions. Over dressing can send mixed messages about what we're here for. Appropriate dress and neutral setting will help create a special, learning only environment.

TGLowe said...

A neutral site makes the playing field more level. We can both leave our other responsibilities and worries behind us for a short time. I should dress appropriately to help make the student comfortable and open to learning.

Meghan said...

I think a neutral site, like a library, is somewhere where a student can be comfortable without feeling that they are either interloping into an unfamiliar sphere or without feeling the weight of home responsibilities. Being nicely, but not overly so, dressed helps maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect without enforcing a sense of social/educational disparity.

SNelson said...

If the student feels the tutor is over dressed, this would indicate the student feels
1)under dressed
2)may feel self conscious
3)feelings of inferior
4)begin to feel lectured to rather than sharing a partnership
Never to forget that respect for diversity in race, class and religion will prove to be invaluable in tutoring.

sefutrell said...

Meeting at a neutral site allows the tutor sessions to be professional and relaxed, because the site's atmosphere is removed from the personal elements of either the tutor or the student's homes.

If a tutor arrives overdressed to a session, the student may feel intimidated. This could make teaching the student difficult, and it could also inhibit the development of a friendly relationship between the student and the tutor.

Ronna said...

Tutoring at a neutral site can benefit the learner by providing a familiar, relaxed environment. Sites such as libraries or other public areas put the tutor and the learner in a safe, unbiased environment.

As for overdressing, I feel as though I put my learner more at ease by simply being dressed in a professional fashion but not necessarily overdressed.

Danielle said...

I think many times the tutee might feel inferior. Although, I do feel it is very important for the tutor to dress professionally in order to be a good example, the tutor can do so in an humbling manner.

BlueDolphin said...

A neutral site can allow for a smoother facilitation of the tutoring process as both student and tutor can be free from distractions. There is, however, the possibility that it may cause discomfort for the student due to the lack of familiarity. On the tutor overdressing for the session, the student would most likely become uncomfortable as he would see his tutor as a "superior" and thus intimidating. Such feelings would get into the way of successful tutoring.

Carissa Priebe said...

It is so important to make the student feel comfortable; If I look back through my own education, I can see a real difference in my learning learning from professors who I disliked and felt awkward communicating with, as compared to professors who I felt a certain camaraderie with, and the hand inevitably goes to the latter category.

karen said...

I feel that a neutral environment is necessary in order for both parties to be at ease, but tutors are then away from instructors and materials. An overdressed tutor could make a student feel inferior or intimidated, but being clean, having a neat appearance, and NOT having bad breath are important.

Betsy said...

Coming overdressed might be intimidating for your student. Comfortable clothing but not sloppy says "I am ready to work and I am not concerned about judging."

msladyj said...

A neutral site such as a library would be the best choice for both the student and the tutor. There could be too many distractions in a home setting. This way both can concentrate on the task at hand. Being overdressed should be avoided whenever possible. Being clean, neat and professional will work in all settings.

Megan N said...

If you come overdressed to a tutoring session then the student may feel like the tutor is trying to be better then them, it also seems a bit flashy, when the tutoring session should make them feel at ease, not as if they are trying to "dress to impress."

Linda A said...

Linda A. People who never learned to read or finish school can be intimidated by others if they come to a session dressed in expensive clothing or jewelry. Many may already have self-esteem issues and they do not want to feel their tutor is looking down at them.

Kenneth Zen Bodhi said...

A neutral site is key for a number of reasons, one is our own protection and the protection of the organization. In addition, its important to not overdress and possibly put the individual in an uncomfortable situation. We want to have the student feel comfort not intimidation.

lizbeth rakaczky said...

Working at a neutral location allows the student and teacher to be less distracted by other people and personal clutter. Wearing clothing and jewelry that symolizes status creates an uncomfortable environment where trust cannot grow.

LG said...

I agree with many of the other bloggers: over-dressing places a new tutor in a superior position vis-a-vis the student. I believe very strongly in trying to put the student at ease, in a comfortable position, so want to use language, body language and dress that conveys that idea. I think clean, neat casual clothing is appropriate for meeting one's student.

LG said...

I agree with many of the other bloggers: over-dressing places a new tutor in a superior position vis-a-vis the student. I believe very strongly in trying to put the student at ease, in a comfortable position, so want to use language, body language and dress that conveys that idea. I think clean, neat casual clothing is appropriate for meeting one's student.

Teiji Epling said...

The pros of tutoring a student at a neutral site would include minimizing distractions, making it feel more like the endeavor requires planning and effort, and providing an academic ambiance. The cons would include the possibility of making the student feel uncomfortable in an unfamiliar setting and possibly making them stressed about transportation and the planning involved. I think coming overdressed could make the student feel uncomfortable or intimidated, and therefore believe casual, more relatable attire would be more appropriate for this situation.

Megan said...

Over-dressing for a tutoring lesson sends a message that the tutor is in a position of authority or a superior position than the student. Many adult learners may have self-esteem issues and this could serve to aggravate them. Dressing in a casual manner will back up the tutor's attitude of being on the same level as the student -- someone to help, not to be intimidated by.

Debbie said...

They might feel that the over-dressed tutor had somewhere else to be that was more important than their tutoring session. I don't think that over-dressing conveys superiority though. The student might also feel that their tutoring session must be very important to their tutor since they look so well dressed.

Genevieve McCall said...

I think being over-dressed might intimidate the student, and communicate a distance with their tutor. The goal should be to make the student feel relaxed, and also inspire confidence in your competency. Non-verbal communication establishes the first impression. By dressing in business casual, or casual attire that is still neat and clean, it communicates that you're there to work toward a common goal, and is makes it easier to relate.

sinhue herrera said...

I think the most important thing is to make the student feel comfortable, they dont want to feel like they are with a teacher, but I guess you cant "act as their friend"

?Just act natural and be relaxed, well, that's what I think.

John Lynch said...

I agree that a neutral setting is potentially more comfortable and less intimidating. I also tend to think that overdressing might make the learner feel the tutor is an "authority figure", and so he or she might be less comfortable.

Rosa Solano said...

If you are overdressed it is intimidating for the student and makes it harder on him or her to concentrate on the task at hand.

Dan said...

Although I agree that a neutral site is positive, being overdressed may contribute to a learner's feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy. They may feel underdressed.

Ajfae said...

It's important for a tutor to be humble. I would feel intimidated if I had a tutor that was overdressed or overdone. On the other hand, I would question the tutor's competency if they were under dressed. I think the best way to go is the middle road. Appear respectable, yet humble.

The location should be comfortable and also not intimidating.

Audrey

Dev Aaron said...

Dress should be cheerful, neat and clean to show respect for the person and the task at hand but should not make too strong a statement. A neutral site allows each person to feel equally at home in the location.

Tana said...

First, it would be distracting. Students would likely wonder why the fancy attire, should they be in fancy attire? In turn, making the student feel uncomfortable.

Locs of Patience said...

I think coming overdressed would distract the student because they would feel intimidated. Perhaps even inferior which would interfere with their learning process. You want the student to feel like an equal.

mayraeg89 said...

A neutral site creates an atmosphere that is comfortable for both the tutor and student. As long as the attire is respectful and appropriate for both sides it should not be an issue.

Drew Beverly said...

Neutral sites provides a more relaxed environment for tutoring. Neutral sites also prevents distracts for the student.

Kashayla R. said...

Speaking on this scenario, there are two sides to this coin. By being "overdressed," the tutor will appear professional and in a position of authority. It would put on a great impression to the students, fellow colleagues, and people on the outside looking in. On the flip side, some students may find the overall image intimidating and may perceive the tutor as a bit uptight. A neutral environment is best for both tutor and tutee(s) because it makes them feel more comfortable and relaxed.

B. Todd said...

Like the last speaker said, it is important to establish a relationship of trust and mutual respect. It is also important to make people feel comfortable and appreciated. When people see that you care about them, they will be open to hear you and learn through you.

B. Todd said...

Like the last speaker said, it is important to establish a relationship of trust and mutual respect. It is also important to make people feel comfortable and appreciated. When people see that you care about them, they will be open to hear you and learn through you.

Kirsti said...

A neutral setting helps to put the tutor and student on even ground, minimizing discomfort on both sides. A tutor should find a balance between being careless with his or her appearance and being overdressed, maintaining that this event is important to them and holding a degree of professionalism while at the same time not making the student feel uncomfortable or inferior.

lisakay said...

When the tutor and the student meet someplace that they are both comfortable -- a neutral location -- the focus can be on the learning and not other distractions and formalities. I hadn't thought much about my attire as a tutor. I want to dress well enough to show that I am serious about what we are doing, but not in a way that my student might find intimidating, disrespectful or distracting.

Lyssa W said...

I was always taught that it is not my job to extend my "attitudes" or "politics", or in any way shape or form to come across with any "judgments". There is no place for these when your goal is to put someone else at ease.

Kelli Nicholson said...

An overdressed tutor may remind the participant of a school teacher rather than someone who is there to help.

Michelle Walker said...

A neutral site provides privacy and a comfortable atmosphere. Being overdressed could intimidate the participant, they may feel less than or feel you think you are looking down on them.

Rebekka said...

I agree that a neutral learning site is best. I like what the learning prompt states about it "setting the tone for learning."

I have always been more of a casual dresser, but I think that there should be some degree of professionalism when choosing clothing for a tutoring session. For me I think business casual is the best option.

Allison Smith said...

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I would feel that the student was seeking to make a good first impression through overdressing; however, it is unnecessary. Dressing up marks a position of authority; however, this is unnecessary when both the student and tutor are adults. Both the student and tutor should dress more casually to display a neutral learning environment.












Sara Lindley said...

Video was very helpful. Completed.

Sara Lindley said...

To dress too well is not uplifting the student. It would be like wearing a tux to the rodeo. You stand out and creates a distraction..

Sara Lindley said...

To dress too well is not uplifting the student. It would be like wearing a tux to the rodeo. You stand out and creates a distraction..

Sara Lindley said...

To dress too well is not uplifting the student. It would be like wearing a tux to the rodeo. You stand out and creates a distraction..

Stefanie Craig said...

How the tutor dresses can definitely affect the adult learner's perception of the tutor. I think it is important to find a balance between "too dressy" and "too casual" when choosing attire. Dressing very casual may make the adult learner feel at ease, however, it is also important to establish a teacher-learner relationship and defined roles. Dressing in business casual may be the best option to show professionalism yet not make the learner feel uncomfortable with "too dressy" attire. Many of my adult learners are still teenagers or young adults in the 18-22 age range. It is very important with these learners in particular to establish defined roles of teacher and learner.

Lucie-Gabrielle Jolicoeur said...

I think a tutor being overdressed might betray other obligations either before of after the tutoring session. This might make the student feel that he is intruding in your busy schedule.

Susan P. said...

I really like the neutral site idea - it also offers a level playing field for learner and tutor. I think your learner should be able to see and feel your commitment through your interactions. It will be hardest to get started for me. I am shy and I cover with a confident (sometimes overbearing) attitude. I really want to meet the learner on a basis of "you have goals; I want to help you reach them". Video was very helpful.

Michael O said...

Being overdressed may make the participant feel threatened. If you are too formal, you may represent the same types of authority figures that have not provided the participant with resources he/she needed in the past.

Katie Redmiles said...

I feel like if the tutor was overdressed it might intimidate the student and make them feel inferior or shaky in their confidence.

Robert D said...

Being overdressed will definitely shut the student down mentally. While a child see's a teacher who may be dressed up and not think anything about it, an adult is the opposite. They may feel like one is snubbing their nose at them or even thinking of them as not an adult. We are to be of service not of hindrance.

Raechon C. said...

Some participants could feel threatened or intimidated by a well dressed tutor. However, I feel that looking professional, especially during and initial meeting, conveys an important message. It says that you respect them and their time and take their education seriously.

An overdressed participant is telling me that they too have respect for this process and the help they are receiving. Some people firmly believe that one should dress, not for your current job position or station in life, but for the one to which you aspire.

MaShonda Macklin said...

The learner/participant should feel comfortable with receiving tutoring services. The environment should foster learner. I recommend somewhere quiet and neutral. Meeting at the participant's home may put the tutor in danger, but it may also produce too many distractions for the participant.

If I were to show up to a session overdressed, I may cause the participant to be uncomfortable. I may remind the participant of a school teacher or intimidate them by overdressing. I think we should both be dressed comfortable and casual.

Wallace West said...

I believe the student would have many questions that may just linger around in their minds and take their mind off of the leaner experience. For instance, Did I forget or do they have somewhere they need to be instead of here? But this is not to say you can't dress up for the occasion as long as you make the participant aware of the situation such as, this is how I normally dress but you are free to dress to any respectable degree of comfort.

Jessie said...

I think that one of the most important aspects of the tutor/student relationship is finding a degree of comfort for both parties so as to foster a safe and healthy learning environment. If one party is feeling uncomfortable in the chosen location, it will hinder the learning process. It is important to find a neutral environment with as few distractions as possible so that the tutor and student can be successful.

Additionally, it is important to dress appropriately without being overdressed. While there may be times that a tutor is coming from work or from another obligation that mandated dressing nicely, in general, a tutor should try not to be overdressed as the students may feel intimidated or otherwise distracted by the tutors apparel. Finding an appropriate middle ground in attire and/or explaining to a student the reason for your overdress could be helpful in addressing these issues.

Joanne Higginbotham said...

After reading the comments, I realize that people can be intimidated by teachers, which is what I am. I will make sure that I hopefully set the person at ease by letting them know I'm the nice kind of teacher ; )
Over dressing can be off putting for some, making an effort to meet the person at their level is the best way I know to make someone at ease. I am hopeful that the library is a good place to meet with few distractions for both of us.

Chad said...

Overdressing will potentially make the student feel uncomfortable. You're trying to build a relationship with someone who is already in a uncomfortable position.

Delores Kimbrough said...

We communicate verbally and nonverbally. "Over" dressing for any situation sends a message to others that we are not socially adept and can impact respect and relationship building.

CLC Program Manager said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CLC Program Manager said...

The penchant for "power" suits and high end fashion in US culture has no place in a common ground, nurturing, tutoring environment. Neat, clean and casual dress contributes to a comfortable and more "SUIT"able learning situation.

Regina Cook said...

There is no benefit toward overdressing, as it is a risk toward intimidating a student who is likely anxious.

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Pamela Lee said...

While a neutral site such as a library offers the convenience of resource material and possibly a quieter setting, it could be intimidating to a student who doesn't frequent a library. People tend to be more comfortable in a familiar setting. The neutral site offers safety to both student and tutor.

Being overdressed as a tutor may also intimidate a student. I believe the tutor should dress accordingly to the student if possible.

Ragini Annesha Basu said...

As someone new to tutoring, my first concern was where to hold the sessions. I decided to meet at a local library. After reading this module, I am concerned that a library might not offer enough privacy. Maybe a place with more background noise, where conversations cannot easily be overheard, would put the student at ease.

I hadn't thought about overdressing being a problem either. That could definitely set a bad tone for the session if the student is not dressed as formally. I planned to go to the sessions straight from work, so perhaps I should bring a change of clothes to work with me so I have something more casual to wear to the sessions.

Chris Leslie said...

a neutral site is best at least until a good relationship has been built. With regard to dress code I agree that there are dangers of both over and under dressing. I would probably show up in a collared shirt but not a full on suit.

Jacob Doyle said...

A neutral site is best due to the fact that there are no assumptions available to be made on either side. Overdressing may intimidate an adult learner or create an inferiority complex.

Esther Lapitan said...

Consider the pros and cons of tutoring a student at a neutral site away from your office and your student's home. How would your student feel if you came overdressed for the tutoring session? Why?


Tutoring at my home has both negative and positive benefits. By tutoring at my home, the student might feel more comfortable because they are out of public and not being seen learning to read. They also would feel closer to me as a person thus possibly creating trust and/or respect. The negative side of tutoring at home would be that they might not take the lessons as seriously. They migth also learn more than you want about you as a person. Without knowing the student, they might think that you are closer to them on a personal level than you are comfortable with. Informality can be positive or negative depending on the specific student.

When it comes to dressing for a tutoring session, you don't want to intimidate your student. You want to be clean cut and professional, but you need to be relatable without losing your look of authority. You can usually gage the type of clothing that is appropriate for each student by what they are wearing on the first session.

Penny Speidel said...

I think it's an excellent idea to tutor at a neutral location. Although the student may be close to the tutor in age, it's still important to establish a teacher/student relationship. The student will be more inclined to invest in the process if he/she feels the tutor is a professional. Additionally, there's a difference between being "friendly" and being a "friend" to the student. It would be much more difficult to establish these boundaries in a home setting.

There is a chance that a student may be intimidated by a tutor who appears to be overdressed. On the other hand, the tutor needs to maintain a professional image, so old jeans and sweatpants aren't a good idea either!

Carol R said...

A neutral site doesn't set up any questions about who has more or less stuff or wealth. It could be quite intimidating for both tutor and adult student. As to overdressing, what would be the point? Seems it could only make the student feel quite uncomfortable, again reinforcing a power differential that is artificial. The teacher/student paradigm already creates an artificial power differential that could only complicate the tutoring process with an adult

Stacy Bullock said...

Again I still haven't started my tutoring yet, but we talked about some of the traits required to being a good tutor at our volunteer training session - namely being open, flexible, adaptable, etc.

Jenny Tkac said...

A neutral site, as long as the location is convenient for both parties, is the best way to foster a trusting and professional environment. It functions as a business meeting with two equal parties. I don't see the harm in dressing professionally, as long as it's not too overdone. There is that fine line of not wanting to intimidate the other person, but you can still be respectful and dress how you normally would in a business casual setting.

Emily Awada said...

I do not see very many cons in meeting in a neutral environment. I think an environment that is neutral to both the student and the teacher is more likely to be free of distraction and stressors. The only pro I can think of for meeting in a students home, is that the teacher may gain more insight into the students background and personal style, which help the teacher to construct more personalized lesson plans.

I think it's important to dress appropriately in tutoring situations, but so also ensure you are approachable. I think it also depends on your own attitude regarding your appearance. If you attend the session with an air of superiority, I think a student will feel intimidated, but if you are dressed nicely and are open and friendly, the student is probably less likely to feel bothered.

Jewell Pradier said...

Meeting at a neutral site provides a level of comfort for both the tutor and the student. It should be a location where there are as few distractions as possible as well as being convenient geographically. As the tutor, I would wish for my student to feel at ease. That applies to the tutor overdressing. This may cause the student some discomfort, maybe even cause him/her to feel intimidated.

Kendra Weindling said...

I feel there are many pros to a neutral environment. If we were to meet in the student's environment, the student might be distracted or embarrassed if someone they know sees them. To meet in the tutor's environment might intimidate the student.

I feel that appropriate dress is important. Over-dressing might make the student feel bad if they cannot match the dress of the tutor. Under-dressing might make them feel like you don't take it seriously or don't have the skills needed to teach them.

Natalie Esch said...

I work at the VCU Writing Center, and while that is certainly not the same as adult literacy tutoring, I feel like the one-on-one aspects of writing consultation practice are similar to the type of professionalism required for literacy tutoring. For example, casual dress is totally fine, as we want both parties to be comfortable. If it feels too formal, it may feel like a power divide rather than a collaborate conversation between two equals, just with one learning from the other. This also ties into the neutral meeting place idea. No one wants the pressure of feeling like their home or cleanliness is being judged, plus as a tutor I would probably not feel comfortable having a mentee in my home.

Sherry Unruh said...

Meeting in a neutral location is very important. This helps everyone feel more comfortable and puts the student at ease and comfortable. Getting to know each other also helps put everyone at ease. Being at ease helps a person learn.