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Last week I added a new string to my tutoring bow. I completed training in a collection of software packages aimed at helping higher education students with disabilities, mainly dyslexia, in their studies. It’s been quite an eye-opening experience as I have returned to the role of the student and have been given many handy tips on how to approach teaching the material in my future classes.

tutorhubMost of what my trainer had told me I already knew, such as tailoring each lesson according to the ability of my student, repetition of material to make sure concepts are understood etc. But one thing that struck me about their teaching ethos was the value of the student teaching the tutor the material they have just learnt, back to them. It’s based on the research that you remember 10% of what you see, 20% of what you see and hear at the same time, 70% of what you do, but an astonishing 95% of what you teach others. And it is from this logic that they encourage their tutors to get their students to re-teach their teachers!

My trainer even used this tactic with me and I found very effective because as soon as you are asked to teach back what you’ve just learnt you have an immediate understanding of how confident you are with the material. Initially sudden panic sets in as you find out how much or how little attention you were paying to your instructor, but gradually you find that you’ve remembered a lot more than you thought you had and you end up asking much more in depth questions as a result of needing to understand the material fully.

This role reversal is most definitely something I am going to take up in my lessons with all of my students in the future as it will prevent me from bombarding them with too much information that I am never convinced they have fully digested. It’s a really easy trick which not only makes lessons more interactive but also much more productive as both the tutor and the student will have much more of an idea of how far the student is progressing and which parts of the course are not fully understood.

It’s also quite a good revision tool which is especially important at this time of year with GCSE mocks fast approaching and January AS and A-level exams on the other side of the Christmas holidays. In fact it’s a tactic that I remember using when I was at school – teaching the material to my fellow classmates to see how much I could remember. It’s much more fun than sitting in a room on your own and a little bit of healthy competition is encouraged as you try to out-teach each other.

So my advice: turn the tables – teach the teacher and learn from your students!




3 Responses to “Turning the tables”

  1. Jim Moffat

    Teaching someone else the skill you are learning is a great way of crystallising your own learning, quickly showing up the gaps in your knowledge or expertise and demonstrating the full depth of your understanding. It is a technique I used to use for homework tasks when I taught in primary schools. ‘Hone work tonight is to teach your Dad how to multiply using the grid method.’ Or ‘Homework tonight is teach your Grandma how use a number line for subtraction.’ It also helped to get over the constant problem of parents saying they did not understand the way we do maths nowadays. We also ran workshops for parents which were much appreciated as it helped parents to understand the methods we were using in class, so they could understand the maths their children brought home.

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  2. Yvonne Mason

    Sound like a really great piece of advice! When I was working at a well known historic site as a historian and having to talk with and teach members of the public every day, I learned and remembered huge amounts of information because I was constantly talking about what I had learned.
    I will be trying this technique with my students also. Thanks for sharing it!

    Best wishes,
    Yvonne Mason

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  3. orsonswing

    I am a tutor with over 20 years experience under my belt. I’ve been using this technique for a while now and it is very effective. I also encourage my pupils’ parents to ask their children to talk them through what we have looked at in our lessons. I stress that they should ‘play dumb’ and ask lots of questions. Those that have bothered to devote a little time to it have really seen the benefits.

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