How can you be the best form tutor to your students?
Being effective as a form tutor can be really tough. It takes time and energy, but I believe that it is a crucial role and one that I used to really enjoy.
10 Tips For Being An Effective Form Tutor
I want to share with you some of the things that I used to do and unpack why I did them. Take some time to reflect on the different ideas and decide what areas you would like to improve.
1. Set clear standards and adhere to them every day
Being effective as a form tutor means that you welcome students to a new day well and ensure they are ready to learn. I always made sure my students were ready for the school day ahead of them. Give them a pen if they don’t have one! Everything counts: uniform, punctuality and diaries/equipment.
2. Make sure students get to know each other
Yes I let them sit in groups, but I also made them talk.
Part of being an effective form tutor is ensuring that students get to know each other and realise that they are going to be together for a number of years. If they are going to spend time together every morning and afternoon then it is important that you facilitate their social interaction.
3. Present yourself as ‘their lawyer’
An effective form tutor, like a lawyer, is there to listen and there to defend students if they need it.
If a student has had a tough time or is going through something difficult, then you need to advise other staff on how to treat them and work with them. Effective tutoring might mean sticking up for students, but it also might be advising them to plead guilty and do their time – in detention.
4. Communicate with home about everything
Parents and carers get enough information in the school report and the various data drops.
What they therefore need to know from you is what is the emotional health of the student and how are they coping in school? Parents and carers should know if their child is finding life hard, turning up despondent or indeed, if they are just loving life.
5. Be a good role model
In order to be effective you need to be on time, organised and also show our own social and relational skills.
An effective form tutor will engage in conversation with students, and whilst there is a need to have professional boundaries, they will share something of who they are outside of school. I am a Tottenham Hotspur fan and so I used to enjoy chatting to the students about football and I was always particularly ‘mean’ to any Arsenal fans!
6. Don’t be a teacher
Teachers are the people who deliver the lessons. If you want to get to know the students in your tutor group then you need to modify the way you interact accordingly, making it different to how you interact with them in the normal classroom environment.
7. Prepare students for the real world
I used to use some of my form time to have conversations about the real world: How much does a pint of milk cost? How do you do a Windsor knot with your tie? I used to share stories from my own schooling and encourage the students to think about the world out there.
8. Make yourself present and available
Make sure you attend parent’s evening, giving your tutees’ parents good access to you. That might mean seeing all of your tutor group at a parent’s evening or having a ‘drop in’ time for them.
Regular emails can also help to show parents that you are there to help. You need to be the first point of access to the school so that there is a clear dialogue between you, the student and home.
9. Keep up with what is going on with the students
The most important thing is to know what is going on with your students. Where are they struggling, what are their targets and how can you help them through school? The more you know about them the more you can support them.
10. Be a human being – just like yoru tutees
Similar to no. 8. Be professional but also be human.
And the final thing I always used to do is teach students how to look someone in the eye when they were talking to them and how to give a good solid handshake – first impressions can be the making of breaking of a job interview! Old fashioned, but important in my opinion.