When you picture your child working with a tutor, what does it look like? Do you picture them at the kitchen table with a man in a tweed jacket? Or have you considered the many benefits of group tuition? All too often group tuition is overlooked as the low-cost alternative to individual tuition, but it offers so much more than that and I’d like to share those benefits with you today.
What does group tuition look like?
Our group classes are delivered online, to make it easier for your child to attend. They’re usually small groups of 2-5 students on a Zoom call together, all working at the same or similar levels on the same subject. The students are assessed to make sure that this is the case, and the group is well matched.
The lesson will be delivered and the task set as a group, but feedback can be shared with each individual student as they’re working, and questions can be asked in private to allow less confident students to participate.
For those students not able to attend a particular lesson, everything is recorded and shared to work through in their own time, and there is built in accountability to make sure that they are participating and benefiting.
According to a study by the Education Endowment Foundation, a charity focused on raising pupil attainment and closing the disadvantage gap in education, small group tuition can boost learning by an additional 4 months over the course of a year. Read more here.
So many times in my life when I’ve been working towards a ‘stretch’ goal (something that pushes me out of my comfort zone) I’ve struggled to get there on my own.
I’ve had the best success when learning in a small group environment. Like when I joined a Personal Training group for women with three members.
Despite not being a morning person, and HATING going into the gym, I got up every weekday morning at 6am for several months and went to the gym with these three women.
I did’t want to let them down, or be the one that dropped out. The group environment added an extra layer of accountability. It kept me focused and so I worked much harder than I would have on my own.
Everyone has bad days. On those days we can easily forget all of the successes, all of the hard work, and every time we’ve got it right. The cloud descends and suddenly everything is awful and we’re totally incapable. In our own minds.
And it can feel awkward working with a coach or teacher who is an expert in the very thing I’m finding difficult. So it becomes too easy to feel like I’m just not good at it and to give up.
When you experience those days with others who are at the same point in their journey, they can be on hand to remind you that you’re just having a bad day, it’s temporary, and don’t give up.
What’s more, being the person who gets to deliver that message to someone else is incredibly empowering for students, and helps them to believe it about themselves too.
In a similar way, group tuition can build your own confidence in your abilities, as you’re able to progress alongside your peers rather than at the hands of an ‘expert’.
While I discourage students to compare themselves to others as we’re on our own path, it is enlightening to see how others struggle where they breeze through, and vice versa. On the same journey there are many branched paths, and we’ll stumble in different places, and soar in different places. The group environment allows students to learn about their own strengths and even support others along the way. There is immense value in that for their confidence building.
Even the meekest students have a competitive streak. I have often motivated students by telling them how their brother / sister / friend did with the same task. Of course they immediately want to do better. (Incidentally a similar tactic works against themselves – tell them how they did last month and they’ll want to beat that too.)
What better motivation than pitching them against each other in the same task in a group lesson?
However this is delivered in such a way that there can be a winner, but never a loser. Everyone’s individual work is celebrated for what it is – their own individual work.
When working one to one with a tutor the lesson is all about you, which means you’re in focus 100% of the time. That isn’t always a good thing, as self-conscious students or those less confident in the subject can become overwhelmed and disengage from the lesson. They then have to be brought back in after time to give their brain a break.
In a group, the attention moves between the members, so everyone naturally gets time for a brain break, time to sit back and absorb, and time to jump in and contribute.
So each individual feels less pressure to ‘perform’ in the lesson.
One of the main aims of lessons is to make learning fun. Too much of GCSE and A level terms are focused on pressure, goals, measurement, assessment, comparison. There’s little time for fun, and often attempts at fun in school are marked as bad behaviour.
In small group lessons, there’s plenty of room for fun as well as learning. And to be perfectly honest, I think it is an essential part of the process.
We’re working to build lifelong learners with a passion for STEM subjects, and that’s not going to come out of a dry lecture followed by an exam.
But it can come out of making jokes, making personal connections, and finding the fun in learning together.
We offer group tuition at Green Tutors from February to June every year. This year we’re focusing on supporting students on the pass/fail margin GCSE maths to give them the boost they need to pass their exam this year. If you’re interested in joining us, you can sign up at https://greentutors.co.uk/group-classes/.