For Teachers

How to Set Up a Peer Tutoring Program in Your High School

By The Room 241 Team February 24, 2013

Peer tutoring is a useful way to help improve student grades and encourage a classroom to continue working hard. When planning to set up a program in a high school, it is important to recognize the different components that make tutoring successful and ensure that the program incorporates the elements.

Discuss tutoring with appropriate school officials

Before it is possible to set up a successful peer tutoring program, teachers and interested students should discuss the program with appropriate officials. Although students can volunteer hours, it is still important to make arrangements for a place to tutor, hours when students are available and ensure every student in the school is aware of the tutoring program.

According to the Texas School for the Blind, getting board approval, working out credits for students and similar arrangements are a necessary first step in setting up the program. The school board might set provisions or restraints at the beginning to evaluate whether the program is plausible in the school.

Determine the timing

Peer tutoring does not necessarily need to take place after school. Students can also make arrangements during lunch or in the morning, based on the availability of space, the needs of students who are want tutoring and the ability of the tutors.

Set goals for the program

An effective peer tutoring program needs clear goals and a well-organized plan of action to succeed. When the plan is not created before starting the program, it can quickly get out of control.

The goals should focus on simple ideas that students can work toward. Goals for the program should start with small steps and then work up to a larger goal when the students are prepared to take the program to a new level.

Select tutors

A successful program must have students who are motivated and capable of providing help to their classmates or young students. It is important to set clear standards for tutors and ensure that every student meets the minimum standards before allowing a student to participate.

Although some variation in grades is appropriate, in general the students should maintain an average GPA of As and Bs to ensure they understand the material well enough to teach other students. The only exception is tutors who are instructing younger students, but only if the material is well understood. In high school, most tutors should have better than average grades.

Beyond the grades, a tutor should have the motivation to help others. A student should not have behavioral problems or show any major attendance issues that might make it challenging to tutor other students.

Although the selection of student tutors is essential to success, the motivation and ability to help others is a key part of finding the right students to participate in the program.

Provide training

Training tutors to teach others is an on-going part of the program, but it is also an essential element. Before the program begins and tutors start providing instruction to other students, they should gain some training from teachers and administrators.

The training program should focus on teaching the tutors the basics of instruction and teaching. Even if a student understands the subject material well, it is not always easy to communicate the material to others. By training students and teaching the basic skills that a tutor needs to instruct, it is easier to avoid complications or accidentally giving away the answers.

While training should occur before the program starts, teachers and administrators should take time to provide continued instruction and training on a regular basis. Taking one day per month to update the tutors, evaluate their performance and make individual suggestions for improvement will make the program successful.

Getting a peer tutoring program started in a high school is not always as easy as it sounds. Although the school might be willing to set up the program, it is important to have the right space, training and tutors available before beginning the program. A successful tutoring program will always provide instruction, even when it comes from the voice of another student. Tutoring is a useful way to help students succeed in school and it can come from volunteers.

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