Instruction: Session Content

Quality Standard

High-Quality Instructional Materials: The program uses high-quality instructional materials that are user-friendly, rigorous, and research-based. 

Critical Questions
  • What academic content will tutoring sessions focus on?
  • What materials will tutors use to deliver the academic content?
Implementation Checklist
  • Review curricula and materials currently being used in the classroom.
  • If materials used in the classroom are high-quality, assess whether existing supplemental materials can be used for tutoring or whether additional materials need to be sourced or developed.
  • If additional materials for tutoring sessions need to be sourced or developed, work in partnership with the local school or district and tap resources at your HEI to ensure tutoring materials are high-quality, maintain rigor, and complement classroom materials to support student mastery.  
  • Focus session content of targeted learning goals informed by grade level standards, assessment data, and family and school input. 
  • Provide tutors with a consistent session structure that includes space for relationship-building, independent practice time, and formative assessment. 
  • If Student-Tutor Ratio is Small Groups: Use data in collaboration with the school to form purposeful, flexible small groups based on content needs. 
Implementation Tools

Higher Education Institutions (HEI) Specific Tools:

From Existing Resources: 

Key Insights

Provide tutors with a comprehensive curriculum to follow so that any tutor, even a substitute or a tutor on their first day in the role, can pick up a session plan and lead that session effectively.

  • While some programs may choose to develop their own curriculum, it is not necessary to start from scratch. Programs can adopt standards-aligned, rigorous instructional materials (or even entire curricula) for tutors to adapt to fit their students’ needs. This is particularly useful for HEI teacher candidates, as they will likely need this skill when they enter the teaching profession as well. 
  • If you choose to develop your own curriculum, finish designing the entire curriculum before the first tutoring session starts and align with relevant standards.
  • Whether curriculum is developed or adopted, ensure traditionally marginalized voices are included to reflect diverse perspectives.
  • In most cases, tutors’ planning time is most effectively spent on optimizing implementation, selecting examples, and building deep knowledge of how to tutor, not on creating resources themselves.

Use a tutoring curriculum that complements students’ classroom curriculum.

  • If classroom materials are strong, your program should leverage these materials to plan session content. This alignment ensures that tutors are reinforcing the academic language and models of the classroom to support student learning. You may still opt to use a different curriculum than the classroom your program serves. Regardless of the materials, tutors will want to focus on addressing students’ underlying needs, not keeping pace with the classroom work. However, the curriculum and materials that tutors use should align with the relevant standards, and you should sequence sessions to support the work students do in their classrooms.
  • Many HEIs partner with their local school district to hire teachers and leaders to offer training on the curriculum the district uses for HEI tutors. This supports curricular alignment and takes some of the burden for curriculum professional development off of the HEI alone. 

Tutors specify clear learning goals for each session.

  • Both the tutor and the student need to be able to articulate the goal at every point in the session, and both need to be able to evaluate whether they have reached it by the end.
  • Narrowing the focus of a session to a specific subtopic (e.g., decoding skills within literacy, or sourcing skills within writing) is an effective way to build in a steady stream of small victories that boost student (and tutor) morale and improve outcomes.

Tutors personalize sessions to meet an individual student’s needs.

  • Student productivity and growth increase if the tutor can identify the missing or incomplete skills that are holding a student back and focus remediation and acceleration on those specific skills.
  • Leverage data from informal and formal assessments to help identify and target specific skill needs for particular students. Ask students themselves what areas are challenging.

Tutors focus personalized sessions on acceleration and include remediation when necessary. 

  • While students may need remediation on missing foundational skills, they will also need support to learn how to apply those skills to new, grade-level concepts to accelerate their learning going forward. Tutors must maintain a balance between the remediation and acceleration with each student.
  • Connect instructional content with the lives of students by using culturally-specific examples that tap into their existing interests and knowledge.