Tutors: Onboarding, Training and Coaching

Quality Standards

Tutor Preservice Training: The program provides high-quality onboarding and training, tailored to program context.

Tutor Coaching and Feedback: The program provides ongoing support to tutors such as through coaching on the effective use of research-informed practices that foster academic success and overall student well-being.

Critical Questions

  • What expectations and processes will be set for tutors to ensure effectiveness and safety?
  • How will the program train, onboard, and coach tutors? Including, how will the program train tutors in being culturally responsive and sustaining tutors?
  • How will the program ensure tutors have access to sufficient onboarding, training and coaching support to positively impact student learning?

Implementation Checklist

  • Delineate training content based on Model Dimensions and selection criteria for tutors.
  • If possible, consult with local school and/or district staff to determine what instructional onboarding, training and coaching support is most important based on student need.
  • Determine how tutors will be compensated for the time they spend on onboarding, training, and coaching activities.
  • Establish a clear structure for pre-service and in-service training, including frequency, format, facilitator, etc. led by dedicated high-impact tutoring staff.
  • Include training to support culturally responsive-sustaining education. See the CRSE Facilitator Guide and the Annotation of CRSE Facilitator Guide specifically for OST tutoring programs.
  • Collect feedback from tutors on training and incorporate insights and lessons from feedback to improve training effectiveness (2-way feedback).
  • Where possible, track feedback on the program by race, gender, and socio-economic status, and then use this information to identify patterns and trends across groups and sub-populations.
  • Ensure in-service training is responsive to performance evaluations, stakeholder feedback, and student performance data.
  • Ensure tutors receive regular feedback on how they are planning for and delivering tutoring sessions, including opportunities to reflect on implicit bias and expectations for student achievement (see p. 26 in the Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework for more information)

Implementation Tools

OST Specific Tools:

From Existing Resources:

Key Insights

Have tutor training to fill any gaps between your selection criteria and your ideal tutor’s qualities.

  • Training decisions and selection decisions are related. Training should help tutors acquire whatever important qualities a program did not actively select for during recruitment.
  • Model design decisions also influence training content. Programs with online delivery models will need to train tutors to use all features of the platform; programs with multiple students per tutor will need to train tutors to manage student behavior, programs with consistent tutors will need to emphasize relationship-building, etc.

Choose a frequency of training based on the tutor type and complexity of the program model.

  • Tutors who receive more training will be significantly more effective than those who receive less, but program capacity and return on investment is also important to consider. Consider embedding training opportunities into other structures within the OST program structure.

Understand that regardless of tutor type or program model, pre-service training alone will not be sufficient.

  • Even with the highest-quality tutors, programs need to look for opportunities to help tutors improve and resolve problems as they emerge in practice.
  • Pre-service training can prioritize building knowledge, while in-service training should hone skills. An in-service support model involves individual observation and coaching, differentiated group coaching on specific skills, and/or peer support via sharing best practices.
  • OST tutoring programs can also leverage teachers and/or leaders within the district where their students attend school. This type of program staffing enables instructional experts to have a greater impact on the students in the program beyond the students they may individually tutor.

Provide tutor support, regardless of model design.

  • While the specific support structures may vary from program to program, the need for support is universal. Rigorous recruitment does not mean you can not provide oversight and support: even competent and capable individuals perform better with supervision and support.
  • There are many ways to provide support depending on a program’s design. Support could mean a formal manager on the program’s staff (sometimes referred to as a “site director”), a “lead tutor” who has been deemed effective in the role and capable of training others, a teacher at a specific school site, or something entirely different, like using a technology platform that tracks whether or not tutors are meeting expectations. It could also involve a combination of these methods: for example, several lead tutors supervised by a formal manager could effectively oversee many more tutors than a single manager could alone. In a virtual environment, a leader with greater instructional expertise may be able to model instruction for a large group of students and follow up with individual student groupings facilitated by student tutors in breakout rooms.

Trace student outcomes to root causes in tutor practices to identify training needs.

  • Student academic data should inform tutor training. If students are struggling with vernacular misconceptions, for example, targeted training on anticipating and preventing these misconceptions by clarifying terminology could help tutors serve students better. Additionally, if the data indicates that lack of mastery of a prerequisite skill is the barrier for mastering the current standard, training tutors to identify missing prerequisite skills and build a remediation lesson should be considered. Instructional leaders hired to oversee the program are best suited to train and coach tutors in this work.

Seek feedback from tutors about their needs to customize training content.

  • Students feel empowered and excited when they have agency in their own learning, and the same is true of tutors. Soliciting feedback from tutors and providing training geared towards their self-identified needs not only helps them become better tutors, but also helps them feel supported and valued by the program.
  • Build opportunities for tutors to reflect on how their experience informs their ongoing career development. Provide guidance on opportunities for tutors to continue exploring careers in youth-serving professions, such as teaching.