Session Facilitation

Implementation Checklist

  • Tutors reinforce the academic language and procedures of the classroom and hold students accountable for doing the same.
  • Tutors appropriately use open-ended questioning to ensure students are articulating their understanding of the content.
  • Tutors facilitate content clearly, correctly, and at an appropriate pace.
  • Students engage with content using a variety of learning tools that promote productive struggle given their unique needs.
  • Students experience multiple representations of new knowledge and repeated opportunities to apply new skills in order to solidify learning.
  • If Delivery Mode is Virtual: Tutors use a digital whiteboard to support session facilitation and share content with students.
  • If Delivery Mode is Virtual or Blended: During virtual sessions, student access is restricted to required applications as much as possible in order to reduce distractions.
  • If Student-Tutor Ratio is Small Groups: Tutors use student groups to promote dialogue and collaboration amongst pairs.
  • If Student-Tutor Ratio is Small Groups: Tutors are trained to effectively facilitate student behavior management as needed.

Implementation Tools

(Click on the links below or visit the pages on the lefthand navigation for more information.)

Facilitation Moves Checklist: One-on-One Tutoring Effective Facilitation Guidelines: Small Group Tutoring Choosing and Using Virtual Tutoring Platforms

Key Insights

Effective session facilitation elevates student voice over tutor voice.

  • Tutors should ask open-ended questions and encourage student-led discussions to encourage and empower students to process ideas and solve problems independently.
  • Prioritizing student voices isn’t just about making students feel empowered. It’s also a crucial strategy for making students’ thinking visible to tutors. This real-time qualitative data about students’ internalization of the session content helps make sure that tutors can catch student misconceptions and keep students on track to meet their goals by the end of each session.

Facilitating sessions that are effective for all learners requires thoughtful preparation.

  • A well-prepared tutor can ensure that any learner can learn session content and materials. For example, a tutor might share multiple representations of content, supplying a variety of media and supplemental materials, or providing accessible technology.
  • To help all students reliably access session content, tutors should consider offering an alternative option for each student task (such as a choice to share answers aloud or write them down for the tutor to check). 
  • Tutors should look for opportunities to weave in tips about meta-academic executive functioning skills like planning, note-taking, and prioritizing.

Model-Specific: If your Student-Tutor Ratio is Small Groups, set clear norms for discussions.

  • Student-led discussions about open-ended questions are powerful tools for engaging intellectual curiosity and elevating student voices. However, for these discussions to be equitable, respectful, and productive, tutors need to establish ground rules beforehand.
  • All students should feel comfortable expressing themselves, have concrete guidance for how to respond to peers with different viewpoints, and generally agree on group behavior norms.

Model Specific [virtual]: Benefits of virtual learning

  • Virtual tutoring allows tutors to instruct students regardless of physical location.
  • Virtual tutoring can scale up much more easily than in-person tutoring, access a much wider pool of qualified tutors, and deliver services to students across a wider geographic range. 
  • Sessions can be observed in real-time and recorded for reference, giving supervisors and parents greater insight into tutor and student behavior than they would otherwise have.
  • Virtual tutoring can democratize access to individualized learning, providing private and personalized instruction to students who cannot get it elsewhere.