Setting Expectations with Tutors

This tool is not legal advice

Consult an attorney to ensure program compliance with all federal, state, and local laws.

Why is it important to set expectations with tutors?

Tutors cannot reliably meet expectations they do not understand. Setting clear expectations at the outset both helps tutors understand their commitments and makes it easier for supervisors to enforce them. Tutors will be working with minors, so clear and firm expectations are critical tools for safeguarding students, tutors, and the program. Tutors should see examples of what success looks like in their role and also receive guidance on what not to do (and why). Setting expectations also helps ensure equity in tutors’ experiences by holding everyone to the same fair standard.

The lists below are not exhaustive. Expectations and trainings required by law will vary, so consult an attorney and meet legal requirements. This tool is not legal advice!

Communicating Expectations to Tutors

Communicate all program expectations, policies, and procedures to tutors in both written and verbal format. Most importantly, create a tutor handbook for your program with all expectations, policies, and procedures clearly outlined.

  • Consult an attorney (both initially and on a regular basis) to avoid leaving out anything critical that is required by law.
  • Get approval from an advisory group or board of directors.
  • Review and update policies regularly to incorporate input from stakeholders and institutional partners.
  • Before training begins, verbally communicate all expectations outlined in the handbook to new tutors.
    • Give tutors ample opportunities to ask clarifying questions. It will save you time and trouble later.
    • Have tutors sign paperwork indicating that they have read and understood the handbook.

Tutors’ Expectations of the Program

In addition to outlining what the program expects of tutors, you should also outline what tutors can expect of the program.

  • What are the tutor’s rights as an employee? These will vary state-by-state and even by local jurisdiction.
    • How will the program keep tutors’ private information confidential?
    • Does the tutor agree to let the program post images, video, etc. of them at work to social media?
    • What are the processes for discipline and termination if a tutor violates the program’s expectations?
    • What employment, anti-harassment, and anti-discrimination laws must the program follow?
      • How can tutors report potential violations? What protections do they have against retaliation?
  • What training and support will the program provide for tutors?
    • What training will be provided before tutors start work? When and where?
    • What ongoing support will be provided during work? Who will support tutors, how, and how often?
    • What framework will be used to evaluate tutors’ performance? What does success look like in the tutor role?

Program’s Expectations of Tutors

Below is a list of the types of expectations your program will likely need to set with tutors. You should ensure that you are following any requirements from partner institutions as well (e.g. local school district, university, AmeriCorps, etc.).

Program Commitments

  • Location. Where will tutors perform their work? If your Delivery Mode is Virtual, what software will they use?
  • Time Commitment. How long does the tutor’s contracted commitment to the program last? A summer? A year?
    • How many days per week will tutors work? How many hours? What are the clock-in and clock-out times?
      • What should a tutor do if they will be absent or late? How do tutors accrue and use paid time off?
      • What are the consequences of chronic lateness or absenteeism? What constitutes “chronic”?

Communication Norms

  • General Communication Expectations. What are the baseline expectations for all tutors’ work communication?
    • What constitutes professional language over email, phone, etc.? (See Professionalism section below.)
    • What are the expectations for checking lines of communication outside working hours?
    • What constitutes a reasonable response time for calls or emails?
    • How should tutors use their phones during working hours?
  • Communications with Program Staff.
    • What kind of information will tutors receive from program staff? How often? Through what channels?
    • What kind of information will tutors need to share with program staff? How should they communicate it?
      • For example: scheduling absences, discussing challenging students, reporting concerning information students share, etc.
  • Communications with Students and Families.
    • What are the policies around sharing tutor contact information with students, accessing student contact information, or communicating with students outside of sessions? (See Student Safety section below.)
    • Will the program expect tutors to communicate with families? If so, what policies must they follow?

Job Duties

  • Tutoring Role and Responsibilities. Ensure these align with the Job Description tutors saw when they applied.
  • Preparation Before Sessions. What materials must tutors prepare? What must they set up before students arrive?
  • Structure During Sessions. What needs to happen during each session? What structure should tutors follow?
  • Paperwork After Sessions. What data must tutors document, and where? What paperwork must they submit?
  • Collaboration With Colleagues. With whom should tutors collaborate? What does good collaboration look like?


  • Legally-mandated Training. Specific trainings (e.g. anti-sexual harassment training) are required by state law.
    • What training sessions must tutors complete? By when? How will the program verify their completion?
  • Program-mandated Training. Which program-provided training is mandatory and which is optional?
  • Professional Conduct. How should tutors act at work?
    • What dress code and language standards must tutors uphold during their work? Review these with a diverse team of staff to ensure there is no inherent bias in these expectations.
    • What standards of ethical behavior must tutors meet? What program values must they uphold?
      • Are there specific restrictions based on institutional partnerships (e.g. AmeriCorps limits on political activity or drinking alcohol while wearing AmeriCorps logos, even off-the-clock)?
  • Performance Evaluation & Coaching. How will tutors be evaluated and coached?
    • How often will tutors be observed by supervisors (formally or informally) during their sessions?
    • How will tutors be evaluated? What are the expectations around implementing supervisor feedback?


  • Appropriate Use. If computers (or other hardware) are issued to tutors, what constitutes appropriate use?
    • Outline the specific rules for using the program’s hardware, particularly an internet use policy.
    • Outline prohibitions on using the technology provided by the program for any illegal purpose (e.g. software or media piracy) and lay out the consequences tutors will face for misusing technology.
  • Data Ownership & Control. Who owns the data on the program’s computers or in its online systems?
    • Clearly state that any information stored on the technology provided by the organization is owned by the organization and can be monitored by the organization at any point.
  • Miscellaneous Requirements. What else do tutors need to know about technology use for their work?
    • What are the approval requirements if a tutor is using their own hardware for work (e.g. personal laptop)?
    • What are the requirements for updating software and returning hardware?
  • Virtual Sessions. If your Delivery Mode is Virtual or Blended, what are the expectations for virtual sessions?
    • Are tutors required to use specific software or meet certain baseline system requirements?
    • What are the expectations for tutors’ home office environments during sessions (e.g. quiet, isolated, etc.)?
    • Will sessions be recorded? (See Student Safety section below.)
      • Are tutors required to record sessions? If so, how? Where should recordings be saved, and how?
      • Are tutors allowed to record sessions? If not, why not? What laws might apply here?
      • What consent from students do tutors need to have prior to recording any sessions?

Student Safety

  • Student Confidentiality Requirements. Make it clear that student information must be kept strictly confidential.
  • Data Privacy Guidelines. What best practices do tutors need to follow to keep student data safe and private?
  • Mandated Reporting. Based on your state laws, will your tutors be Mandated Reporters? Make it clear to them.
    • Mandated reporting is the requirement to report any signs of suspected child abuse. Guidance here.
    • If tutors are considered Mandated Reporters under your state laws, ensure that tutors undergo all required training. Make it clear to whom they must report concerns (i.e. Site Director, School Administrator, or Guidance Counselor) and the timeframe when they must report these concerns (i.e. within 24 hours).
  • Media Releases. What rules are there around tutors sharing or publishing aspects of their work?
    • Can tutors speak with journalists about their work? If not, to whom should they direct interview requests?
    • Can tutors share photos or videos of students on social media? (The answer is almost certainly no, but tutors may not realize this intuitively.) Have students and/or families signed media release consent forms?
  • Interactions with Students. Depending on your context, tutor interactions with students may need supervision.
    • Does a teacher need to be present or do other supervisors need to be present during tutoring? Supervision is often required during school day programs, but each district has its own requirements.
    • If a teacher does not need to be present, what are the ways in which the program is ensuring student safety?
      • Are virtual sessions recorded? Who is responsible for recording them, and how?
      • Are there supervisory adults who cycle in and out of sessions?
      • What happens if a tutor is alone with a student? Is there specific guidance for tutors to follow?
    • What kinds of tutor-student communication outside of sessions are allowed? What kinds are expected?
      • Can students and tutors connect online? If so, which methods are approved, and which are not?