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One-On-One Tutoring Online: How To Be A Good Tutor

As a tutor, you help students approach learning with a curious and open mind. Your goal is to inspire and challenge them. 

Trust is essential in the learning journey, no matter a student’s age or grade.

Learning how to build a strong and lasting one-on-one tutoring relationship is essential.  

Why One-On-One Student-Tutor Relationships Matter

In many ways, you create your students’ learning environment. 

Building a strong relationship with your students is crucial to their success – and yours. 

Students need someone they can rely on. 

Aim to be a trusted advisor, someone who has the ability to be a friend and an educator. 

About Your Attitude

Aim to be: 

  • Helpful
  • Caring
  • Likeable
  • Hands-on

It is your responsibility to ensure you are setting the tone. And yes, you may have to work harder to do this when tutoring online.

How To Foster A Successful Online One-On-One Tutoring Relationship

Developing a relationship with your student doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time.  

Consider these 10 ways to build strong relationships with your students.

1. Patience is a virtue

It can take time for a student to understand a concept or problem. 

Keep your body language open and welcoming. Don’t underestimate the power of eye contact and a smile. 

Negative body language can be discouraging for your student. Avoid crossing your arms or tensing your shoulders. 

2. Create a space of trust 

Make sure students know you enjoy and value the time you spend with them.  

Create an environment that allows your students to feel safe and relaxed.

Lead with honesty and reinforce the importance of being open with each other in order for both of you to succeed – you are in it together.

3. Be flexible 

Not every student is the same. Some students are eager to learn – others less so. 

As you take on new students, remember there is not a one size fits all approach. 

Make sure to adjust your teaching techniques to fit the learning needs of each student.

4. Let your students feel heard 

Don’t dominate the conversation. Allow your students to shape and contribute to the discussion. 

Watch out for verbal and non-verbal cues that may show they’re having trouble, or need some extra support. Remember, 55% of communication is non-verbal. 

5. Growing up can be tough

You can help students understand their thoughts and feelings. Sharing experiences from your own life can help students relate. 

This can improve their wellbeing and boost confidence. 

6. Collaborate, don’t lecture

One-on-one tutoring is a partnership. 

To see success, your student needs to understand that you’re in this together. Foster an environment of ongoing dialogue. 

You are there to benefit your student. You are supporting them in reaching their academic goals – big or small. 

7. Show, not tell

You want your students to be able to rely on their own skills and knowledge. 

You are teaching them how to learn. 

Guide students towards the solution without telling them how it’s done. Show that you trust they can get there on their own. 

8. Empathy & encouragement

Students will get frustrated, it happens. 

When they do, it’s okay – don’t panic. Work towards relaxing and refocusing them on the task at hand. 

Show your student that you understand their struggle. Reassure them that their frustration will pass. 

Remind them the best thing to do is to keep moving forward. 

9. Have a tutor resource bank

You need help too. Create a bank of go-to resources. 

Resources can help provide guidance when you hit a wall with a student. 

Look into seminars, workshops, and other online resources that might be useful.  

10. Take care of yourself 

As a leader and educator, you cannot help students succeed if you are not in a good headspace.

Remember to check in with yourself. Recognize when you need a moment to step back and focus on your wellbeing.

Friendly Reminders & Quick Tips


  • Use simple language
  • Avoid asking yes or no questions
  • Use step logic to guide students
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Be prepared

Do not:

  • Do their work for them
  • Rush them
  • Talk down to them.
  • Be afraid to say you don’t know the answer 

Wrapping up 

Beginning a tutoring relationship with a new student is exciting.

Enter the relationship with an open mind, a trusting demeanour and a kind disposition. 

Remember, all good relationships rely on patience and time. 

When a student has a great tutor, they are more likely to ask for help, study harder and show more interest in class. 

By building a strong relationship, your student has nowhere to go but up.

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