A post from @mrmc got me thinking about what my Top 5 Tips for being a form tutor would be. I have had had the absolute joy of seeing a group go through all 5 years of secondary school and now my current group are nearing the end of Year 8. These are the things I’ve learnt along the way:
- Talk to them
Take the time to have conversations with your tutor group, and not just about school stuff. Ask them if they watched BGT at the weekend, how did their sister’s wedding go, is the dog still at the vets? I used to love talking to my old Year 11s on a Thursday morning after I found out a bunch of them were avid Apprentice fans. These conversations always make me laugh and it will brighten up both your day and theirs.
I always know I’m doing a good job with my tutor group when a teacher says to me “Pupil X was REALLY worried when I said I would have to tell you about this!” You can only have that great relationship with your group once you have set boundaries that you stick to. They need to know that playing up outside of your tutor room will be followed up on. A little fear of a telling off from you will do them good in the long run!
- Follow them!
This ties in with the second tip; one of the best ways to find out what your group are like when they are not with you is to take the time to visit them in lessons. I’ve never had any teacher mind when I pop in saying “I’ve just come in to see how 8W are doing…” In fact, most teachers appreciate the chance to praise or report anything there and then. The pupils get a chance to show off their best work to you and it makes them think you are everywhere! Very powerful!
- Meet the parents
You are an important part of their child’s life in school so it’s essential that you build a relationship with the parents/carers of the children in your group. If they can’t make a parent’s evening, phone home and have a chat when they are free. Arrange cover if you can and have a meeting at a time that suits them. If you have the parents on side, your job will be a lot easier.
- We are family!
Possibly the most important tip! Build a tutor group identity. I tell my group all the time that we are a family and we all look out for one another. We celebrate each other’s achievements but we also shake our heads disapprovingly when someone lets the side down. We cheer and shout louder than anyone else on sports day and we notice when somene is having a difficult time. Get this right, and your time with your tutor group will be so rewarding for them and you.