Three principles to build great student-tutor relationships: Relationships, Rigor and Ratio

January 4, 2022

In order to foster an atmosphere of learning, tutors must first build good relationships with their students. By developing powerful, consistent relationships with students, tutors can help nurture the academic, social and emotional growth of young people. In fact, building relationships is one of the three hallmarks of the Saga Education model. It is one of the three guiding principles (the three Rs) of the Saga learning philosophy: Relationships, Rigor and Ratio.

Relationships can mean making a simple gesture–like checking in with a student to see how their day is going. Moments like these are the first small steps that tutors can begin to connect with their students. Saga tutors make sure to listen more than they talk, and always put the spotlight on the student.

A high school student at Burke High School in Chicago put it best when she said, “My favorite thing about my tutor is she always asks how my day is going. I can tell she cares and keeps a smile on my face.”

Rigor: Setting High Expectations

Of course, a tutor does more than build good relationships with students. This is the next R of Rigor. Tutoring is about setting high expectations for students and making them accountable for their work. That accountability goes both ways. Tutors also have to be accountable and commit to being part of the solution. By focusing on academic rigor, tutors can show that hard work and persistence pays off.

“When I came to high school, I had extremely low expectations for almost all of my classes,” said one Saga student. “But my tutor really helped me realize that I can do what I put my mind to, and she helped me through a lot.”

Even if math is not the primary interest of a student, it is still something that is worth learning. “My tutor believes that, although some of us are geared towards different things, with time, we can learn whatever we want to put effort into,” said another participant who participated in math tutoring. The bottom lesson for the tutor? Never give up—not on yourself, and especially not on the student.

Ratio: Small groups, consistent presence

Saga tutors work with the same small group of students in class throughout the entire year. By working in small groups every day, students begin to have trust in their tutors. This consistent presence helps the student feel safe and ready to learn math. “My tutor helps me with everything I need. Whenever I have a question, I know she is the one person I can always go to for help,” said another Burke High School student.

Relationships, rigor and ratio are three of Saga’s guiding principles that lead to proven results. These three guiding principles lead to academic success for students.

To find out more about how to become a better tutor, try our free, self-paced, evidence-based tutor training program, Saga Coach.