We believe, as a school, that a student’s teachers are the first resource for a student or a family, especially when a student is struggling in a subject area. We encourage students to make use of regular class periods and tutorial to consult with teachers about their understanding, assignments, study habits, and more. As a school, we also recognize that some students may need extra help or tutoring in specific subject areas or in organizational skill-building in addition to working with the teacher. Students may work with outside tutors outside the school day but not during the school day, including during required activities such as assemblies, class meetings, advising, etc. No tutoring may be done on campus at any time.
If a family is considering hiring a tutor, we recommend first checking with your teen’s teacher and the Class Dean to see if tutoring would be helpful. The Director of Learning Services, Rebecca Gustin, cannot recommend a specific tutor but does keep lists of prospective tutors who have worked with students in the past. MA recommends doing thorough background checks on any tutor.
The following guidelines have been set up to clarify what kind of support and assistance is encouraged and what is discouraged. In addition to looking at these guidelines, we encourage everyone to be familiar with MA’s Integrity and Academic Honesty Policy and the associated importance of students doing their own work. The tutoring guidelines provided here are for students and those providing extra help.
Guidelines for Families
- Notify the appropriate teacher that the student is working with a tutor.
- Expect work to be about skill-building, rather than the production and perfection of actual classroom assignments. Working with a tutor does not necessarily translate into improved grades, especially in the short term. It can mean building background information, general skills, and overall understanding.
Guidelines for Students
- Remember the Integrity and Academic Honesty Policy. Tutors, friends, or parents may help you better understand how to work a math equation, write a thesis statement, conjugate a verb, but the work that you produce needs to be your own. If a teacher asks you how you arrived at the answer to a problem or how your thesis statement relates to your understanding of the book, you should be able to show your process. A good rule of thumb is that a tutor (or parent or friend) should never “touch” your assignment. You should be typing into Google Docs, for instance, while your tutor might be leaving comments.
- Be very clear about when you may receive extra help on an assignment; always check with your teacher in advance.
- Working with a tutor should be about understanding and skill development, not about a grade on a test or assignment.
Guidelines for Teachers
- Be clear in each assignment about what kind of help is acceptable.
- Be clear with students whom you know are being tutored about ways in which a tutor can be of assistance, as well as about when students need to do their own work.
Guidelines for Tutors
- Be aware that the school expects you to help students build their skills but not actually to do a homework assignment or edit or create a paper for a student; if you have any questions about this policy please contact the student’s teacher.
- Be aware of MA’s Integrity and Academic Honesty Policy. For example, putting your words or ideas into a work/product that you did not create (such as a problem set or a draft of an essay) would be a violation of MA’s Integrity and Academic Honesty Policy.
- While the school does expect teachers to share course/unit goals and expectations with tutors via email or phone, their interaction with tutors is fairly limited to that realm. Given the number of students, families, and tutors that teachers are in contact with, they are limited in their ability to coordinate with you.
Guidelines for Providing Extra Help (for Tutors, Parents, Peers, Siblings)
- Extra help should focus on review, remediation, and reinforcement of skills.
- Always refer to the assignment sheet, textbook, rubrics, and/or class notes.
- Ask the student to communicate their understanding of the context of an assignment— the skills emphasized, the goals, and the instruction rather than focusing on due dates and completing specific assignments.
- Ask open-ended questions rather than telling a student your interpretation of the text, understanding of the event, or way of answering the problem, such as: What else do you see in this section? What might have motivated this set of actions? How does this problem build on previous work?
- Try to use extra explanations and exercises when there are gaps in a student’s understanding of material. Make sure the student can do the work independently.
- Teach the student effective ways to learn the information. Your strategies may be different and yet be complementary to those taught in the class.
- Ask the student to be reflective about learning. Rather than moving on when a problem has been solved, take time to examine the student’s understanding and learning style. Ask the student to explain the problem and his or her solution to you as if you were another student in the class.
- You may identify errors, flaws, or gaps in a student’s work or thinking, but the student must be able to identify why her or his thinking/ answer/ writing / work needs work and be able to make the changes on her own.
- Remember that homework, essays, lab reports, projects, and all assignments should be the student’s own work and should be indicative of his strengths and weaknesses. An accurate portrayal of a student’s work helps the teacher to know how well the student is understanding the material.
- Be aware of MA’s Integrity and Academic Honesty Policy. For example, supplying a work/product that you did not create (such as a problem set or a sentence in a draft of an essay) would be a violation of MA’s Integrity and Academic Honesty Policy.