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  • Writer's pictureFrank Doogan

Knowledge, Experience, Diagnostics & Planning - the skills of great tutors and coaches

In previous blogs and we have looked at the commonalities in great coaching and tutoring for students who are looking for excellence in exam success. In this blog we look at more features that define the source of that success.


Experience shows you how to interpret knowledge
Real knowledge requires experience

Detailed knowledge

A great coach and great tutor have an outcome in common: they want the best for their students (yes, athletes are students). To achieve the outcome, they need detailed knowledge of the subject: whether that is how to be a post player in basketball, do a rainbow flick in football, or make a drop shot in tennis that dies over the net.

In tutoring, that corresponds to how to write a fluent non-defining clause; solve a Diophantine equation for x3+y3+z3=k; or craft a full, academic history essay.

Both sets of knowledge need more than a light understanding of the problem. Great tutors and great coaches need detailed awareness of subject so they can guide you through the variables that effect your success in each subject. That detailed knowledge comes from their own study and their own experience - something which inexperienced coaches and unqualified tutors do not have.


Great diagnostic skill based on experience

Solving a student's challenge may require a depth in diagnosis that is only available from experience. I remember a violinist I met whose concert master sent her to Rome to just practice her bowing (not fingering, or pieces of music) because, he said, the small error in her bowing was restricting her ability to excel in playing. She had had many years of trying to excel before that weakness was successfully diagnosed.

In a parallel example, a student who was having a lot of challenges in her language study, and failing her tests, was diagnosed by a MyIT Tutor as having poor word-attack skills. Despite many hours of teaching, her teacher had not discovered she had a very fixable reading problem. To excel, the student needed to go back to a rigorous Phonics program so the speed with which she recognized and wrote words stopped getting in the way of reading comprehension and essay writing.

The smallest detail can solve the biggest problem
Hanseen solves Carter injuries

In a similar, I recall one of the world's greatest rugby coaches, Steve Hansen, saying he tried to bring all his life experience to coaching. When he had a great player who was getting injured far too often, he remembered a horse who also picked up injuries in races because it was slightly out of balance due to carrying a little (just a little bit) of weight. Hansen told his star player to lose a couple of kilos and miraculously he stopped picking up injuries.

Careful and detailed plan for improvement

In great coaching and tutoring, there is deep awareness of how to develop skills through careful choices of what is to be learned. Only coaches and tutors with broad knowledge are capable of deciding what to include in each lesson, and what sequence the content is to go in.

In all great coaching and tutoring, the careful attention to mastering lower-level processing before advancing to higher, is critical to developing knowledge and skills. Inexperienced coaches and tutors do not understand the importance of sequencing in learning, and see their job as trying to explain a solution, without being aware of what causes the problem.

Great coaches and tutors are acutely aware of ZPD, and syllabus planning. There is an unavoidable sequence in learning which determines, after diagnostics, what is to be in the plan for improvement.


If you are looking for excellence in your academic subjects, feel free to contact MyIT  +852 92791395

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