One of the characteristics that makes someone an outstanding tutor is the ability to impart both the material as well as the means by which to master it. Mastery is only gained when the student understands the process behind the solution and is able to reproduce it consistently. Excellent tutors understand and can demonstrate their own learning process and teach their students to do the same. They also tailor their instruction to students' unique learning traits, coaching them in understanding how their own minds work.
Here are some questions and comments that help both the student and the tutor better understand the student's thought process:
- What's our goal, here?
- Do you know how I figured that out?
- Do you know why I did it that way?
- Where did you get that answer?
- Prove it.
- How can you be sure?
- Teach me how you did it.
- What's not making sense to you?
- Can you show me another way?
- What grade do you think this will get?
It's when our students internalize the "how's and why's," in addition to the "who's, what's, where's, and when's," that we know we are getting our job done well.