Professional Teacher
How to understand a student's needs

Hi everyone!

I want to become a community tutor here in italki, and I want to provide my students with an optimal learning experience. I am certain that the foundation of a good lesson is to understand what your student needs and what his or her goals are. That's why I created a questionnaire, which is intended to give me valuable information about the student, so I can tailor a study plan and optimize the lessons. I would appreciate if you can check it out and give me your perspective on how to improve it. Specially if you are a student, I would like to know what kind of information you think a teacher must have to help you achieve your goals. Here's the link:

*I'm new to the community and I'm not sure if I can post a link to a page outside of italki. If not, I apologize for the inconvenience. 

Apr 24, 2017 7:47 PM
Comments · 6
Being analytical definitely doesn't have to be a bad thing. :) It can help a lot when you're dealing with grammar explanations for instance. You just have to find the right balance between being analytical and a pleasant conversationalist. I'm sure you'll find the balance.
April 25, 2017
I definitely think there is room for improvement if you indeed cut down the number of questions and maybe changed the wording, so it sounds more like a teacher talking to a student, instead of a standard form you're filling out. I guess that would help a lot. Currently the form feels very cold. And since you are appreciating my honesty.... I also read your answer to Diana, who asked for teacher recommendations. Your answer felt like a short repeat of your questionnaire. I think what most students are looking for in general, is a nice connection with a teacher. So I think that all interactions with a teacher should feel natural and not like a list of questions. First and foremost, I think people are looking for teachers they will feel comfortable with, so I think you should concentrate on that way more than on gathering information. I believe that a few simple questions and just talking to a person in a natural way, will give you all the answers you need.
April 25, 2017

I will definitely consider your advice and significantly reduce the number of questions and change the wording. Again, I highly value honest feedback, knowing what I am doing wrong is precisely the think what I am looking for, so don't hold back any negative opinion! You are probably right and I must reconsider my approach, my personality is very analytical and is easy to consider me "cold". As you say, students look for a totally different thing in a teacher, so I would reflect on that!

Thank you very much.

April 25, 2017

Hi Susan, thank you for your comment. Can you tell me in which questions you think would be useful to check more than one answer? I can modify that. 

Hell Wanda! I cannot thank you enough for your honest opinion, those are the more valuable! Let me go through your points:

Overwhelming: I was worried about that, I tried to avoid that filling this form would be seen as a chore for the student more than something helpful. I would trim down the questionnaire significantly. 

Impersonal: That's something I didn't consider, do you think there is something I can do to change that, or having my students fill this form is impersonal by itself and there is nothing I can do? 

Possibility: That's a great approach that I would undoubtedly adopt, I will make it completely optional. 

Let me say what my thinking was behind this questionnaire: 

I wanted to have some information about the student before the first class, information that one can obtain completely by himself and where there is no benefit of having a teacher while you answer them. From what's your name and what are your hobbies to what are your goals and priorities (speaking, listening, reading..). Then, when the first lesson arrives we work with that in order to build a more sophisticated plan of study, with goals that we come up with together. 

What I probably got wrong is which topics must me approached in the questionnaire and which exclusively in person. Do you thing there is a way of achieving this without being overwhelming and impersonal?

April 25, 2017
Hi Alejandro! I checked out your questionnaire and will give you my honest opinion. Even though I understand that you are trying to get a feeling of who the student is, why they want to learn Spanish and how they would like to learn it, I believe that you might be slightly overthinking this whole process. When I look at all the questions, they come across as overwhelming, and especially as very impersonal. And again, this is just my personal opinion, and if other students feel differently, they should definitely say so. For me, I'd much rather communicate my wants and needs in person. Most questions don't of course apply to everyone and in a personal conversation, that will be very clear, very fast, making the list immediately much shorter. 

Since there might be some students that enjoy filling out these types of questionnaires, I think that you could offer it as a possibility, along with the other possibility to discuss a plan of action in person, which would be my choice of course. For me, I only see the need for maybe two questions before the start of lesson number 1. The first: what is your level. The second: is there anything you would like me to prepare for you, or do you want to start out just by talking. 

By the way, I think it's really great that you are trying to figure out how to be a good teacher, before you're even starting. :)
April 25, 2017
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