Molly Potter, author of 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Tutor Time, gives tips on how to make tutor time engaging and constructive:
Enduring Tutor Time
My own school memories of my tutors at secondary school left me with the impression that tutor time was just something the teachers had to endure. We shuffled in, the register was taken, messages were issued and then off we trundled to ‘real’ lessons. Very, very occasionally something interesting happened like the time our tutor helped us understand and discuss a particularly tragic news story or the time we were asked to make a welcome poster for exchange students. Anything slightly out of the ordinary stuck with me – which shows there wasn’t a lot going on. Still, that was certainly a while ago now.
Ideas for activities and tackling issues
The role and responsibilities of a form tutor varies considerably from school to school. However, the time slot for registration usually allows some space for an activity instigated by the tutor to make it that little bit more interesting and start the students’ day or week off well. That, in the main, is what my latest book provides form tutors with.
Aside from a few organisational tips on how to run the registration session (like ideas for giving out messages in an unusual but easy-for-you way) and some ideas to support you in a pastoral care role (like how to address persistent lateness), 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Tutor Time provides form tutors with:
- a variety of fun ‘community building’ activities, (an example is provided below)
- suggests many issues you could discuss and how to cover them (e.g. teen issues, attitudes and values and media) and
- has ideas for a variety of thinking, creative and general knowledge activities and challenges you could give students.
The book also usefully provides teachers with several engaging active learning techniques that could be used to open up discussion on a variety of topics. (An example of one of these techniques is also provided below).
The activities in the book generally require little or no preparation so efforts to spice up tutor time will be minimal on your part. So for negligible input, your students will hopefully start to look forward even more to your tutor time.
Example of a community building activity
- Ask every student in the class to think what their favourite flavour crisp is.
- Ask students to find a partner and share this information with him or her.
- Next, tell students that they need to decide which flavour they could both eat if they had to agree on just one flavour. For example – if one student chose cheese and onion and the other chose prawn cocktail, they need to agree which one of those flavours would be most palatable to both of them.
- Having agreed the flavour, they need to join another pair of pupils to make a four, share their flavours and again agree on which flavour would be palatable to all of them.
- Continue until the class is split into just two groups.
Finally see if the group can agree on one final flavour!
Example of an active learning technique
To use the four words technique:
- Get students into groups of four and give each group two piece of scrap paper.
- Give students the topic or question you wish them to discuss (see examples below) and ask them to write what they consider to be the four most important or significant things about this topic. This can rarely be done without a considerable amount of discussion.
- Once the group has agreed upon the four things, ask pupils to duplicate their list.
- Next, ask each group of four students to form two pairs and separate from the other pair they have just worked with and go and form a four with another pair. Each group will now have a list of potentially eight things that they believe are important about this issue.
- Ask the newly formed groups to knock their current lists back down to four again. This creates further discussion- often with new ideas thrown into the pot.
- Ask a spokesperson from each group to feedback their ‘answers’.
The kind of topics you could ask students to discuss include:
- being attractive
- Preventing bullying
- Good parenting
What is a good career?
- Preventing prejudice
- Feeling good about yourself