ICW Tips for Tutors: Establishing Rapport

No matter how comfortable you are talking to people you’ve never met, sometimes standing up in the classroom in front of completely foreign faces can be daunting. I’m sure everyone on the in-class workshop team has felt this tremor of nerves at the beginning of a workshop, even those of us who have months or even years of teaching experience under our belts. There’s a room of blank faces staring at you, and your mind starts to race: How will they respond to me? What if I can’t get anyone to answer my questions?

Maybe some of you have even experienced this in tutorials. I know I have. Sometimes you get that writer who just doesn’t want to talk. You’re sure they have questions, or at the very least, answers to yours, but how do you get it out of them? The answer is the same for me whether I’m faced with a shy writer or an eerily quiet classroom, and it’s this week’s ICW tip for tutors: always remember to establish rapport!

Regardless of the size of your audience, when there is resistance, it’s hard to get any of those learning/tutorial objectives completed without first warming up the audience. In every workshop, I make sure to give myself 30 seconds minimum to introduce myself and my colleague. In our rush to get to the workshop, or in the case of tutorials, we don’t always take the time for these ice-breakers. So in your next tutorial, remember to take a few minutes to get to know the writer before diving right into your work. It’s a little thing that can make a big difference!