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How Weekend Tutoring Fails Students

Updated: May 2, 2021

I used to love Sundays. Every Sunday, I would tutor students in Latin. I would drive to 5 or 6 families’ homes and work with one student per hour each on their Latin work. It was an opportunity to work on a subject that I cared deeply about with a student who needed support. It was an hour of targeted support where a student would often make huge strides. It was an opportunity to build trust and connection with 1 student with minimal distraction. I would explain content, ask clarifying questions and support students on the material they covered that week. Students could complete homework assignments efficiently, and when they came to difficult material or points of confusion, I could help. I knew the question to ask that would reframe their thinking or could explain the topic to help them understand what was being asked. Sometimes, if an assessment was announced early enough, I could help a student prepare for an upcoming quiz or test. I came home energized by the work of Sundays. However, as much as I loved Sundays, I became more and more frustrated with my inability to support students in the days that followed.

While Sunday was predictable for students, the rest of the week was not. I was unable to predict what would happen in 4 or 5 days of classes and unable to support these students, when they most needed it. On a Monday, a student might not understand a topic that was presented in class and struggle with that concept all week. On Tuesday, a teacher might announce a test that students would take on Friday and my student didn’t have support studying for the biggest assignment of the quarter. On Wednesday, a student might run into a homework assignment that they didn’t know how to start, or might struggle to complete. On a Thursday, a student who normally did well, might run into a homework problem that they couldn’t figure out and might spend an hour of their time trying to solve it. Parents would talk about the anxiety surrounding homework, and the inability for some students to even get started, when they were confused. My one day a week sessions became a catch-up for a week of lost learning, missing assignments and frustration. One parent compared it to his own struggles working once a week with a personal trainer in the gym. It was great for a day, but the others were a struggle.

Conversations with students, parents, and teachers about this problem led to what is now Superstudy. Superstudy is built around the idea that students should have access to the highest quality support every night of the school week from tutors students know and trust. The school week is unpredictable and academic support should be able to respond to the challenges of the day. Our study hall is the solution. Students show up Monday to Thursday at a set time for a virtual study hall with 3 expert teachers in a content area, e.g. Physics. There are 10 other students there as well, but the students can only see the 3 tutors. The tutors check in with each student over text and then when the student needs support they can book 1 or many 8 minute support sessions with their preferred tutor. Because it’s the same tutors every night, the student develops a rapport with the tutor they choose to work with. And if a student doesn’t need help, they can work independently and the family is charged nothing. They still have the safety net of a certified teacher to help them at a moment’s notice.

If a student is having trouble getting started with an assignment, a tutor can walk them through the directions and first few problems. If a student was confused by what happened in class, the tutor can clarify points of confusion. If a student needs help studying for a quiz, a tutor can help with that, too. Or if a student runs into a roadblock on an assignment, a tutor can help there.

Most of all, families talk about the impact our model has on student stress. Students don’t have to pick a time to get started or do that tough assignment alone. Instead, there’s a time and a place for students to work on something that’s hard with the same trusted educator to support them from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Every day.

Superstudy gives students the support of a Sunday on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

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