In order to manage expectations, you first need to understand what those expectations are.
From our research, a major reason why a student does not book a second lesson with a teacher is that teachers fail to meet their expectations. In a 1-on-1 online language lesson, most students expect that the teacher will offer lessons that are customized to their needs. Therefore, it is essential to understand students’ needs so you can be prepared for the lesson.
When you receive a lesson request from a brand new student, we recommend:
- Assuming that the student is a beginner (unless it is obvious they are not)
- Take the initiative to ask questions in both your language and the student’s native language using a translation tool.
- Do not assume the student has read your introduction and lesson description. Students may not read or may not fully understand what is written.
Immediately message the student and thank them for choosing you.
Ask the student:
- What their objectives are
- What their language level is
- If they have any particular preferences, including preferred topics, teaching methodology, learning activities, homework etc.
- Do they want the teacher to lead and plan the lessons? Do they prefer talking most of the time while the teacher plays a role as a facilitator?
(These questions can also be specified in your Contact Teacher Form)
Here are some example scenarios of how to respond to, discover, and manage student expectations.
- Scenario 1 - The student responds promptly and answers all the questions and you can decide if you can meet their expectations. Accept if you can, decline the lesson request if you can’t. When declining please write a polite explanation for your reasons. You may suggest that you are not the most appropriate teacher for this student. Please appreciate that the student may not understand why you’re rejecting them, they may take it personally, particularly when they may have taken a long time searching and comparing teachers before selecting you.
- Scenario 2 - The student doesn’t respond so you’re faced with either accepting or declining the lesson request. If you accept, you may be going into the lesson with no idea of what the student expects so all you can do is prepare yourself by having topics, content, games, exercises etc ready. You can decline the lesson request if you don’t feel comfortable. When declining please write a polite explanation for your reasons. Please appreciate that the student may not understand why you’re rejecting them, they may take it personally, particularly when they may have taken a long time searching and comparing teachers before selecting you.
- Scenario 3 -The student is unable to or cannot accurately explain their expectations, or maybe they themselves are not clear. You’ll have to apply some interview techniques to find out their true expectations. Try to be empathetic and think from your student’s perspective.
Teacher: What is your learning objective?
Student: I think I need to improve my English writing skills.
Teacher: Why do you want to improve your English writing skills?
Student: I am working as a secretary in a company. I need to take meeting minutes and write business reports in English.
Teacher: What difficulties have you faced when doing those writing tasks?
Student: My manager thinks the words I used are inappropriate.
Teacher: Could you show me some work that you have written for your company?
In this scenario, students may tell you only a little bit about their needs. Dig deeper and ask open questions to follow up. This will help you to gather more information about the problem so that you can fully understand their needs.
Analyze the information from your student and plan the lesson accordingly. For Professional Teachers, we highly recommend that you discuss the lesson plan with your student and adjust it to their needs before the lesson starts. This will give your student confidence that you’re attentive to their needs and increase the probability of them booking more lessons with you.