One on One 101: The Art of Inspired and Effective Individualized Instruction

One on One 101: The Art of Inspired and Effective Individualized Instruction

by Robert Ahdoot
One on One 101: The Art of Inspired and Effective Individualized Instruction

One on One 101: The Art of Inspired and Effective Individualized Instruction

by Robert Ahdoot


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The prevailing reality is that good educators do the tangible things well. Great educators also do the intangible things well. One-on-One education is packed to the brim with intangible moments that we can identify, hone in on, and master.

When educators or parents work with students at a One-on-One level, challenges often arise. Knowing a subject does not necessarily mean one can teach it, let alone teach it effectively and inspirationally. So many factors, strategies, and actions combine to make exceptional One-on-One instruction. "One-on-One 101" is the authoritative roadmap to mastering the art of individualized instruction.

The original learning form is One-on-One, beginning when a child first looks to a parent for guidance. The most coveted learning form is also One-on-One, as schools struggle with increasing class sizes and move towards newer models of teaching, such as “flipped” and blended learning. These emerging models demand a comprehensive definition of what transcendent One-on-One learning looks like and how best to implement it.

Individualized instruction is highly sought after for the personalized attention it offers, but it remains elusive for so many people due to its high costs, complexity, and impracticality. What is the “secret sauce” that goes into prospering within this realm of education? The precise formula is known by a select few but direly needed by so many. "One-on-One 101" serves to empower anyone to be a successful One-on-One expert.

Critical bedrocks of ideal One-on-One dynamics include using specific socio-emotional cues, leveraging praise without falling back on faulty longstanding conventions, meaningfully connecting with students, and putting into play a wide array of teaching tricks, such as appropriately timing specific verbal phrases, avoiding pitfalls, and permanently ending student shutdown. Inspired individualized instruction is a true art form, and "One-on-One 101" stands as the definitive guidebook for mastering this art.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630476168
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 01/12/2016
Pages: 148
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.30(d)

About the Author

Robert Ahdoot is a high school math teacher and founder of, a free online collection of math video lessons filmed LIVE in his classroom, using costumes and characters. Robert has given multiple TEDx talks, created an Algebra app, and has been a featured guest on numerous news stories and internet/radio interviews. He is a contributing author for prominent education blogs, and travels to schools promoting his message of positive learning through human connection.

Read an Excerpt

One-on-One teaching is at its core a service position. Your role is to support, encourage, and uplift your students whenever naturally possible. But this must be done correctly. In tandem to your student’s learning process, you must work to understand your student’s perspective. Your goal is to paint a mental picture in your mind of what your student’s life is like within his current learning situation. By tuning in and synchronizing your mind to your student’s, you’ll let your student know that he has found a trusted advisor in you. Offer healthy amounts of affirmation that you understand and see what he currently deals with. Keep in mind: you are there to offer him simple affirmation, not any dramatic sympathy. “Wow, dealing with a teacher so disorganized sounds stressful, I hear you,” is affirmation. “Oh no! I’m sooooo sorry that you have to deal with that! Yuckypoodles for you” is sympathy run amok.

The One-on-One relationship is an intimate one. You are your students’ mentor, advisor, coach, and, eventually, friend. You are not their therapist. When offering counsel borders on counseling, steer the conversation back to your domain and be ready to involve anyone you deem necessary for additional support, such as parents, counselors, or clergy.

Synchronicity is just that; it is the act of synchronizing yourself with your student, of taking a stroll in your student’s shoes to experience life from his vantage point. This usually takes place at the beginning of meetings. Following such dialogue and after the meeting takes place, it is paramount to remember some of the main themes in his life. That way, you can follow up with him during future sessions, and advance the relationship’s momentum.

Here are some synchronicity starters:

What’s it like in class? (This is a big question. Topics include teacher style, teacher value system, general classroom demeanor, grading policies, level of consistency or lack thereof, level of inspiration or lack thereof, etc.)

What’s the teacher like; how well do you connect with him/her?

What other stuff do you have going on? (i.e. teams, clubs, work, commitments, etc.)

How do you feel about having had to ____? (e.g. switch courses, take the SAT again)

What’s been your experience with____? (e.g. subject matter, task at hand, etc.)

Do you like doing this? (People really enjoy sharing how much they like/dislike the topic.)

What are your goals? (described next)

On your mark, get set, GOAL

Surprisingly, when we begin working with people, we oftentimes fail to ask them what their exact goals are. Sometimes at the outset the goal is obvious, e.g. to achieve a certain score on the ACT. But sometimes, the goal is unclear. In academia, goals range from improved grades to improved confidence. Some students want an A, while others fight for a C, and still others just want to learn more. When the time is right, and with sensitivity, you may need to manage some of your student’s expectations in order to avoid a setup for big disappointment. Don’t torpedo your student’s dreams, but point out to her if it is mathematically impossible to raise her D-level grade to an A before the end of the term. Then help her look ahead to performing strongly at the outset of the following term. Each student’s goal is a guiding sign that can help you tailor your sessions. Some students are very results-driven. If so, respect their mindset, synchronize with them, and work with them to create tangible milestones. Some students are less interested in results and more interested in simply learning and understanding better. Herein lies the underlying goal that all One-on-One artists need to strive for. Through our actions and conduct, our fundamental goal is to elicit the students’ interest in learning and to equip them to become avid lifelong learners. Teaching a student how to solve problems or how to beat a test is where we begin. Instilling within them a sustainable intellectual curiosity is where we finish. The roadmap to achieving this outcome is outlined in chapter eight.

Table of Contents

Introduction: One-on-One is not just about tutoring. Is being a doctor just about medicine?

Chapter 1: Say hello (then say goodbye) to your history

Chapter 2: Creating spaces

Chapter 3: Bye bye, book!

Chapter 4: To-do’s

Chapter 5: NOT to-do’s

Chapter 6: When it goes wrong, permanently ending four levels of student shutdown

Chapter 7: Every teaching tool possible while having tape over your mouth

Chapter 8: The Five S’s, turning the intangible into the tangible

Chapter 9: The underlying truth: teaching is more about who you are than what you do

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