Belonging in academic personal tutoring

I recommend keeping a dialogue with your tutor. You should never be afraid to ask for help… most of my support comes from my personal tutor

Things you can do as an academic personal tutor to embed belonging into your tutee meetings:

  • Get to know your tutees and find out about their previous experiences, not just on an academic level, but when and if appropriate, on a personal level too. An easy way to do this would be to introduce something personal about yourself (if you feel comfortable to do so), that way your tutee will feel more at ease, creating a familiar and welcoming environment. 
  • Ask about experiences prior to arriving/continuing at university (e.g. the pandemic) in a considerate and warm tone to find out about any challenges they have faced. Tell your tutee some of the difficulties you faced during the pandemic – ask them how they feel about moving forwards from here. 
  • Ask your tutee about their expectations and fears (for example you may want to debunk any stereo typical expectations of university as solely drinking and partying) ensure tutees of the diversity of students at Leeds and enforce the idea early on that there will be students, no matter their situation, with similar concerns and worries. Students need to know and believe they are not alone. 

I had a meeting with my personal tutor and student support officer, which gave me the boost I needed: they told me many students were in the same boat as me and that I wasn’t falling behind

  • Explore what your tutees want to achieve for themselves and how you can best support them: prior to first meeting, you could ask your tutee to write a list of their wants, needs and must haves for their academic journey – that way you can manage expectations and see where your support is needed. This information can help you tailor questions, advice, and signposting. 

What’s great about having a personal tutor is that they know exactly the academic issues that I may face and are able to help with their vast experience around the subject matter.

  • Consider setting up tutee groups that include tutees from different levels of study – this provides another layer of support and connections for your studentsstructure these group interactions with ice breakers and activities that facilitate student to student interaction (fun ice breaker activity could be to ask each student their favourite cuisine with a brief recipe and ask them to swap dishes with another student. You can encourage students to report back how their go at creating the dish tasted. Shared experiences can create a familiar and accepting environment where difference is celebrated.  A similar activity could be done with different music types, favourite coffee shops in Leeds or favourite activity to do. These ice-breakers encourage students to get to know one another and find commonality through differences.