What is the ideal duration of a lesson?

When I started teaching in a tuition centre, each lesson was 1.5 hours. I never knew why it was like that, and I never asked. I took it to be some magic number which the experts have figured out.

When I started giving private tuition, I also set each lesson to be 1.5 hours. And we meet once per week. Somehow my students and their parents just accepted it too.

Along the way I noticed that some students just do not sit well with the 1.5-hours-per-week kind of tuition schedule. There are at least 4 ways that the 1.5 hour per week schedule does not work with them.

1) Too long: Some students cannot focus for 1.5 hours. I have a student with ADHD. He will take 1 hours to travel to me, and start to lose focus after 30 minutes. The rest of the lesson was pretty much wasted for him. Often times I had to endure his incessant “how much longer is the lesson?”. It was really quite a pointless agony for all parties.

2) Too short: Some students ask deep questions, or they need longer time each time to engage you, or they have just so many questions to clarify with you, that 1.5 hours per week is simply not enough. And you cannot simply just stay on longer every time, because you have the next lesson to go to.

3) Too infrequent: I have a student called Wayne. I used to always assign him homework and he would never do them, saying he did not know how to do. Yet when I was with sitting beside him the next lesson, he would be able to complete most of the work by himself. Strange right? When I probe further, he told me that somehow when I was beside him, he felt safer and more supported, and could clarify any doubts immediately. For Wayne, meeting once a week just was not enough.

4) Too early: You may have noticed that students nowadays are getting busier and busier. Most are regularly staying back in school for project work, remedial, etc. How to find time for tuition is becoming a real problem. Having a later time slot for tuition seems to be the only way to go, but staying beyond 9pm in students’ house is not a commonly acceptable practice. By the time tutors reach home it would be easily beyond 10pm – we tutors have our families and our social lives too!

Nowadays I make use of interactive, live virtual classrooms like ClassDo.com to cater to my students’ learning needs better. I was able to make my lessons longer, shorter, more frequent or later rather easily. If you are interested to find out more about how I do it, I’ll invite you to join us for our weekly free online workshop. You can sign up at learn.classdo.com/online-workshop.

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