Tutor: Talent, Motivation, and Attitude

Am I the only tutor who feels like he spends as much time coaching as teaching? Maybe that’s why I love to pull quotes from famous coaches and athletes, and I’m far from the only tutor who does. Sports analogies go together like pitchers and catchers or golfing and alcohol or something like that.

One winning football player, coach, and broadcaster whose name has become synonymous with excellence is Lou Holtz. Some of Holtz’s most well-known quotes, like the following, apply as well to students as they do to athletes:

“Your talent determines what you can do. Your motivation determines how much you are willing to do. Your attitude determines how well you do it.”

How often do you encounter students with the talent to excel who lack the other essential ingredients for success?

How often do you meet really motivated students who lack the skills, speed, or knowledge to reach their goals?

How often do you work with students whose negative or self-defeating attitudes undermine all their strengths?

When I think about the students I’ve worked with personally who have earned perfect scores or walked right up to the line of 1600 or 36, I recall complete students who brought superior talent, motivation, and attitude to the task. Our best success as tutors comes when we focus on all three conditions for victory at the same time.

Of course, we can’t analyze our students without turning back to look at ourselves as well. What level of exceptional talent, motivation, and attitude are you–and, if appropriate, your team–bringing to your practice? Anyone can succumb to the self-delusion that being smart is all it takes to be a terrific tutor, but that killer combination of intelligence, experience, and insight represents talent alone. Talent alone is not enough; this table needs three legs to stand on.

Think about your students and how many of them bring the trifecta of success to your lessons. Now consider yourself against that same standard. As Lou Holtz also says, going through the motions won’t get it done if you aspire to excellence:

“You can’t pay people to win. You can’t pay people to be outstanding. There has to be something deep down inside that says, ‘I don’t want to lose.’ 

Is there something deep inside you that wants to win in the satisfying ways that only exceptional educators can? Bring your superior talent, motivation, and attitude to work every day.

— Mike Bergin

Tutor Tips, Tools, and Thoughts

Habit formation limits growth in teacher effectiveness: A review of converging evidence from neuroscience and social science
Have you locked into some bad teaching habits?

Federal funds to combat pandemic learning loss don’t reflect need
Money quote: “…It would take 28 years for eighth graders to return to pre- pandemic achievement levels based on the actual pace of academic progress in the previous 20 years.”

High Expectations — and Frustrations: Stories of Twice Exceptional Students Desperately Seeking Support
How well do you understand 2E students?

Winning Every Day: The Game Plan for Success: Holtz, Lou
Lessons on winning from a winner.

Tiktok’s enshittification
Crass title aside, this is how platforms die.


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