I am lucky enough to have begun tutoring at Columbia's Learning Studio already. This not only forced me to jump in headfirst and blindfolded, but it also gave me the chance to learn the system from the inside out. In my case I think that this was a wise decision. I learn much more efficiently by doing than by listening or reading, so the choice to begin tutoring sooner rather than later was a good one for me.
This is what I have discovered so far...
1. Students secretly want you to guide them, but if you do this overtly they will work against you. Let them decide what needs to be done, and then aid them by helping them to do what they already (whether consciously or unconsciously) know they need to do.
2. Sometimes the student doesn't need your help so much as they need someone to talk through their work with. As long as they have a pair of ears available, they can figure a lot out on their own by just speaking out loud. Don't be afraid that you aren't saying enough. If their work is improving, then you are doing your job.
3. Sometimes leaving for ten or fifteen minutes to let the student write in peace is the best thing to do. If you continuously sit there while they write quietly, it will probably make them uncomfortable.
4. Popcorn is served in the Learning Studio every Tuesday and Thursday. Make sure you eat some, as it is delicious.
That's all for now. I will be back soon with more delicious tidbits.