Welcome To Tutor Portland's High School Tutoring Program.


High school is a challenging time. Teenagers find ways to bend the rules and slack off. They are rebellious and homework is the last thing on their mind.

These students are bright and full of promise. Yet they are also in a dangerous and vulnerable position. They need help.

They need someone who sees the promise within them. Our High School Tutoring Program was created to see that potential.

It was designed to motivate, arouse curiosity, build confidence, and boost grades. Curiosity is the key to success. Have you ever noticed how studying goes when you aren’t interested in something? 

Then how about when you’re absorbed in it? In the latter, you flow with it. You get in the zone. Learning becomes effortless and easy. You become instantly more curious, motivated, and focused. 

Curiosity, motivation, and focus can all be cultivated and developed through great tutoring programs. At Tutor Portland, we use the following strategies to instill curiosity, motivation, and focus in the students & learners of our High School Tutoring Programs. We have also extensively documented our high school private mathematics curriculum


It’s All About Motivation

“Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”

— Og Mandino

With our many years of tutoring experience, we have learned that high school students are motivated by a few simple things. We practice these in all of our tutoring sessions.

Much of motivation stems from the human relationship, rapport, and likability.

The science says that when we like someone we are more likely to listen to them and follow their directions. We are even likely to start “mirroring” their actions!

This can be very valuable if your child is working with a star student as their tutor.

If an educator can gain the trust and respect of a student, then they can work on developing the deeper intrinsic motivation for learning.

A tutor should be able to inspire a student and help them find a newfound curiosity for the given subject.

Pay Attention To Them

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

— Mary Oliver

Teens, or anyone for that matter, are more likely to listen to people who pay attention to them and take a genuine interest in them.

This sort of thing has to happen before any other influence can take place. If there is no trust or likability, there can be no long term influence or exchange of worthwhile ideas. 

The interaction and developing rapport have to start on the right footing. When they do, the teen will be more receptive towards learning.

Teachers and tutors, therefore, must pay attention to everyone individually. 

Adopt A Growth Mindset

“There is no failure. Only feedback.”

— Robert Allen

Growth mindsets are critical for success in education. People who have a growth mindset believe that their actions have an impact on the results. They believe that failure is only feedback.

Failure tells good students where they need to study more. Poor grades or results hint at areas you might need to tweak your study strategy or put in more effort.

People with fixed mindsets, on the other hand, believe that their skills and abilities are fixed in place. If they score poorly on a test, these students are likely to think that they are stupid or incapable of learning this material. 

They just don’t have what it takes. We have all been there. Every single one of our tutors has felt this. Yet we took this as feedback and pushed forward.

That’s what we are here to help our clients do.


“Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another.”

— Alfred Adler

It’s all about what our founder Eric Earle calls “emotional empathy.”

This is where we fully connect with what the other person is saying and likely feeling.

We attempt to “name their feeling” by calling out what we think they might be feeling. This gives them a chance to respond.

If we were correct, great. If we were wrong, we can always just ask what they were feeling. Either of these will lead to understanding. And when students feel understood, they are more likely to listen.

Inspire Them

“A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.”

— Horace Mann

It is more important to first inspire your pupil than it is to teach him.

This is especially true of high school students—their focus is hard to capture. High school students learn better when they buy-in to the learning process & strategies. You don’t earn buy-in from force or manipulation.

You earn it by being likable, trustworthy, honest. People, in general, learn better when they are inspired and interested.

Research shows that it costs us less cognitive effort to learn something we are inspired by. It also shows that we remember those same ideas for longer. 


“Begin in a friendly manner. Become genuinely interested in other people.”

— Dale Carnegie

There is a bunch of research correlating likability to both success and influence. And it makes sense. People don’t want to listen to or pay attention to someone they don’t like.

Likable people are focused, honest, trustworthy, and brimming with energy. We are bound to like these people.

And once we like them, we will listen & learn from them. At Tutor Portland, we’ve learned that there are a few keys to being likable. The first, important thing, is to take a sincere interest in others, while at the same time smiling & being pleasant.

It’s important to start the conversation off smiling & asking questions. Then you will soon begin to find common ground. You can then show the client that you are like them. We like people who are like us!

Sometimes it’s worthwhile to invest 10-15 minutes of a tutoring session just building rapport. Over the years we have experimented with this and found that building rapport can help boost results. 

One way to learn about how to be more likable is to read one of Dale Carnegie’s Books. Below are a few of Dale Carnegie’s classic-timeless principles. We also recommend enrolling your child in a local Portland Dale Carnegie Program.

We Also Use A Handful Of Evidence Based Teaching Strategies

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

— Pele

In the twenty-first century, teaching is no longer a mystery. There are several research-based teaching & tutoring strategies that can help your child excel.

It’s pretty simple. It boils down to things like setting clear objectives, drilling practice problems, focusing on concepts, being patient, and using time-spaced learning.

But these aren’t always adopted in learning programs at Portland Public Schools or in the private high schools, either. 

Use Time Spaced Learning

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

– Bruce Lee

People learn better when lessons are spaced out over time, rather than all at once. This is why all of our membership programs are designed around consistent weekly tutoring, quizzing, and monitoring of progress.

Students need this sort of consistent follows up in their lives. Research shows that the more times our brain has to access something from our memory, the more likely it is to stick with us.

Therefore, learning topics on different occasions is likely to bring us the most efficient learning gains. Learning things takes times. That’s why it is also important to be patient.

Be Patient 

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

— Leo Tolstoy

Everyone learns different subjects at different rates.

Some people learn on a linear progression, making equal gains in improvement & skill with the number of hours they practice.

However, some people show more staggered gains, investing countless learning hours before making a big breakthrough. 

If you simply give people enough time and space, they can learn anything. Our job as a tutor is just to speed up that timeframe—and get students learning things quickly.

Over time these small changes have a compounding effect add up to a dramatic difference. 

Teach Concepts

“The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you.”

― B.B. King

Concepts are even more important than practice problems. At the end of the day, it’s more important that you understand the concepts of general chemistry, algebra, and calculus, rather than just be able to calculate & solve problems.

There will always be things and computers which can solve problems and compute answers. But there aren’t always people who understand the ideas and concepts of science and math and are able to use those in their daily life.

Most people say they don’t like chemistry or math because they weren’t taught the right way. They never learned the concepts—what these subjects are all about. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

“Everything is practice.”


They say that practice makes perfect. Well, it at least makes pretty darn close to that. Practice is the key to learning a number of subjects, especially math and chemistry.

These subjects require consistent drilling of practice problems. Practice problems help students with memory and retention.

In addition, drilling practice problems in tandem with learning concepts can have an exponential effect on success.

When you know the concepts like the back of your hand, you can start anticipating potential answers on a multiple choice exam and solving long challenging questions without having to do any computations. 

Check For Understanding

“The word ‘education’ comes from the root e from ex, out, and duco, I lead. It means a leading out. To me education is a leading out of what is already there in the pupil’s soul.”

— Muriel Spark

People are universally afraid to admit they are wrong or that they don’t understand.

We’ve found that a lot of times learners will pretend they know what’s happening in order to move things along or downplay their lack of understanding.

However, when you stop and ask a question to check for comprehension, you get a better idea of where the student is and how you can tailor your lesson plan.

We are surprised that more teachers and professors don’t do this. The research and data are all there to back it up. 

Clear Lesson Objectives & Goals

“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going.”

— Earl Nightingale

Every single lesson should have clear lesson objectives. It’s important that both the students and the tutor or teacher have clear explicit knowledge of what is expected for the session.

The goals of the tutoring session must be clearly defined. This is particularly critical for high schoolers, who need to be told why they are being asked to do things. This single variable alone has been shown to increase scores by up to 32%.