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Essential Qualities of a Great Personal Tutor

From Imogen, published on 02/05/2017 We Love Prof - UK > Tutoring > Advice for Tutors > What is a Private Tutor?

So you want to earn a bit of extra pocket money by becoming a tutor.

You might find our tips for first-time tutors useful if you’re just getting started.

Whatever your student’s level, whether they have mastered the basics or not,  it is your job to guide them so they can progress in their chosen subject area.

Does your student want to ace their exams first time round and avoid resits? They’ll have to work twice as hard in achieving their goal –  and that’s where you come in.

You may be asked to provide intensive tuition or to help a student revise in the run up to their exams.

But what exactly is a private tutor?

This article will tell you all you need to know about tutor jobs, the skills required to become a tutor, how to tailor your services to those trying to find a tutor, and whether you need specific qualifications.

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Tailoring Tuition for Each Tutee

The key quality of good tutors is their adaptability.

A teacher must know how to adapt to any situation and accommodate the needs of each of their students. Don’t be afraid to question yourself along the way – this is a good way of making sure that your academic advice is truly individualised.

Of course, having a good lesson plan is fundamental to getting the most out of your contact time, but don’t get caught up in a methodology that doesn’t work for your student.

Instead, know how to chop and change basic techniques so they suit your students’ different learning styles.

Adapting your methods this way is an art, and that’s why peer tutors are so popular – because they provide what mainstream education cannot.

Go beyond your subject and use your sessions to help your student develop good study habits Find the best learning strategies for each student and equip them with the tools to learn ¦ source: Twenty20

Each of your pupils will have particular needs, and it’s up to you to find the best way of using their strengths to come up with a personalised, and therefore effective learning programme.

If they are struggling to understand instructions to an exercise, it’s your job to put them into other words so that the student knows what they are being asked to do.

Are they having difficulty with a certain topic? Try to understand what is causing the confusion and come up with a different method that works around the problem.

Being known for your adaptability will make you popular with parents and pupils alike.

Why the Notion of Private Tutoring is Important

Demand for supplemental instruction is on the rise as more people realise the benefits of tailored lessons.

Don’t forget that by establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your student, you are providing a service. 

The relationship you have with your student is incredibly important, if not fundamental to improving their academic performance.

establish mutual trust so that both sides can benefit Let the student show you the way forward ¦ source: Visuallhunt

Having mutual trust between student and mentor will ensure that the tutee feels in control of their progress.

To establish this trust, you don’t need to befriend the student, just get to know them in a way that may explain why they are falling behind at school. Ask them about their day, how their friends are doing, etc.

The idea is that you use their strengths and weaknesses to optimise their learning style.

You’ll begin to notice how a student can help you to help them without even realising!

Find out whether Online Tutoring via Webcam is for you.

Cognitive Behavioural Coaching: An Essential Aspect of Tutoring services

Cognitive behavioural coaching can be defined as the unlearning of certain perceptions or behaviours which may be standing in the way of progress. This is the process of helping people to change how they view themselves to provide a basis for productive learning.

So how does this fit into private tuition?

When you get into peer tutoring, you’ll meet a lot of students who are falling behind in class. In general, these students won’t have a lot a self-confidence, nor will they believe in their own potential.

Behavioural coaching can help to deconstruct these negative sentiments. If the student thinks “I’m too stupid to do well”, then they are automatically setting themselves up to not do well.

Such practices are being used in the classroom already, with studies showing how good mental awareness can help reduce anxiety and improve participation in class.

Your work will prove their capabilities and gradually pick apart their negative mindset.

Don’t forget to mention this when writing your flyers!

Here are a few tips on how to rebuild a student’s attitude:

  • Don’t hesitate to advise them on how to get the most out of their lessons in school. For example: listen in class, ask plenty of questions, take pride in your work use highlighters and circle important information, etc.
  • Try to put yourself in their shoes: why are they struggling to get to grips with trigonometry?
  • Guide your student without giving them the answer: letting them come to the right conclusion will not only do wonders for their self-esteem, but it will also help them to understand the exercise.
  • Show them learning strategies they can apply themselves: use mnemonics, rhymes and pictograms, for example.
  • Praise your students and them the encouragement to persevere even when you’re not around.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Tutor?

Private tutors are not required to have any specific training nor hold any type of teaching certificate. You can be an undergraduate at university, have a full time job, be retired – anyone can get involved!

Anyone can become a tutor- it's all about your level of experience in a subject Good news! You don’t need any formal teaching qualifications to become a tutor ¦ source: Pixabay

The only rule is that you register as self-employed if you are not working for a tutoring company or tutoring centre.

Whether you’re a Maths tutor, Biology tutor or Spanish tutor, a general rule for home tuition is that you are usually studying for or hold a degree in their subject, or have an appropriate level of experience to be able to teach it.

Undergraduates are particularly suited to tutor jobs since they are still in the education system, which means they know exams like the back of their hand. Being at university also means that they tend to have a flexible schedule to fit in with your busy lifestyle.

What’s more, since they are in higher education, it’s highly likely they hold two or more A levels – that’s two subjects they could teach to younger pupils. They’ll also have a good idea about college essay writing.

So if you’re a student, what’s your excuse? If you know a student, go and tell them the good news!

Read more about how and where to advertise your tutoring services.

Why Your Own Experience is Valuable to Your Students

Even if qualifications can do a lot for your credibility and what you earn, your experience outside of your academic or professional career is just as valuable as are the personal qualities you bring as a home tutor.

Your personal experience can come in handy when you become a tutor and start mentoring.

Have you ever competed in a sport at a high level?

Use your skills for the benefit of your students. These could include patience, determination and pride in your achievements.

For instance, if you’re an entrepreneur you might emphasize the importance of the self-discipline required to achieve your goals.

What Should You Teach?

The subject you choose to teach depends on your own skills as well as the demand, but most importantly, it must be something you are passionate about.

There might be a lot of GCSE students who need help for their upcoming maths exam, so if you have a degree in Physics, this could be helpful.

It gets complicated when the level of study is higher or your credentials don’t cover all aspects of your student’s course.

If you have achieved grade 8 in playing the piano, of course you’re qualified to teach beginners, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you can help someone prepare for their AS level music exam.

Teach anything you are skilled in from sports coaching to music to Spanish lessons Music lessons are often better paid than sessions for school subjects ¦ source: Pixabay

It’s because of these differences in levels of speciality that the price for one hour of tuition varies from subject to subject.

Deciding whether or not you are qualified to teach a pupil is down to you. It’s important to learn to refuse any jobs you do not feel comfortable teaching since your job should be about providing the student with the best possible help.

So be the reading tutor, Spanish tutor or biology tutor you always wanted to be! As long as you feel at ease with the student’s level, both sides will be happy.

Aspects of a Private Tutor

Let’s try to define the term ‘tutor’.

The Educator

In home Tutoring is about providing educational support and goes back longer that you’d imagine. History books show that tutors were present in Ancient Greece and Medieval England. At its origin, private tuition was about teaching reading and writing to children of the nobility, either one to one or in small groups.

Even for poorer children, they first had to learn their trade from an expert as an apprentice.

So types of tutoring can be found throughout history, as it covers so many areas.

The aim of tutoring is the same as it always has been: to transfer skill and knowledge from one person to another in order to help them overcome difficulties and succeed.

The Coach

A different way of describing what tutors do is coaching.

Being a coach in a teaching context means helping the student put their new skills into practice until they have fully mastered them.

Another aspect of coaching is helping students to get used to certain situations so they know how to tackle them. This could be, practicing test preparation, learning the format of an exam, how to show your working to gain marks, or how to write an essay .

Coaches also encourage their students and help develop their self-esteem to improve their chances of success.

So, What Exactly is a Tutor?

A tutor is someone who specialises in one particular subject (French, physics, ICT) or a specific field (science, languages, woodwind instruments).

They can be a student themselves, a certified teacher, or work in the world of business – the tutoring community comes from far and wide!

Beyond the simple repetition of key facts to make them stick in their students’ brains, tutors think outside of the box with their learning strategies. Tutors equip each student with academic coaching based on their own strengths, which they can take into the world of work when the time comes. Tailored programmes are the most effective use of time for those in education.

So tutors don’t just repeat what the student has already learnt at school, but they teach their pupil how to learn.

Private tutors can provide different lessons depending on what the student and/or their parents have asked for:

  • Academic support: The tutor helps the student in one or more subjects alongside their mainstream schooling.
  • Helping with homework: the tutor checks the student’s homework and helps them to work through any difficulties that may have arisen.
  • Private lessons: This is more of an umbrella term which refers to the tutor either helping a student in a given subject or teaching them a new one (not on the school syllabus).

Things to Consider When Fixing a Price

Hourly rates for one on one tuition vary depending on a few things:

  • Your level of expertise: Do you hold a PGCE or similar teaching qualification? Are you an undergrad student? Are you bilingual and thinking about teaching one of your languages?
  • The tutee’s level of study: What is the age of your student? Are they still at primary school or are they at a sixth from college? Are they studying towards exams at the end of the year? What are their current study habits?
  • The length of the lesson: Do they just want half an hour or 90 minutes? Maybe they want to spend an afternoon going through their homework.
  • Your experience: How long have you been tutoring for? Is this your first time? Can anyone give you a reference?
  • The subject: A one hour maths lesson will pay less than sports coaching or a guitar lesson, for example.
  • Location: Tuition rates in the UK are higher in and around major cities (such as London, Manchester and Newcastle). However, the difference is only around £3 per hour. You may also consider charging a small fee for traveling to a students house  or reduce your fee if teaching online. Read more about where to tutor here.
  • How you do business: If you work for an tutoring agency, your rates will already be set. But if you go down the self-employed route, your prices are up to you. Have a look at what other people are charging to find out what to charge and get a feel for the competition.

Don’t be afraid to discuss your rates with your clients!

Rates vary depending on subject, location, level of study and experience What should you take into account when setting your price? ¦ source: Pixabay

Keep in mind that the average price for 1 hour of tuition in the UK is £19.35. This includes all subjects including music lessons.

The question of pay is an important one so don’t be scared to ask – even if discussing money is taboo.

To sum up:

  • A good tutor will be above all adaptable. This means being able to provide their assistance regardless of the student or situation.
  • Tutors must establish a relationship of mutual trust with their students.
  • Teachers should feel able to use cognitive behavioural coaching for the benefit of their students.
  • No formal teaching qualifications are needed to become a tutor – just an appropriate level of experience in the chosen subject.
  • Keep in mind that tutors’ rates can vary depending on experience, subject and location.

Hopefully this article has helped you understand what it means to be a private tutor, and helped you with some aspects of your tutoring career!

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