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A Roadmap for Teaching Maths

From Sophia, published on 02/06/2017 We Love Prof - UK > Academia > Maths > A Guide to Being A Successful Maths Tutor

Due to the very nature of maths, it would seem that that subject is daunting to many students. Judging by the volume of websites that offer online maths help, the need for maths tutors is great and growing.

In this article you have a guide to becoming a maths tutor.

There is no law requiring any certification or licensing to tutor in the UK. Therefore, if you have the necessary skill and are passionate about numbers, shapes, equations and functions, there is nothing stopping you from imbuing your future students with maths competence.

Tutoring in maths can be enriching and rewarding for you and your students.

Enabling a fundamental understanding of maths and logic not only permits your students to pass exams, but they can use ‘mathematical thinking’ and logic in all aspects of their life which, in turn, serves to advance society.

Besides, you get to set your hours and the pay is pretty good!

Without further ado, let us explore the many ways you can convert your maths skills and teaching abilities into a productive, fiscally attractive, mutually rewarding venture.

Tutoring in maths is rewarding for you and your student You can offer many different types of maths help. Source: Pixabay


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How to Become a Maths Tutor

Generally, when one ponders that topic, a highly degreed professor comes to mind because such worthies offer a wide range of experience and deep subject knowledge.

The good news is that, even if you do not (yet) have a maths degree, it is not necessary for you to study for years in order to help students today.

There are a variety of ways to be a maths mentor:

  • General maths support. In this type of tutoring, you would work regularly with your students to help them understand the mechanics of maths – the nuts and bolts of the subject, so to speak. What you teach depends on the students’ school curriculum. Homework help emphasized.

  • Preparation for examination. The UK’s three major maths exams, KS3, KS4 and GCSE are grueling. They are the primary reason parents seek help for their learners.

  • Teaching maths is similar to, but a bit more advanced than general maths support. You would have more latitude to instill and reinforce broader aspects of maths concepts and applications. Doing so is a bit more work but the benefits to your students are exponential.

Before engaging as a maths tutor, you should ask yourself:

What are your maths competencies? Are you indeed a highly degreed professor with years of calculus applications under your belt? Are you equal to the challenge of instructing at university level or would you prefer working with younger learners – say, those preparing for their KS3 exam?

Are you looking to establish yourself as a full-time educator, or would your foray into the maths tutoring arena be more of a summer break gig, until you start your next college semester?

Would you want to tutor in students’ homes, in your home or in a more public setting, such as a library or even a café?

All of these questions are meant to help you determine who you can help, where and when you would work and how much you stand to earn as a tutor in maths.

Learning disabilities can prevent students from absorbing lessons Students with maths anxiety need special care and attention. Source: Pixabay

Qualities Needed to Teach Maths

Even though anyone endowed with maths competence could give maths help, there are certain qualities that distinguish a stellar educator of maths from an average one, or even a bad one.

Math anxiety is a very real phenomenon that affects an estimated 2-6% of secondary school students in the UK. Such sufferers may grasp mathematical concepts but perhaps cannot apply them well.

Worse case scenario would be the student who is so unsettled by the subject that he or she cannot do even simple maths exercises easily or well.

The best maths tutors empathize with their students. They put themselves in their pupils’ place in order to understand their specific difficulty, and find suitable workarounds. To help your student relax and enjoy learning about and using maths, you could play maths games as a prelude to the lesson, for example.

Learning disabilities, such as dyscalculia can keep your charges from grasping even the simplest of maths concepts. Learners who have trouble reasoning and counting, who cannot grasp concepts such as ranging numbers from biggest to smallest might need your patience more than your maths expertise.

And, speaking of expertise…

It might seem redundant to emphasize that a maths teacher should be a master of the discipline, at least to whatever level he or she wishes to instruct, but it is necessary to drive that point home.

Consider the fact that you will be called on to answer any question your tutee might pose. You will be expected to clarify difficult subject material and help struggle through complex equations. And you must do so with a surety that only one well-versed in the subject can have.

It would be preferable for you to have undergone the same learning trajectory as those you teach maths to, at least in general terms.

As an example: if you received your education in Scotland, you are perfectly qualified to assist students in England or Ireland, but it might be more challenging because tests and core standards in those countries are different.

Every learner is unique, and each one presents a singular set of requirements for you to meet. Whether teaching elementary math or Algebra, it is necessary to adapt your knowledge, skills, abilities and experience to each of your students’ needs.

A student’s achievements proclaim his teacher’s abilities.

The old engineering adage, KISS – Keep it Simple, Sir! also applies to teaching maths. You should dilute difficult concepts into everyday language, or through real-world examples: slicing a pie to explain fractions, for example.

For your younger, or more hands-on students, try using building blocks, hoops and other shapes to explain geometry and arithmetic.

Good maths skills require vision and imagination. While you are formally called on to help develop students’ maths proficiency, keep in mind that you are unofficially training their minds to work in a rational, logical manner.

Using visual aids, props, kinaesthenics and even music are all great ways to reinforce such learning.

Assured guidance in maths means students learn better You will guide your pupils through the intricacies of maths studies. Source: Pixabay

Teaching Maths, Step by Step

Maths teaching is seldom a spontaneous activity; much goes into planning lessons tailored to each student’s needs.

Review your materials prior to each tutoring session. Take time to look at that day’s work before you meet with your pupil. Try to anticipate students’ difficulties and formulate responses in advance.

Before moving to another concept, ensure your student has fully understood and retained the previous lesson. Prepare a few test questions, perhaps related to students’ interests: “How many players would Manchester have at the next game if 12% of them are out sick?”, for example.

Prepare props or handouts to help explain new material. If you are helping prepare for maths revision GCSE or other exam, feel free to give a mock test, just to assess what facet of the exam your assistance is most needed.

In fact, you should randomly test your student throughout the course of your teaching, to pinpoint weaknesses and prove strengths.

Reprimanding or otherwise disapproving of incorrect answers or uncertainty is counterproductive. A positive, encouraging attitude is a must! Gentle corrections would be suitable or, better yet: guide your pupil to the desired answer.

How to Find Students

That answer is surprisingly easy. You can:

  • Work through a tutoring agency. The benefit is that clients come to you and their needs have already been assessed. The downside is that you would be an employee, working within the confines of that company and your pay could be less than if you worked independently.

  • Placing an ad online is an easy and cost-effective way to advertise your services, but it is possible that your ad could be overlooked, especially if you choose to not pay for premium placement.

    • While you’re online, you can do a search for students who have placed an ad for a tutor and offer your services.

  • Word of mouth is a powerful advertisement medium. Talk yourself up! A chat with a neighbor, a casual exchange at the local grocer and, who knows? Your first student may well be living right next to you.

The Question of Earnings

How much you can make depends on what level and what facet of maths instruction you give, your experience in teaching maths, where you live and when you work.

Generally speaking, maths tutors in England earn between £23 and £33 per hour.

If you are based in London, you stand to earn more than if you worked in or around York.

If you teach GCSE maths or university-level maths, you could charge more than if you instruct elementary level maths.

If you choose to teach online, you would save any commuter costs, thus increasing your net profit.

No matter which avenue you choose or what level you help students excel at, giving maths lessons is sure to bring you and your students rewards.

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