Have you ever thought about becoming a maths tutor, teaching the guitar, or offering a language course?
Tutoring is a fantastic thing to do whether you're an undergraduate looking to earn some extra cash, or you're thinking about becoming a teacher in the future and you'd like some practical experience. Many industry professionals also offer tutoring services after school outside of their working hours as they realise the value of sharing their knowledge with learners.
The idea of one to one tutoring may be attractive, but if you're new to the world of supplemental instruction, starting out can be daunting. So, whether you're a student yourself looking to help those younger than you, or you have lots of experience in your field, here are some top tips for those new to tutoring jobs who are finding their feet.
This article will tell you all you need to know about teaching, including how to find clients and how to establish a good relationship with them, as well as how to structure your lessons, and what steps to take to get the most out of your new job!
How to Become a Private Tutor?
When you are giving one on one, individualised lessons, you must keep in mind that you are providing a service. As a private tutor, the notion of service is very important because you are 'at the service' of your students, and therefore, you must listen carefully to their goals as well as lesson feedback and respond accordingly.
In order to make the best progress towards achieving your student's goals, you must first build a relationship of trust.
This is an essential quality of a good one to one tutor and will put you on the road to good student success rates.
Having such a relationship with your tutee will help you to get to know them better and therefore deliver a more personalised learning programme.
The majority of private tutors have first-hand experience of their chosen topic, meaning they hold a professional qualification in it or they are currently studying it at university.
Of course, you can't teach the piano if you've never had a lesson yourself! It's down to common sense and whether or not you feel qualified to teach your chosen subject.
Want to be a science tutor? Maybe you have a degree in physics, but if you are also bilingual in English and French, but are without a certificate to prove it, nothing can stop you from teaching French as a foreign language as well.
Just bear in mind that your qualifications will have an influence on your earnings as a private tutor.
The Procedures for Becoming a Tutor
In case you were wondering, you don't need to have any particular degree to give peer tutoring - a good level of knowledge in your subject is enough. There are no legal requirements that may prevent you from becoming a tutor, however, it is recommended that you obtain a DBS certificate for peace of mind.
Having a DBS certificate is also something you can mention in your advertisements and will make you more attractive to parents of younger children in particular as it shows that you're not only serious about your role as an educator, but that you care for the peace of mind of parents and students, too.
To legally earn money through tutor jobs, you'll need to observe a few formalities depending on how you intend to do business.
Being Self-Employed as a Tutor
Being self-employed means keeping track of your earnings and filling out your own self-assessment tax return at the end of each tax year. This is to make sure that you pay the correct amount of tax based on what you earn.
Get public liability insurance to protect you in the case of injury or damage claims that may be linked to your work as a home tutor. Having insurance isn't a legal requirement for private tutors but it will ensure that you are protected whatever happens and put your mind at ease.
Working for a Tutoring Agency
Working for a business can take some of the work off your shoulders. In the case of personal tutoring services, the organisation will find your students for you, so you are always guaranteed work, however sometimes, like with other jobs, they need a minimum level of qualification.
While some agencies just ask for a good level of experience in your chosen subject, others only recruit tutors who have graduated from top universities or who have become a certified teacher and have classroom experience - so check the requirements before applying for vacancies.
Working for an agency has many benefits. You get to don the cape with their name and they do the paperwork for you! So all you need to worry about is getting your payslip at the end of the month.
You can also work for an online tutoring business and deliver your one to one lessons via webcam on behalf of the company. This will allow you to build an online presence and gain a reputation without the need to worry about travelling and the associated costs.
Find Clients for your Tutoring Jobs
Now you know a bit more about what is required to become a tutor, you need someone to teach!
But where to find them?
There are lots of different ways to get your name out there, and we recommend that you use all of them to cover every base and gain the interest of as many clients as possible.
- Use your networks: As with any job, think of those who are closest to you - your friends and family! These are the first people you will speak to about your new endeavours and so they are the first people that will spread the word. Then head to your social networks: a small ad on Facebook or a pinned Tweet could be seen by hundreds of people who may be future pupils or know someone who will be. If you already have a few students, they are your adverts! They may have family members or friends who could benefit from your help. Don't forget about your local community either! Talk to your neighbours and give them your details - word of mouth travels fast!
- Hand out flyers: Make some adverts and put them in your local shop windows and by the counters (with permission, of course!) and post your leaflets through the letterboxes on the streets near you. You'll have seen this being done before, now it's your turn! Make sure you include key info (such as your qualifications and experience) and even testimonials from your students!
- Advertise in schools: From primary schools to colleges, most of your potential students are in these places five days a week. Putting up posters at the school gates is the best way to target parents who think their child could benefit from extra academic support. Having your name known by schoolteachers is also a huge benefit, as parents are likely to trust your name if it's coming from their child's teacher.
- Use online platforms: Sign up to Superprof, it's simple, free and quick! You set your rates and the students come to you. Having an online presence is also incredibly beneficial for building your reputation. Nowadays, people head straight to Google at the first mention of anything, so if they can see good reviews and testimonials, it's highly likely they'll want to get in touch.
- Create your own website: If LinkedIn isn't working for you, you can make your own web page to show off your CV and portfolio. This is also a good thing to have on your flyers so people can find you online and learn more about the services you offer as well as your educational and professional background.
How to Find Online Tutoring Jobs?
Going away for a few weeks and want to keep in touch with your students? Why not improve your accessibility and become an online tutor?
All you need to tutor online is a computer, a webcam with a microphone, and a Skype account!
Online tutoring is just as effective as in-home tutoring or small group sessions - it just demands a different setup. As always, the productivity of a lesson, whether online or in person, depends on the student's level of motivation and the teacher's capabilities.
However, we advise that you invest in high-quality webcam equipment to ensure that your online sessions are of a high enough quality that they are without interruption or misunderstanding caused by technical difficulties. Taking the time to make sure that the lesson takes place without a hitch will ensure that your teaching is as effective as it would be in person.
You can even find new advantages to modernising your teaching methods: use screen sharing, Google Drive, and applications like Whatsapp to make sure that you and your pupils are communicating effectively and help them get the most out of your hourly sessions.
And guess what? You won't even be out of pocket! Average rates for online lessons are the same as those for lessons delivered in person - and you don't have travel costs to worry about, so in many ways, delivering your lessons online is more cost-effective for tutors.
So, whether you choose to carry on meeting your students in person exclusively, you want to move your lessons online, or a mix of the two would suit you, you can keep your clientele and expand your services to the wider world!
So, if you think online tutoring will suit you, where do you begin? There are plenty of platforms where you can advertise your online lessons such as Gumtree, but there are many which are specifically dedicated to tutors and teachers.
Here are some of the most popular ones:
Tutorful is open for all kinds of tutors, whether complete newbies or seasoned professionals to advertise their services. Because it is a platform, rather than an agency, you're not restricted to the subject you can teach and you can decide your own rates and hours.
So, how does it work?
First, you sign up and create your own tutoring profile for free. Next, you start messaging students who may be in need of your services. Once you've found a learner who would like a lesson with you, you book the lesson into your teaching timetable. Once you've had the arranged lesson with your student, their lesson fees (minus the commission paid to tutorful) are paid into your bank account.
Superprof is an online tutoring platform which allows tutors of any subject to advertise their services for free. Again, tutors are able to create a profile detailing their education, qualifications and their specialisms as well as setting their own hourly rates. You can even offer your first lesson for free to give prospective students a taste of your teaching style!
Unlike Tutorful, Superprof lets the students find their tutors by looking at various profiles and reading reviews from other students - so you don't have to spend any time contacting students who may not be interested. What's more, by organising your lessons through Superprof, you can keep 100% of your earnings - there's no commission!
Working for yourself as a private tutor is flexible. You can work as little or as often as you want.
So, post your ad and wait for the messages to come pouring in.
TutorMe offers online tuition exclusively. Students simple type in the subject they need help with and are connected with a tutor who can assist them for a period of time.
TutorMe works like an online tutoring agency. Tutors must apply to be able to teach for them and detail their education and professional experience as well as the subject(s) they are able to teach. Once your application has been approved, TutorMe will identify students who could benefit from your skillset and send them your way - so you won't spend any time looking for clients!
Once each lesson is over, both tutor and tutee rate each other out of five stars (like Uber) - a good way to build up your online reputation.
Payments from TutorMe are weekly, and they sort out all of the billing for your teaching time.
- Keystone Tutors
Keystone Tutors is a popular one on one tutoring agency which provides in-person as well as online tutoring. As quite a prestigious organisation, becoming a tutor for Keystone is not easy, as they're looking for those who have taught in a classroom environment or have at least two years of tutoring experience. They're always hiiring, so, if you're passionate about educating others or want to be involved in extra-curricular education in the future, applying to teach for Keystone tutors could be something to work towards. Keystone Tutors is available for tutors of almost all academic subjects, so if you want to offer math tutoring, English tutoring, or be a physics, biology, psychology, business, history, economics or chemistry tutor, you're eligible to apply to Keystone.
Keystone also offers academic advising services which are aimed at schools and students who may need guidance with qualifications or university choices, so if you see yourself as a mentor or guide, this is a viable route for career progression.
Where to Host your Lessons?
The most obvious place to help your student develop academically is in their own home.
It's often easier to teach a pupil who is in a familiar space and therefore more relaxed, however, sometimes the family environment is not ideal for studying, especially if your student has siblings!
You should use your imagination and find new and interesting places that have the right atmosphere to be a good learning environment. From kindergarten children to A level and beyond, changing the place of study can have positive effects: it adds an element of fun, stimulates the curiosity of the student and will do wonders for their confidence by teaching them to adapt to different environments!
Here are a few ideas as to where you could hold your sessions:
- Libraries: A library or bookstore is an ideal place to revise for GCSE exams, for example.
- Museums: You may find a World War II exhibition that could be incorporated into your history lesson!
- In a park: Kids learn better when they're at ease, so a bit of fresh air in a relaxed area could improve their study routine.
- Cafés: Teaching languages in busy public environments means that the situation becomes less formal and more casual, promoting natural conversation in the target language.
There are no limits to teaching - so get creative and find out what works best for you and your pupils!
Tailoring Lessons for Your Tutees
As we mentioned earlier, maintaining a good teacher-pupil relationship is essential to providing the best level of support and to get more jobs after teaching.
If a student is taking private lessons, it is because they need individualised academic support, not because they need a rehash of what they have already struggled to understand in class! Therefore, tailoring your classes is key to successful tutoring.
To begin developing a relationship with your student, we recommend that you organise a pre-lesson meeting with them. This is an opportunity to ask them about why they wanted to find an educational instructor, the type of progress they hope to make and what specific goals they have in mind. You can also use this time to conduct a short assessment of your student which may highlight the areas in which they need the most encouragement.
You can also use the student's parents as a guide: figure out how they are feeling about their child's academic career and address any worries they may have. After all, they know their child better than anyone and are usually the first ones to seek help after spotting any difficulties. The parents may also be able to tell you about the thoughts of their child's teacher on their learning, so ask about the feedback they have been given at parents' evenings to get a general picture of their child's academic strengths and weaknesses.
Explain your approach to teaching and be sure to involve parents in their child's progress. This is also important for the child, who may need to feel supported to fulfil their potential.
It's common for children with specific learning difficulties or disabilities (SpLDs) such as dyslexia or ADHD to turn to supplemental instruction to help them learn how to cope with their educational needs in the classroom. As an educator, it's your job to teach them how to learn by equipping them with learning strategies that suit them.
You can even show students how to take advantage of the characteristics of their learning difficulties to make their time in the classroom more worthwhile. For example, students with ADD/ADHD are known to respond well to activities that involve physical movement (this is also known as kinesthetic learning), whereas dyslexic pupils are more likely to be visual learners. The best way to identify a student's preferred learning style is to try out a range of strategies and see what works best for them.
It's important to recognise your student's strengths as well as their weaknesses, to avoid demoralising them. If you only work on the problem areas, you risk harming their self-esteem and setting them back even further, so make sure that you use their strengths to boost the areas where they need to improve.
It's best to analyse your student's strengths and incorporate them into the learning strategies so that your pupil feels confident in themselves.
The tutor can use their student's strengths and weaknesses to personalise the learning process. This part of home tuition can be the best help for the student, who can take the new learning skills into the classroom and feel more confident among their peers. Knowing which study skills suit their personal learning style can also come in handy later in life when it comes to revising for university exams or even preparing for a job interview, for instance.
Tutoring in Non-Academic Disciplines
It is no secret that the lion's share of the tutoring market is in academic subjects.
Where does that leave musicians and dancers, painters and chefs who wish to teach their particular skill; to infect others with the passion and desire to learn and perfect their craft?
The good news is that, no matter what your discipline, there will most likely be a market for it.
These days, there is renewed focus on positive life experiences: picking up a new hobby, for example, or learning something new, just for the fun of learning.
People are also paying more attention to fitness and wellness. Under those umbrella terms are housed a range of disciplines from yoga and Zumba to nutrition and food preparation. And let's not forget personal training; in fact, the personal training industry is booming in the UK!!
Some people might want to cultivate their creative spirit by learning painting, drawing, sculpting, photography and even graphic art while others, who've always longed to play a music instrument are finally taking the chance to do so.
And then, there are those of a professional bent.
They're not necessarily looking for continuing education in their field, either! Potential public speakers - those aspiring to a management position and even school teachers are looking for voice coaching to build their confidence and sound more authoritative.
Others have clued in to the benefits of speaking a second language and are keen to find a tutor to aid them on their quest! On the other side of that coin you will find international students and other populations looking for an English tutor to help them polish their English language skills.
Each of theses mentioned instances is an opportunity for you to teach your craft or ply your skills to the enrichment of your pupils and the ways you could do so are as diverse as the disciplines themselves!
Whereas academic tutoring really only works within set parameters, leading instruction in non-academic subjects can take several forms.
Let's say you aspire to teach budding musicians how to play the drums. You may:
- Host a drum clinic, an event where you demonstrate an aspect of playing and then go around the room, helping your students individually, followed by a Q&A session.
- Host workshops: similar to a drum clinic but the topics are more wide-ranging, with plenty of student hands-on time.
- Start a drumming circle: a unique form of stress relief and community; an ideal way to get people interested in learning the drums.
- Coordinate a drum camp with other drummers in your area.
Naturally, drums may also be taught in the same manner as academic subjects: at clients' homes, in your home; in a mutually agreed location such as a music store or record shop, and they can even be taught online!
You may follow a similar format to introduce your speciality you intend to tutor whether it be cooking, yoga, sewing, singing, photography or dance.
In fact, hosting open, introductory sessions is a great way to advertise your talent and teaching ability!
Making a Good Tutor Advert
When coming up with your advert, look around you and get inspired! You can look on tutoring websites (such as Superprof.co.uk) or even in your local shop to see what other people have done. Look at each advertisment and think about which aspects you like as well as the things that could be added to improve them.
Who hasn't taken ideas from a good resume when writing their own? It works the same way with your flyers!
When you're creating the leaflets to post through people's letterboxes, you need to make yourself stand out. Whether it's by sticking to a noticeable colour scheme as a sort of 'brand' for yourself, structuring your leaflet in a certain way or incorporating a slogan of your very own, there are lots of things you can do to make yourself memorable. Do the same thing for the posters you'll display in shops, on community notice boards or at the school gates.
- Use a bit of colour but don't go overboard.
- Write the name of the subject you teach in bold lettering - clarity is key.
- Detail what qualifications you hold and what school years or age range you are looking to teach.
- And of course, don't forget your contact details!
- Keep it simple! Get people interested with key details. Your clients can always find out more by visiting your web page or giving you a call.
Keep it concise! Adverts should a short and sweet, a bit like a CV. People won't spend long deciding whether they want to consider your services, so don't keep them long!
Don't forget to mention specific areas that might interest people. For example, if you're advertising as a math and science tutor, promote your ability to provide trigonometry, calculus, algebra, or geometry homework help. This will pique the interest of parents who know their children are struggling with one of these specific areas.
Humanities undergraduates can make fabulous history tutors or writing tutors for people looking for academic tutoring in a specific subject or in a general area such as reading and writing, so target your fliers towards people who are looking for a reading tutor for their child, for example.
As an undergrad, you are equipped with the perfect knowledge to help people in the education system with test taking, so exploit the skills you have gained through all those years of education and help others to succeed. If you've recently finished your A-Level exams, you will be particularly in-demand because of your familiarity with the curriculum and test prep experience.
After all, education is about much more than knowledge - it's about being able to apply it - but in order to demonstrate this, you need to know your way around an exam. After several years of sitting exams, this is something university students are experts in. Helping students improve their exam technique is something else you can advertise for GCSE and A Level students.
Expand your reach to get the maximum number of clients. Use the same to-the-point adverts in the local paper as you do online to create a recognisable brand for yourself and build a trustworthy reputation. This will stand you in good stead if ever you need to relocate or you choose to move your business online. Good ratings and online testimonials from your students will dramatically increase the number of people considering your services.
The Qualities of a Good Tutor
"I want to learn Chinese!" " OK, I'll teach you."
On the surface, this is a very clear-cut exchange: the prospective student has expressed the desire to learn and the proposed teacher, who is a native Chinese speaker, has agreed to teach... right?
What this conversation does not reveal - and sadly, the tutor did not ask about, was the student's motivation for learning. Is it a fascination for Chinese culture driving the request or does the student foresee Mandarin becoming a cornerstone of his/her career?
Is s/he a holidaymaker headed to Hong Kong or an eager design student sailing to Shanghai for Fashion Week?
In themselves, those two destinations beg the question: which style of Chinese should be taught? Mandarin or Cantonese or even Shanghainese?
This unfortunate, actual encounter is a prime example illustrating that, while everybody may have a talent to share, not everybody has yet developed the necessary skills and qualities to teach.
In fact, there are several qualities which are essential to a successful teaching career:
- Attention to detail
- Teaching skills
Display good organisational skills by creating a structured and personalised learning programme for each of your students. Every pupil is different and you must be able to adapt your work to each of their situations and goals.
Learning plans should be created on the basis of careful discussion with your student (and even their parents). Ask about what areas they need help with and what they want to achieve. It's also a good idea to ask about a time-frame, especially if your student has upcoming exams or mocks.
Of course, the methodology stays more or less the same since it is the solid base which can change to align with the specific needs of your students. You will know your teaching strategies like the back of your hand, so they are yours to chop and change to create tailored lesson plans for each of your clients.
In order to make this possible with each and every student you tutor, you must ask open questions.
Let's say you are a math tutor with the insider knowledge that maths is the leading subject most students seek tutoring in. That doesn't mean every student has the same difficulty, which means you get to put on your detective hat for a bit of investigation.
Is there a learning disability to factor in?
Dyscalculia is a very real barrier to students being able to recognise and work with numbers. Number relationships and relating numbers to their values is very difficult for them, even exercises in comparing numbers can be a source of frustration.
In such cases, you may make use of math games and props rather than worksheets and verbal work.
Other disabilities that may afflict your student are math anxiety - a very real phenomenon, attention deficit disorder or ADD and the closely-related hyperactivity disorder also known as ADHD.
In such instances, moving around could help: hand clapping and singing, dancing around and even drumming answers out on the table may help.
Learning disabilities could be an underlying factor for why students have not mastered fundamental number facts and why they experience computational weakness.
Incomplete knowledge of multiplication tables, how to divide correctly and whether one should solve the multiplication and division in an equation before any addition or subtraction can take place are all fundamental math concepts that, if your student has not yet mastered, would be best to focus on before moving to the next level or even addressing work at his/her current level.
On the other hand, computation weaknesses like carrying the wrong number when multiplying or dividing, misreading symbols and writing numbers in the wrong columns - values in the hundreds column instead of the thousands column, for example, point to a greater need to focus and pay attention to detail.
Here, you may use gridded worksheets, flashcards or number cards s/he can arrange on the table, and reinforcing properties of various mathematical operations would help a great deal.
What if your student is simply not interested in maths?
That is where it is incumbent upon you to make the material come to life!
Among the qualities of a good tutor lies the psychological approach. Put yourself in your student's shoes and ask yourself questions about what to do differently to get the best results.
This is where your deep wells of empathy comes in.
Statistics show that bullying, in particular cyber-bullying has increased dramatically over the last year. Hurtful, destructive messages have been flying around classrooms without the teachers being aware his/her most vulnerable students are being tortured in their presence.
In such situations, students find it hard to concentrate on their studies and they dare not confide their troubles to anyone 'official': caregivers, teachers or school administrators.
You, as their tutor, have the responsibility to understand why this student needs your services in the first place. That they are struggling academically could be a given... but why?
If you've been engaged to help a student prepare for an exam, there is (probably) not much to worry about. However, if your task is to provide academic support and homework help, you may need to delve further into the causes your services are needed in the first place.
That is one reason why building a relationship of trust is critical.
Build a relationship of trust so that your student can help you as much as you help them. Openness in the teacher-pupil relationship is key to maintaining a positive and productive atmosphere in which the student feels safe to address any concerns they may have or ask about anything they don't understand.
Try to have routine appointments with your students so you can follow their progress in the long term. This is the best way to achieve the student's goals since they tend to work harder when they know they are being tracked, and the longer you follow them, the better you will get to know them!
- There aren't many rules when it comes to private tutoring jobs and mentoring, just choose whether you want to be self-employed or work for an agency.
- Cover all bases when looking for clients. Approach your family, social media, local press, and put up posters in your community to expand your outreach.
- Keep adverts concise. Only display the most important information: your name, what you teach, and your contact details. You could include your main qualifications if necessary, but don't go into so much detail that people get bored of reading.
- Tutoring via webcam lets you work anywhere without lowering your rates!
- Think out of the box when it comes to choosing a classroom. Teach in a museum, in a library or even a park - the possibilities are endless!
- The best tutors exhibit clarity, patience, attention to detail and skill. You also have to be incredibly adaptable to different situations and environments to provide consistent results.
- Finally, think about involving the parents in their child's progress by using them to build a personalised learning plan and inform them of their child's progress.
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