If you have considered working as a tutor, with a bit of research you’ve most likely discovered some common problems with becoming a tutor.
In this blog, we aim to give you an honest perspective on the most common problems of working as a tutor. We will also share some insight on how you can alleviate or avoid these problems.
A great place to start is to look at the most common reasons people seek a role as a tutor. Often enough, one’s inability to achieve their goals will be the main root of their frustrations with their job as a tutor. During the hundreds of conversations we have had with tutors who either work for us or work for themselves, we have found that there are a couple of factors that initially drive them to seek tutoring as a job:
a simple desire to earn some extra money during their years at university, on maternity leave or after office/school work hours;
the want to work with children and adolescents by sharing their knowledge and learnings with them; and
the eagerness to work autonomously and in their local area.
As well as these factors that someone may consider when seeking a job as a tutor, they may also feel quite frustrated with their previous jobs in retail or hospitality, with a strong desire to have a more fulfilling role whilst also making great income.
There is no doubt that working as a tutor can be a great solution to overcoming these challenges, and providing a university student or qualified/ex-teacher a job that provides them with fulfilment, flexibility and a competitive hourly rate. There are an innumerable number of tutors who have benefited greatly from working and supporting students throughout their journey at school.
Nonetheless, not all tutors are successful in gaining the benefits of tutoring. While there are many tutors who are raving fans of the job and its benefits, there are also plenty who are prepared to share how tutoring did not provide the benefits they were looking for. Let’s look at the most common reasons for that.
What are the most common problems with working as a tutor?
The tutor does not have access to many resources.
Having access to, and selecting, the best resources for a student can be a daunting task, especially if the tutor does not have a teaching qualification. For a lesson to be successful, studies show that the teacher should know the student and their ability, as well as the curriculum, in order to utilise resources that pose some challenge for the student, but are not too difficult that it overwhelms them. In order to do any of this, the tutor must have access to a wider range of resources.
There is a negative impact on the student, and their parents, when tutoring a student without access to good-quality resources. It hinders their progress and quite simply, wastes their time.
To overcome this challenge, a tutor can subscribe to online teaching resources. Of course, there is an ongoing cost when subscribing to these resources. There are several that we personally use, including:
Now, whilst this is a challenge for many private tutors, tutors who work amongst a tutoring company will find that this is something they do not need to worry about. Tutoring companies have access to thousands of resources which their tutors would have access to, saving them hours upon hours of searching for relevant resources.
Preparing for lessons takes up a lot of time.
To reword an old saying; "half-baked bread doesn't taste good." Neither will poorly preparing for your tutoring sessions. Taking the time to prepare for a tutoring session is just as important as showing up to it. Without preparation, the student can’t truly benefit from the practise.
Yes, preparing for tutoring sessions takes time; anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes depending on the student’s needs, as well as your experience in the subject. Strategies that can be used to reduce this time include having easy access to high-quality resources, following a routine and program, and building on your knowledge of the content.
The duration it takes one to prepare for a lesson tends to be greater for the tutors who are working independently. In the case of tutoring centers or companies who had qualified teachers and resources at their tutors’ fingertips, the time it takes to prepare for tutoring sessions tends to be lower and continues to decrease over time. This is due to the time and effort that is invested in the development of the tutors who work in these companies. By investing in developing tutors’ knowledge, productivity and efficiency, tutors are able to spend less time planning for their lessons, yet achieve just as much (and usually more) than they would if they were working independently.
It is hard to source and find students that fit your schedule.
That perfect schedule is definitely achievable, but for independent tutors, not often easy to come by. Of course, when working with a tutoring company, this challenge is often mitigated as tutors have access to a pool of students who they can handpick based on their schedule and personal preferences.
It is understandable that sourcing students that fit perfectly into your seven day schedule is a difficult task. This includes finding, and keeping, students who are not only available when you are and fit the grade and subject selection that you have experience in, but are also located in prime locations. It almost seems impossible, but it isn’t. If you have already started your journey as a tutor, rank your students from the most ideal to the least ideal. These are the types of students you want more of, and there is one very simple, and incredibly effective strategy to get more of them: just ask! At this point, I would trust that you have built a good connection with your student and their parent/s, and are ‘wowing’ them each week. That being said, I would also imagine that your student would have friends (and friends of friends) who could use similar help. Another hot tip - offer them a free lesson for every friend they refer who becomes a student! It’s a win-win.
Lack of self-confidence in new curriculums or teaching strategies.
It is not uncommon for tutors to have no teaching qualifications. A large percentage of tutors often begin their tutoring career when they first graduate from high school. Why? The knowledge from the high school curriculum is fresh in their minds - that is often the best time to share that knowledge with students from younger grades. Whilst tutoring is a fantastic job for those driven freshly graduated students, there’s no doubt that the lack of formal training of the curriculum and teaching pedagogies can be a challenge.
For tutors who are welcomed with open homes into an established tutoring company are often met with several opportunities for growth and development in these areas. Of course, such opportunities are not as easily available for starting tutors who have chosen to work independently. If that is you, I trust that you would benefit from purchasing a subscription to some of the resource links above, as many of them have syllabus points and checklists that will help you in understanding exactly what is expected of your students from a curriculum perspective.
In addition to this, tutors with no teaching experience would benefit greatly from training with a qualified teacher. Pedagogy’s are always updating and being developed in order to work with our ever-changing world, therefore, the benefit would lie in being trained by or researching current qualified educators.
As briefly mentioned, tutors who are part of a company will find that personal and professional development come with the job!
Working for yourself is challenging and can be lonely.
When working in any role, community and a sense of belonging have extreme importance. Unfortunately for tutors who choose to go out on their own as independent tutors are left feeling quite lonely. What comes with the pursuit of working for yourself is a lack of guidance, support and opportunities to bounce your thoughts and ideas off other people and improve. Of course, tutors who engage with tutoring companies and tight knit teams are able to overcome this challenge. By working for a tutoring company, whether that be at a centre or working remotely, you have the benefit of working independently; in the way of running your own sessions and classes; whilst also working amongst other tutors and professionals.
Tutors who seek out to work for themselves can join online forums, such as the Facebook group, Tutors of Sydney (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1164941134336184), to have access to other tutors in their area. Independent tutors see value in this as they are given the opportunity to communicate, seek information and share knowledge with other independent tutors. So whilst it can be quite lonely and daunting working for yourself as a tutor, there are definitely options and pathways you can take to enjoy the perks of working independently, but with a team backing you!
There you have it - the five most common problems that tutors face when working as a tutor. We have no doubt that there are others. While some will choose not to work as a tutor due to these problems, many will look at ways to mitigate these challenges and make the most out of the job. The very aim of working as a tutor should ensure that it provides a positive Return on Investment. A good tutoring job will deliver that. For more discussion about the best Tutoring Companies in Sydney, see our Blog “The Best Tutoring Companies in Sydney. An Honest Comparison”. Perhaps you’d like to work for one!
To summarise, by understanding your strengths as a tutor, and by knowing how to make the most out of your resources, you should be able to avoid these challenges. Being aware of the challenges and the best ways to mitigate them should help you in making the best selection.