Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lockdown at KSU

I was just telling myself yesterday morning how I haven't written a blog post in a while. And lo and behold, I have something to write about NOW!

Unlike other tutors, I do not have a "place of business". I drive to all of my students. I am a frequent visitor to Kennesaw State University to tutor many students in the biology and chemistry departments.

Well, today, I went to tutor Sally, one of my most dedicated students. We were studying for her Organic Chemistry final next week and planning study dates for her Genetics final the following week. After 2 hours, I got up, said my goodbyes and walked up stairs to leave the library. I tried push open a door and it won't open. I try to push another door and the mass of students I apparently did not notice laugh at me. One of the library staff informed me that campus is on lockdown for a suspected gunman on campus!

Sally was excited she got free tutoring until I could leave campus! Haha

I respond with "Wait, how long has this been going on?"
"Over an hour and a half! Where have you been?!?"
"Downstairs tutoring!"

We never had anyone make an announcement to the students on the basement level about the lockdown. Then I remember seeing two (maybe three?) police officers walking around--not campus safety but fully armed policemen.
I go back to the basement inform everyone downstairs. Some people are surprised and others wonder how I did not know. About 10 students in the basement and I talk about the situation and our experiences with lockdowns in the past.

My alma matar, Rochester Institute of Technology, had a number of lockdowns. One of them became wildly popular... campus safety mistook an UMBRELLA for a RIFLE! (No, I am not kidding. Read the article. It was pretty ridiculous.)

Click the picture or HERE to read the article.
Praise the Lord no one was hurt. Sally and I discussed some more resonance structures and functional groups before someone came downstairs and said the lockdown was lifted. Getting out of the parking lot was not a fun experience but I made it ON TIME for my next tutoring appointment! Win!
I did run out of caffeine during the lockdown though.

So what is the moral of the story?
When you hire me as your tutor, not even dangerous gunmen can distract you from learning! I'm that good ;)
Totally joking. But in all seriousness, I really do praise the Lord that everyone was safe and the situation ended rather quickly. Thank you to KSU for protecting its students.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Relay for Life

One of my college students, Sanam, asked me to join her team for Relay for Life.

Relay for Life is a fundraising activity from the American Cancer Society. We volunteered to help survivors enjoy their night.

The weather got in the way of the events starting early, so we started setting up for the Survivor Dinner a little late. The theme was Mardi Gras and celebration! The event was able to host about 50 survivors, each with a different story to tell about their amazing road to recovery! It was a fun experience being able to set up, decorate, and do a small part to make the night memorable for these brave people.

Sanam and a few other people put together the center pieces and I helped get tables set up as well as get the buffet area organized.

Then we all tried to tie ribbons on helium balloons... It took a little while to get used to doing it by yourself. It was a team effort for the first half, haha!

We had to leave early unfortunately but it was a great time! That was my second Relay for Life event. They are always so much fun! Next time, I'll have to stay overnight.

Tutor and Tutee :) Our faces don't usually look this weird... Okay maybe they do...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Right Brainers in Business

The very lovely Jennifer Lee, author of two books, has started a FREE online business conference for the creative at heart.
Visit Jayne's blog here :)

My sweet blogger buddy, Jayne, shared a link for the Right Brainers in Business video chat session and I am totally getting the encouragement I need to keep working toward this zany tutoring business I've dived into (doved? diven? idk)! I was really excited about doing it (especially since it is free!), but I totally forgot to sign up for it until half way through! So I unfortunately missed the first week, but saw some cool highlights. I did finish up the second week.

Some of the topics covered included Pinterest for business, how to stay encouraged, and the wait for repeat customers. Here are some of the biggest things I've taken from the videos:

  • Use social media as a way to be genuine. I started a blog to keep my clients up to date. But it should be so much more than that. I should use every platform to share my love of education and teaching to communities for the glory of Christ. Without that very real relationship between my clients, my friends, my parents, my PEOPLE, my business cannot prosper!
  • Knowing that as a creative soul, I'm not alone in trying to be practical and realistic. Christine Kane really said everything I needed to hear about making money when that isn't the REAL goal of my business. Check out Christine's website! She was definitely my biggest inspiration during the conference
  • Learning how to say "No". It is a struggle to say "no", especially to my students. I have learned to say "no" without being mean and without lying. I do have a busy schedule but it cannot be my only excuse. My God-given duty is to be my husband's helper, so sometimes I need to clean my house, sometimes I need to spend time with my dog, sometimes I need time for ME. And that is okay! I can't be successful in business if I am not excited about what I am doing in business.
  • My ambitions of someday having a team of people that bring my tutoring business to a larger scale doesn't seem as unrealistic anymore. I've only been in business for just over a year and it may take 50 years but if the Lord is willing, I will be obedient

What a great conference. I really wish I had kicked myself in the butt and started the conference at the beginning! Next year!! Can't wait to keep up with the creative ideas and the business adventures! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Summer Cool Down

Guess what my favorite season is! Guess! I'll give you four chances!

You're right! It is SUMMER!!
Yes, spring has only just begun to sprung, but time to think ahead!
I am a California girl and just thinking about summer makes me soo excited! I know I'm not in SoCal anymore and I know Georgia summers are a slap of hot and humid, I know all of that! But I LOVE summer!

However, the one thing that is not so hot during summer is the tutoring business. Kids are out of school, families are on vacation, and seriously, who wants to listen to someone explain the Pythagorean Theorem AGAIN! That's why I've learned to plan ahead.

Last summer, business was good. I had a few students, enjoyed my days, got some relaxing time and buckled down for the school year. But this year, after exceeding my 5 year plan in 1 year (woop woop!), I gotta make sure I keep up with this running business! So here is what I've learned in my first couple years as a professional tutor:

This cover page and others are for sale on my TpT account :)

1. Keep parents involved! Find out vacation dates, summer sport leagues, etc. When you show interest in helping their student continue learning the more likely they will book you again. It is for the benefit of the student to keep education on the mind (even just once every couple of weeks helps to keep kids more organized).

2. Summer advancement is a great opportunity to connect a hobby to school. I usually tutor math and science, but last summer I tutored a girl in Spanish. We had so much fun. She is just as zany and fun as I am--we even had a hilarious summer project. She made a music video parody in Spanish! We had so much fun rapping and singing that we didn't even need to review verb tenses for her first couple tests in fall. (I told her I mentioned our song in this blog. She started singing HER lyrics in SPANISH word for word! This was yesterday. She wrote the song 9 months ago. G-Iron is one proud tutor!)

3. Tutoring in groups has expanded my business! I tutor four best friends during the school year and I have already booked a fifth for summer. These kids spend so much time together at each others' houses that it makes sense for me to drive to only one location and parents don't have to worry about driving their student to a session. This is also a great idea for college students! Those cram "semesters" can easily become an 8 person study group with you as the instructor! Talk to professors and campus groups and see what you can do!

4. Reset your school year. This allows parents to seriously consider their children's education needs during this VERY long break. We all know we forget a majority of what we learn over summer, is this a risk your student is willing to take? What about college entry exams, SATs, resume building? What extra subjects will your student need help in? All of these skills need a tutor, and what better time to plan and revamp than summer?

5. Book your wait-listed students. I know I have multiple students that I never see because my schedule is so packed and I am yet to clone myself successfully. Make these precious students a priority now that you aren't restricted by 3pm-8pm. The thanks I have received from parents for booking their students during the summer is so gratifying that I can only thank Christ for His blessing of a booked schedule! You have the time, so use it!

BONUS! 6. Tell your students you are available during summer! One thing I hear SO often during spring is "You take summer off, right?" No! I am here for YOU! Tell them your summer hours and let them KNOW you are willing to work and keep pushing on! Parents assume you are on a teacher's schedule, so they may never even ask or mention summer. So bring it up yourself!

Enjoy a busy summer my fellow educators! Start booking now and your income will start to be consistent year-round! And don't forget to schedule in some fun barbecues, beach days, and hotdog eating contests! Can't wait for summer!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I am a Georgia Blogger!

Hi everyone!

I'm just linking up with "Fifth in the Middle"! What a fun website! She currently has a freebie on her site which is EXACTLY what I needed!

Fifth in the Middle

I tutor a few upper elementary grades in language arts. Reading comprehension always seems to be a struggle for a few of them, so having these texts is helpful! So I'll have to come back and let everyone know how my kids are using the material :)

There is also a sister link on there with another text to get your hands on! So check that out too :)

With that, I am out like a light. (I don't know why I typed that, it's just what is coming out of brain right now haha). So with a shout out to my fellow Georgia Bloggers, I'm off to tutor one of my hardest working students for the CRCT coming up in ONE WEEK!!!! EEK!

Catch ya'll on the flippity flop!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jam Session

"Monday Monday gettin' down on Monday! Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekdays..."
I'm a master parody writer if you couldn't tell... Check it out for some laughs at my youtube channel: G-Iron Science HERE.

I really enjoy music. I started writing parodies for fun in high school. I am no Weird Al or some talented musician (especially in the singing department haha), but it is very relaxing. I'll grab an old textbook, open Word, and find a fun song.

I haven't written a parody in a while, but something I did have is a jam session over the weekend! I may be a California girl from El Salvador, but I love me some good ol' bluegrass gospel!

My friend Caitlin and I have a standing date every other week to play some good ol' gospel songs together! She plays the guitar and I play the 5-string banjo (I also have a guitar I am trying to play). We were caught jamming at church after service by our pastor's wife.

Turned out we were wearing the exact same sweater! We're already coordinating costumes haha
My goal is to write original science songs someday. I am not much of a music writer, so until then parodies will have to do! If you think of any good song ideas or songs that are not originally vulgar or distasteful, let me know! I haven't written a song in about a year!

Here are some of my videos currently up on youtube if you want to check them out!

*I have changed my standard for the songs that I parody. Some of the songs I have up were chosen because they are fun and upbeat, but I do not condone some of the original lyrics nor the actions of the artists*

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 Tips for Going Pro

With graduation getting close and plans for the future looming, a nice way to make some cash on the side is through tutoring.
That's how I started before I gave into God's call to plunge head first and make this my career.

Whether you need more income in between jobs or you're ready to dive in deep; here are some tips before you make that final decision.

5. Be committed.
Whether you are tutoring once a month, once a week, once a day, or 8 times a day, you HAVE to be committed! Tutoring will not come easy--especially trying to reach that first client. It's going to take time to create posters, a website, a listing, calling friends, networking with schools, talking to parents, etc. And the first fruits may not be the most rewarding. But if you're in it for the long haul, your commitment to finding clients and keeping them will prevail.

4. Be professional.
It was not a coincidence that God led me to get my Masters in Teacher Education before making me a tutor. You are the lucky teacher that gets a classroom of one! But don't let a lack of administration breathing down your back weaken you! Your middle school students may not care that you're wearing sweatpants, but their parents will. Professional attire, just like any business would expect, is necessary to sell yourself as a serious candidate. Also, be aware of WHO you are tutoring. Some of my college-aged students (with whom I now consider friends) are comfortable with me wearing sneakers because I just came from the gym. But I would never show up like that to tutor my 4th grade students. A relaxed dress is something that you earn with a FEW of your students, not all.

3. Be transparent.
No one likes a crook. Tutors can easily take advantage of their clients by over charging them, creating rules on the spot, and never delivering a promised session. Show your clients your policy up front. Talk about common issues like cancellations, group sessions, and price changes. If you forget, then don't hold them accountable (unless they agreed to your changing policies in writing beforehand). One of my students cancelled late last week. It was his second session and I did not have a chance to show his mom my policy yet. So what did I do? I didn't charge him, informed his mom of my policy, and verified our next session. Transparency keeps your students coming back.

2. Be informed.
Just because you know how do an algebra problem, does not mean that you can properly tutor it. Always be reading and learning about differentiated learning techniques as well as brushing up on your subject materials. Don't stop there. Learn about testing strategies, diagnosis software, and other programs that will help your students succeed. And very importantly, know what your children are learning! Is it Common Core? Is it state standards? Special private school material? What does the parent want out of tutoring? Have you read the course syllabus? This is all essential information! Because when they succeed, you succeed.

1. Be honest.
This one seems obvious but it can be hard to do. One of my college students just finished an evolution exam and I had no idea how to do a problem. It is hard to admit that you don't know how to do something when you are getting paid to know that material. It is better to be honest than teach something incorrectly. The same is true for being late, for cancellations, and why you won't discuss a certain topic with a student. I can honestly say that my willingness to let go of my pride and be sincere with my students is what has earned me my reputation. The Lord is blessing this work for a reason.

Above all, love your students. They may not always listen or be willing to try, but show them that you are in their corner, cheering them on. Sometimes all a struggling student needs to succeed is to see that someone truly cares for them.

That is what a professional tutor does.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Coffee Jitters

The Coffee Jitters.

That is what I usually end up when there is a cancellation in tutoring. For my first student of the day, I usually arrive 30-60 minutes early if I am meeting at a coffee joint. I like to get some work done now that I am creating clip-art like crazy for a fellow teacher who shall remain nameless... Jennifer!

Today, I arrived about one and half hours early to make sure I snagged a table for one of my students since last week we almost couldn't meet because it was packed! Today, I've been working on making this blog a little more presentable, as well as getting my Spring Newsletter ready! If you haven't read it yet, check it out HERE! My main goal has been to update people on my tutoring policy. As my business expands, I need to refine and refresh some things that just don't work anymore. My current Late & Cancellation policy has been around for more than a year but I don't often have to use it because my wonderful students and parents are really good about keeping in touch. But just in case you need a refresher, here is my policy:

I have had so many cancellations this week with an almost perfect record of being informed at least 2 hours before, that it seems almost moot to mention this. But please keep this information in mind! I try to practice what I preach. So I will also let you know at least 2 hours before our session if I need to cancel, but emergencies can happen--and I will totally work with you in those cases!

But why do I end up with the jitters then? Because my ADHD and caffeine don't have an outlet! So please know that if you cancel our session, I can't wave my arms, draw diagrams, or dance sitting alone at a table without looking like a maniac! At least with a student in front of me, it's a little more acceptable, haha!

Okay, time to go, only my leg is shaking now haha.