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.

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