You Should Be A Tutor: Here’s How to Do It

Tutoring is a great part-time job, but it also means the responsibility of helping someone else learn. Here's how to do it right.

Aristotle believed that those who educate children should be honored even more than those who produce them.

As a tutor, it may be a stretch to put yourself on a pedestal above parents, but you will be honored by getting paid well for a job that offers flexibility and valuable experience.

Just as tutoring may be the perfect part-time job for you, you need to be the perfect candidate for a tutoring job. This requires that you have energy and an academic mindset. You also should be able connect easily to students or peers by viewing a subject through their eyes.

Is it better to go through an agency or go solo?

If you are new to a community, going through an agency will give you a backbone of resources and clients. Using a company name like Sylvan Learning Center, Kumon, or Kaplan will give you immediate validation as a tutor, and you can use the agency’s name recognition to build a client list. Not only will you gain legitimacy through an agency, but it also will often provide services that put you in touch with students, taking away the burden of looking for clients. However, working with the agency means giving a percentage of the money you earn to the company for its services.

If you are familiar with the community, then you can go straight to the source for opportunities and build a client list by calling schools, teachers, and parents. While it will be up to you to prove you are a good tutor and find your own clients, you will be more in control of your schedule and the price you charge.

You can also set yourself up with a profile on online tutoring sites like Wyzant or Tutor.com. These sites are similar to agencies because they help you connect with clients and charge you for their services, but they provide more liberty when it comes to setting your price and schedule.

What preparation do you need to tutor a certain subject?

Some agencies, sites, or clients may require proof of your knowledge in a specific topic. This can range from writing samples to standardized test scores to online quizzes.

As a tutor, your job will be to strengthen students’ skills so that they have the tools to get through a subject on their own. Yes, you should certainly be familiar with the subject that your student is working on, but more importantly, you should be able to view the subject through your student’s eyes to be able to pinpoint areas of difficulty.

How should you structure a tutoring session, and what can you expect?

At the start of the tutoring session, you should go over anything your student has returned and ask what she is currently working on. Once you get a sense of points of difficulty, you can dive in and spend the rest of the session working on specifics.

As a tutor, you are examining how learning occurs on an individual level. Other than a paycheck, you will also find insight on how to identify your own academic trouble spots and gain perspective on how you operate as a student.

Tutoring Advice From An Expert

Here are seven important tutoring tips from Katie Takayanagi, an academic and enrichment tutor in New York City:

Draw from your own experience

Think about the best teachers you have had, particularly in subjects that did not come easily to you. What methods did the teacher use to help you through difficult areas? What was it about her attitude and approach that helped you build confidence in that subject area?

Envision explaining the same idea in a few different ways

We all learn differently; prepare various ways to explain one concept, and then follow the student’s lead on which path to take.

Communicate with parents

Parents not only give you a sense of where your student is having trouble but can also help you understand which is the best way to reach her. You should show parents what you are doing, so they can reinforce those methods outside the tutoring session.

Get feedback

Ask your student or her parents to share assignments that were returned by the teacher. This will give you a sense of what the teacher is looking for and what areas to target.

Reinforce takeaways

Your job as a tutor is not only to help a student through a problem but also to be sure that she can understand larger concepts on her own. At the beginning and end of a session, emphasize the tools that you used to get the student from Point A to Point B.

Keep your student in the driver’s seat

Have the student do as much of an assignment on her own without your interference. If she needs additional help, focus on guiding her toward the solution instead of solving the problem for her.

Have patience

Just continue to supply electricity to the circuit and eventually the student will figure out how to turn on the lights.

Sources:

K. Takayanagi, personal communication, October 5, 2014.

Sloane, C. Why tutoring is one of the best part-time jobs for students. (2012). Retrieved from USA Today.

Cesca, C. Top tips on how to get a tutoring job and what it can do for you. (2013). Retrieved from CengageBrain.com.

Cronenweth, S. Summer Tutoring Jobs: Five Suggestions for Where to Look. (2012). Retrieved from Socrato.

O’Briant, E.Q. Be a Great Tutor. (2011). Retrieved from tutoring-expert.com.

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