Towards a Successful Home Tutoring Experience
With so many children and adults in all different kinds of schools today, it would seem like tutoring could be a successful business venture for a lot of adults – college post-graduates, retired teachers, you name it. It would not simply be successful, but it would be one of those rewarding and satisfying jobs that also happen to be successful in addition. Yet the tutors I have met and talked with about this talk about walking a bit of a tightrope, and say that business is not very constant, and that there are obstacles to success.
Second, as regards internet tutoring, the general trend unfortunately seems to be bank account scams and “pay to play” commercial websites. By advertising myself or seeking work as a tutor online, I am opening myself to a lot of spam with requests for receiving money from the United Kingdom and things like this. I have received literally a dozen of these spam e-mails allegedly from the United Kingdom, all with yahoo e-mail addresses, by the way. In the commercial tutoring market, there are literally hundreds of “tutor.com”-type websites asking you to pay a fee for sub-par services – you never hear from students, or if you do it is very few, not enough for a business. Even though the demand should be high, with so many people in school, the actual demand is low. The idea of tutoring just has not caught on. People probably end up going to a big brother or parent, or dropping the class.
If individuals are going to succeed at being tutors, they need a consistent supply of students who are willing to pay their rates, whether this is at home or online. Furthermore, if tutors go online, they are going to have to use their own devices to come up with technology that does it for them. Luckily, there are free tools out there. General Electric has a free whiteboard that two people can view and write on at the same time; it is located at http://www.imaginationcubed.com/Imagine. It is called “Imagination Cubed.”
A whiteboard can be really helpful for math and science ideas especially.
In addition to a place to write, a tutor might want to offer chat communication. Luckily, all she has to do is get a free Google or Yahoo! e-mail account, and get the student to do the same thing. So they can meet up at Imagination Cubed and open Yahoo! chat on the side, and work away. Finally, for an extra 20 – 40 dollars, the tutor can buy a headset with a microphone and a headset at Best Buy or Wal-Mart. All the student needs is a headset. Then they can use Yahoo! With Voice Chat Beta, and the tutor can talk and the student can hear her. If the student invests 20 – 40 dollars himself, then he can speak back to the tutor.
I have tutored both in other people’s homes and in my own apartment. There are a couple of things I have picked up from this. Number one, Very Important! – The tutor’s house is only for adult students. It’s too risky today to work with a minor in your home, period. That’s my opinion, and I have never done otherwise. Unfortunately, the Mary Kay Letourneaus and a small handful of other teachers have made a bad name for the vast majority of teachers by acting unprofessionally with students. So a good rule of thumb is to tutor a minor either at their house, with a parent around, or in a public place like a public library, ideally in a designated “tutoring area.” That said, it is possible and practical to give an adult student directions to your home and tutor them there. There you have the comfort of access to your own computer and your own books to use.
Finding adult students is the tricky part. I have advertised myself on Craigslist.net with some success. (I also got the spam I mentioned that way.) Craigslist.net is good for getting started, but it needs to become word-of-mouth in your community, that you are a tutor and you charge such-and-such, and you are good and helpful. If not, you will always be spending your time advertising. You have to develop repeat business and a word-of-mouth reputation. One thing you might try is talking to teachers you know at colleges, and getting them to pass your contact information on to students or put up a sign for you on their campus. My town has two universities and a community college, so there is potentially a nice market there.
Tutoring can be very rewarding, and a lot of fun too. You get to “hit the books” in different subjects, and meet interesting people. You may become friends with some of the people you tutor. Tutoring minors is a little more complex, since there are liability issues. And you need to tutor them in a public place, and keep their parent(s)/guardian(s) very involved. Tutoring online is a good opportunity, if you can find the clients, and if you can put together a good system for chatting and writing down facts on the screen and such. So give it a try and have fun!