I’ve been working as a tutor for TutorFair for around five years and recently completed teacher training. I was lucky enough to be employed, after a rewarding PGCE year in London state schools, by Wellington College – one of the UK’s leading independent boarding schools. My wife and I had to relocate to Crowthorne, which was exciting in one sense as we were beginning a new rural chapter in an idyllic setting within a rich academic community. In another, it felt a shame as I would no longer be able to tutor in person. I loved my time as an ‘on call’ tutor in London and I was apprehensive about the effectiveness of online communication as a means through which to tutor English lessons – how would I build rapport? How would I use educational resources imaginatively and interactively? Would it feel too clinical, impersonal, detached?
I have since found online tutoring to be equally – if not more – effective. As far as building a warm and constructive relationship with tutees go, I feel there’s an advantage to having the session ‘broadcast’ as it can lend a more performative element to the job. While there can be no substitute for hard work to progress tutees, being able to make your tutees laugh can be transformative as far as learning goes, and the fact the session is framed by a face in close up does appeal to tutees and tutors (like this one) who aren’t strangers to an opportunity for judiciously timed silliness.
There has been no change to the effective use of resources; in fact, it’s more straightforward if the internet is a mid-session click away. I can ask parents to email me teacher instructions well ahead of the session if there’s specific school-work that they would like covered, but I can also email specific texts or exercises with a week’s (or more) notice to mums and dads so tutees have hard copies ready well in advance, should this be necessary. Saying this, printing can be done away with entirely if the online session is run through Google Hangouts – the screen can be shared, meaning homework or resources can be worked on collaboratively without recourse to hard copies.
Online tuition suits busy parents better as their time commitment is far reduced as disruption to family life is minimised. There’s no letting me in, finding a space, letting me out. I can email feedback and take up only as much time as the session demands. There’s also peace of mind as parents can see exactly how many minutes I’ve spent online. The session is pure tuition, small talk is reduced and, as a consequence, there is value for money. Of course none of this precludes lengthy conversations with parents if they are needed.
Another major bonus of this form of tutoring is that it’s possible to be anywhere in the world and still receive tuition. I have worked with many families who value consistency and routine in their child’s education and who prefer to keep tuition ticking over during longer holidays or where it’s necessary to re-locate for a time. I worked with an American family who were on a tour of the world together for a year, they kept up tuition in creative writing with their two boys throughout the trip. Needless to say I was often struck by the curious locations the boys Skyped from – jungles, beaches and – perhaps most unusually – the Arctic circle!
If you’re considering online tuition, but are yet undecided, I would be happy to chat to you about the process. What an age to be alive!
Jim R is one of our top English tutors. As well as being a fantastic private tutor, Jim is a fully qualified teacher at Wellington College, one of the UK's leading public schools. Interested in booking a lesson with Jim? Click here to visit his Tutorfair profile and find out more!