We've had an amazing 2015 here at Tutorfair thanks to our fantastic community of tutors and students! We asked a few of our favourites to share their adventures with us. Here, James tells us about the importance of sharing tutoring resources!
Tutor gathering can be a tricky business. We are, by nature, solitary creatures. But one wind swept morning in November, 11 plus specialists travelled from far and wide to converge on the Tutorfair offices. For those that hibernate during the day this was to be an especially gruelling affair.
Fuelled by coffee and inspired by Edd’s roundtable room arrangement, cleverly focussing our creative synergy into a focal point, we began to probe the deepest mysteries of the 11 plus universe. After finding out each other’s names and where we all live, of course.
The 11 plus can be a tricky beast. Tutors and parents alike are swamped by literally tons of exam guides, websites and ‘motivational’ tips. How to discern the truly useful from the mere padding? Unhealthy amounts of coffee aren’t essential for solving this conundrum, but it helps. Another issue is the sheer diversity of tests. Many a tutor, expecting all entrance exams to be similar, has been quickly humbled by a nifty Google search. This reveals that exam papers from one school often have no resemblance to another. Moreover, the likes of Westminster and St Paul’s have entrance exams so fiendish they may as well be scribed in Egyptian hieroglyphs. And even if you could read Egyptian, you still couldn’t do them.
However, help was at hand. Drawing on the expertise of all those gathered, we managed to distil a nifty set of tricks, tactics and resources. Rob L surely deserves a prize for understatement of the year. He said he had ‘some’ tutoring tips to offer, before whipping out his fantastically written and newly published guide to English 11 plus comprehension. Not to be outdone, others drew on role playing and fancy dress techniques to elicit calm and composure from their students. Although this sounds like an excuse to inappropriately channel misplaced thespian energies of our youth, it can work wonders for reassuring a nervous pupil. The dreaded 11 plus interview is a ticking time bomb for many a pupil. However this was rapidly defused when we found out that between us, the tutors in the room have records of hundreds of past interview questions across all the top schools. Many a desperate parent has cajoled me with demands for such information, assuring me that ‘no price is too high to pay’. So it was amazing to find it here, just floating around in the collective ether at Tutorfair HQ.
If there was agreement on anything, it’s that there is no ‘magic bullet’ for successful 11 plus tutoring. If there were, the Tutorfair offices would boast diamond studded coffee mugs and platinum door handles. Instead there are a myriad of approaches that can and should be used, depending on the student’s needs. And putting the student first should always be at the heart of successful tutoring.
If you’re a tutor and want to get involved in an upcoming meeting to share insights, please get in touch. We really can work together to make tutoring better for everyone. I for one would like the diamond studded coffee mug to be the standard drinking implement at Tutorfair HQ. After all, what’s wrong with a bit of bling?