First a little about me
My name is Taha and I am one of Tutorfair's top Maths and Science Tutors. I teach students from Year 5 at primary school upto undergraduate degree level and occasionaly offer post graduate proof reading services (if the field of study is closely linked with my own). I also teach mature students who are trying to get back into education. I specialise in teaching Science and Maths but I also tutor entrance exams such as UKCAT and BMAT because when I am not tutoring, I am a 4th year Medical Student.
Why am I qualified to write about online tution?
I have 4 years of tutoring experiece and have logged over 500 hours of lessons. I have been registered with Tutorfair for a year at the time of writing and have done over 300 additional hours with their clients alone. Approximately 40% of the teaching I offer is online via Skype which corresponds to over 20 different clients - many of whom have written reviews for me on this website. All of the feedback I have received is positive and my clients are always happy with the outcome.
How does it work?
In many ways, online tution is very similar to inperson tution. Both are one-to-one and face-to-face. Since all lessons are paid for in advance via the Tutorfair website, tutors do not accept cash payments for lessons and this means it is easy to track payments to aviod confusion. After you book a date and time for the lesson, I make sure we exchange contact details including phone numbers, email addresses and Skype IDs. Since most of my students are doing their GCSEs or A-Levels, I like to make sure that I have details for the student and the parent paying for the lessons. I have found this to be the most helpful strategy as it means students can quickly and conviently message me about upcoming assessments and any questions they may be struggling with in their homework.
For all my online students, I am able to offer a much more flexible service.
Example 1: I have previously done regular lessons at 6AM for a mature student in his early thirties who was reattempting his Maths GSCE. This is because he worked 6 days a week as a contractor and was not available at any other time. Although we both lived in London, the house he was renting was almost an hour away and was not feasable to access on public transport that early in the moring. Since the lessons were online, we bypassed this problem
Example 2: Many of my A-Level tutees are prospective medical students and are busy with the usual extra-cirricular activities such as sports or drama and music after school and then volunteering in the evening. This means arranging time for tution can be a challenge. If the lessons are online then they can take place much later in the day at the students' convenience. This year, one of my students wanted to have lessons after choir practice which finished at 8PM. She would come home, have dinner and then plough through 2 hours of intensive Maths tution from 9:30-11:30PM. This was possible because the very early and very late hours are reserved exclusively for online lessons as it is often not appropriate to have home lessons at this time.
Example 3: When I doing my GCSEs, I became interested in studying sign language as a hobbie. My parents did their best to encourage my interests but they were struggling to find me a good tutor for this due to it's esoteric nature. There did not seem to be any sign language teachers in our local area but one day my mum looked online and found one in Newcastle. We lived in Essex which meant it was not psoble to either of us to commute this distance. Because of online tution, we were able to find the right tutor for me! Similarly, I have now tutored UKCAT (UK medicine entrance exam) for students in USA who wanted to study medicine in UK and could not tutors in US familiar with this exam. Online tution means you have access to a much greater number or tutors.
Online lessons are more flexible as they can be cancelled by the students at shorter notice and rescheduled more easily as there are often more slots available. Finally, since the tutors save time commuting, this is passed on to the clients with lessons that are often 5-10% cheaper.
Online tution has higher initial costs. 4 years ago when I started tutoring, I noticed my computer was not able to keep up with the demands so I invested in a more expensive model with a faster processor and more RAM. I also bought a HD webcam and a studio microphone because I wanted to make sure that my students could hear and see me clearly. I even upgraded my Wifi to fibre optic so that there would be no connectivity problems.
You have to be much more organised for online tution. An hour before every lesson, I make sure everything is in a good working condition including the internet, webcam and microphone etc. I make sure I have emailed all the necessary material to the students before the lesson eg worksheets, notes or my annotations of their coursework. Similarly, I expect students to do the same and send me the things they would like to cover during the lesson eg a piece of homework from their school teacher that they are strugling with.
Technology however, has made this much easier. Previously, I would use my scanner to send documents to students; but now, I am more than happy for them to send me their work by taking pictures on WhatsApp. This is much more convienent for them so they are more likely to do it.
You often don't get a feel for someone until you have met them in person. And since tutors are going to be spending one-to-one time with your children, it's important to get the right tutor. I like Tutorfair becuase all of the tutors are DBS checked and many go through an extra verification process - look for the blue tick in the corner of their profile.
In this resource I am not enouraging or discoursging online tution. I am merely providing information about a topic some people may not know much about. It is important to note that online tution doesn't work for everyone. Previously, I have a student with special educational needs who was struggling to stay focussed during the lessons. I wasn't sure what to do so I recommended another tutor who I thought may be able to help. But the parents insisted on keeping me as a tutor as they felt I had built up a rapport with their son which was previously very challenging for other tutors. I decided to stop online tution and provide home tution instead. I also decreased the length of the lessons to 45 minutes which proved to be much more palatable for him. This example illustrates that different people have different learning needs and one thing often isn't suitable for everyone. One tutor or one teaching method will not be appropriate for every student.
If you are going to engage in online tution, both the tutor and the student have to be very organised. It is very frustrating if the lesson has started and students have gone to find their homeowrk or their notebook or calculator. However, in many ways, this also applies to home tution.
If you have any questions about what I have written, don't hesitate to send me a message.
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