Annabelle Fee of SmileTutor, a company specializing in home-based tutoring solutions, outlines seven tips to become successful in online tutoring.
7 Tips to Succeed in Online Tutoring
Being an online tutor is a great vocation. It combines helping students achieve their true potential while it simultaneously offers a more flexible lifestyle, allowing you to work from home and at times you choose. However, launching a successful career in online tutoring is not as easy as it might seem.
Online tutoring requires both preparation and dedication: in other words, it asks for a high level of professionalism. If you’d like to work from home in online tutoring, remember these seven tips on how to become a successful online tutor.
1. Take an Online Course Yourself
Before you take on a student, it would be very beneficial for you to take a few classes online. Find a private tutor that specializes in something you’ve always wanted to learn and give it a try. It would be best not to schedule a class in something you already know well because it affects the interaction when both parties have the same level of knowledge in the subject taught.
You need to learn how to give classes to students with either no understanding of the matter, or whose knowledge is far inferior to yours. When choosing a tutor from whom you are going to learn, of course, look for the ones with the best rating, but also take a class with someone whose references are quite poor. You need to see both what you should and shouldn’t do.
2. Be Professional
It is important to understand that even though this is a job done from the comfort of your home, it still requires your best professional behavior. One easy tip for feeling more professional is to dress as if you were tutoring the students at their own house. The clothes not only serve to make an impression on your student or their parents, but also keep your attitude in check.
Similarly, make sure you have a part of a room that you use strictly for work so you wouldn’t associate the place with leisure. The space can be as small as you’d like, but it needs to be able to hold all the materials you will use for classes. Reference books nearby might come in handy even though you won’t use them on a regular basis. The general idea is not to waste your students’ time on you trying to find the necessary materials or a book that is ‘surely somewhere around here’. Finally, make sure your internet connection is solid – it is now your most important tool.
3. Have Extra Material
When a student contacts you, ask what type of help they need. Many students will bring their own homework, textbooks and other materials to tuition, but always make sure you have extra material to engage them, in case their material runs short. You want to make sure you can fulfill the time slot they booked with more than just jokes and small chat.
Take time and make some materials on your own. Try to think what you were attracted to when you first started learning about the subject and give your exercises a fun twist. The more fun your students have with the material, the more they will like your classes.
4. Make It Personal and Interactive
This is actually a continuation of the previous point. When you’re planning your classes, make sure that every class is tailored for the specific needs of each of your students. Every student has their own learning style and it is up to you to recognize it and nurture it. One thing, however, that should be common to all sessions is for them to be interactive.
Allow the student to actively participate both by doing and by asking questions while you guide them and pay full attention to what they are doing. It is important to note that for this type of student-tutor interaction, you must be an expert in your subject. Don’t tutor the subjects with which you are not comfortable and in which you can’t answer students’ creative questions.
5. Use Expressive Body Language
When Skyping with friends, it is very easy to just lie back in your chair and answer the questions they throw at you. In professional tutoring this is unacceptable. Your body language plays a huge part in engaging the students with the material.
Keep your eyes focused on the student and not their surroundings. Keep your posture straight and your body animated (as much as possible in these conditions). If you seem bored, they will also become disengaged. You can only expect as much interest for the material as you yourself show.
6. Be Available
Once you have a base of students interested in getting regular tutoring, make sure you are available at times at which they need help the most. In many cases, those will be at later night hours when they are studying for an exam or finishing their assignments. You might also have students from different time zones.
Respect your own time, but keep in mind that students have their way of functioning and that the best tutors adapt to their students’ biological clock.
7. Start Small, Then Expand
Even though online tutoring might seem like fast cash, don’t immediately book 10 classes a day. Start small so you have enough time to prepare. In the beginning, it might take you longer than you thought, but don’t get discouraged. It gets easier with time.
Ideally, you would also start with lower to medium fees, depending on what you can offer. As you get more practice and receive more and more positive reviews, you can start charging higher fees. Do make sure to ask your students to leave a review; they are essential for attracting new clients.
With these seven little tips, building a successful career as an online tutor should be a realistic goal. The most important idea to get out of this is to keep a professional attitude towards online tutoring. But remember to also bring something of your own into your work because that is what will distinguish you, even in the group of the very best.
Have you worked from home as an online tutor? Are you interested in exploring online tutoring as a virtual career? Share your story when you connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!
SmileTutor is a company that provides home-based online tutoring solutions for students of all academic levels. Headquartered in the Republic of Singapore, the agency specializes in matching students with qualified tutors, personally interviewed by tuition assignment coordinators, to ensure each student receives the tutor that is most suitable for their needs.
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