A help guide for someone thinking of being a tutor
Let us discuss about the competencies required to be a tutor and how to choose tutoring as a profession. If you are thinking of becoming a tutor, you need to know the pros and cons of the profession – so all prospective tutors, do not jump blindly on to the bandwagon.
No pain, No gain
The prime requirement for choosing tutoring as a profession is the love for teaching. Other things like additional income, time etc will find a way if your aspiration to become a teacher is driven by passion. Students seek tutors mainly because some of the learning needs are not fulfilled in the school. So, ask yourself – what is your brand equity? What is your USP? As a tutor, what are the skills that you bring to the table? Only you can answer those questions and no one else.
If the objective of becoming a tutor is solely to earn a few extra bucks, then banish that thought. Your aspiration will be short-lived, so will be your success.
A few questions that you need to ask yourself…
- Am I competent to take tuitions?
- Do I love teaching?
- Can I devote the time and attention that such specialised coaching demands?
- How will I learn from failures?What should the parameters for success be?
- What are the subjects that I can teach?
- In a day, how many hours can I devote for teaching without letting my other work suffer?
- If I have a day-job, can I devote time during the weekends?
- Will I be able to justice to the task at hand?
- What is the criterion for selecting students?
A few illustrative examples…
* Mumbai based Shilpa Ranganath conducts home tuitions in the mornings, noons and evenings. Her husband opts for lunch outside. They have bread-butter for breakfast most of the time, dal-chawal for lunch and an idli-dosa for dinner. Shilpa’s kitchen is very neat as there is hardly any great cooking effort! Shilpa earns a neat and tidy sum at the end of the month but she perhaps has not realised the collateral damage that her vocation has caused to the dietary needs of her family. Shilpa does love teaching, she is popular but with 25 students at her disposal, she is perennially busy and doesn’t have too much time to cook a delectable meal for her family. Sundays are days when they order food from outside as Shilpa needs a break! Shilpa’s greatest strength is that her children are self sufficient when it comes to their own learning needs. Would you like to emulate Shilpa as a tutor?
* Madhavi Parmar is not popular as a tutor as she only selects students who have an average score of more than 85%? The Bangalore-based Madhavi has abandoned her dreams of becoming a tutor as there were not too many takers for her services. Madhavi, who stays in Jalahalli, conveniently forgot that those who scored 85% and above, did not need tuitions in the first place.
* Chandrakala Ramachandran gave up her job in State Bank of Travancore, Chennai to focus on home. A stray thought of becoming a tutor did cross her mind but then her children needed all her attention and she couldn’t do injustice to her children by becoming a tutor. “Lot of people did come to me, but I politely declined the offer” says Chandrakala, matter-of-factly. “My children are my priority now and nothing else matters to me at the moment.”
* Karthik Gupta, working for a private firm, responded to an ad placed in City Jagran plus for a teaching opportunity in New Tippasandra. After driving from his office at Sarjapura Road, he met the lady who had given him time, insisted on meeting him and finally after they agreed on terms and conditions, the lady reverted that she would call him later to finalise the details. Karthik is still waiting for her call and when he dials her number, the lady doesn’t pick up his calls. So, please tutors, approach those who genuinely need your services and not those who make grand claims but do not stick to those claims.
It would be preferable to use websites like Think Vidya to spread the word as these websites have brand equity and such unsolicited, self serving claims will not hold much water.
* Priti Shetty, working as a receptionist in a private firm, agreed to take special classes in Kannada for some of her non-Kannada neighbours. Money was the prime motive for her. But soon enough, the facade came off. She simply could not deliver and she was too tired at the end of a gruelling schedule in the office. Within no time, Priti gave up her aspirations to become a tutor and also strained her relationship with her neighbours.
An encouraging story…
Now this is the stuff legends are made of. Asha Nair, had a fairly impressive record as a school teacher in Mumbai. She also taught in some of the private coaching classes in Mulund, Mumbai. When her only son Sunil got admission to SPJIMR she was thrilled. After completing his MBA in Finance, Sunil worked in SBI Capital for almost three years when he got an opportunity to teach in a MBA college on weekends.
Within no time, Sunil realized that teaching was in his genes. Around the same time, he got married to Vanita Nambiar, another school teacher. Asha’s husband Parameswaran Nair who had just retired from IOCL, smelt an opportunity. He invested his life time’s earnings in buying a 2-storey property and soon enough – “Nair Coaching Classes” commenced operations.
There was a splendid team of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law coaching students and the father-in-law managing all the administration. In a matter of two years, Nair Classes became so popular and Sunil was flooded with opportunities to teach as a visiting faculty, that Nairs took a sensible decision. Sunil chucked his job, entered teaching as a full time profession and today Nair coaching classes is a name to reckon with in Mumbai.
So, readers, what do you think led to the success of Nairs ? Love for teaching with the willingness to work hard, isn’t it ?
- Venture into teaching only if you love teaching.
- Do not let money decide your objective.
- Carefully think through as to how you will go about it.
- What are the subjects that you will teach ?
- How will you publicise your skills and create visibility around your profile ?
- Think through.Decide on the time and location of tuitions.
- Can you travel around and take home tuitions without stressing yourselves?
- What is the student in take that you should look at ?Do you need to prepare notes?
- Involve parents and make them part of your team in making a success of your effort.
- Be courteous, not arrogant.
- If you do not know how much to charge, ask others in the community. Do not charge fees that are exorbitant when you are a beginner. Once you gain a reputation, you can automatically raise your fees, but until then hold guard.
- Do not rush to make money in the beginning ; strive to create a reputation for yourself…a brand that people value.
- Do all that is possible to focus attention on your students in a way that engages them thoroughly.
- Browse through stuff on website, read books about tutoring so that you know how you can build on your strengths even as you consolidate the opportunities.
- Have a clear plan to focus on your weaknesses and overcome the gaps in your teaching abilities.
- Get feedback from parents and encourage them to come to you even if they find it a bit uncomfortable. Tell parents that you won’t consider their questioning as interference.
Never shy away from working hard as a tutor. This will take care of your success and your income as a tutor.
All the best !