Regardless of how long you have been working as a private tutor or what kind of private tuition you offer, even the best of us occasionally make mistakes. Of course, the biggest problem private London tutors face is the way in which even the slightest mistake can be enormously costly, having a detrimental impact on future recommendations and generally putting a crimp in overall performance. As such, it’s a pretty prime example of an industry where flawlessness really must be the target for each and every working professional, despite the fact that in a technical sense there’s really no such thing as flawlessness.
Mistakes tend to happen more frequently in the instances of those that are new to the industry, but the kind of complacency that comes with long-term experience can also lead a veteran tutor down entirely the wrong path.
So in order to help those who would ideally like to steer their careers more towards flawlessness than failure, what are the most common areas in which even the most experienced private tutors often get it very wrong?
Becoming Overly Friendly
First and foremost, there is a very fine yet incredibly significant line between getting on with your students extremely well and becoming overly friendly with them. The simple fact of the matter is that it is your job to nurture the learning of your students, support the development, introduce them to relevant subject areas and identify/rectify mistakes. The problem being that every single one of these requirements becomes rather hazy to say the least the moment you cross the line into friendship territory. And as it’s a very easy line to cross, it is crossed surprisingly often.
Being Too Strict
Unsurprisingly, in their efforts to avoid becoming too friendly with their students there will always be a great many private tutors that take things a step too far in the opposite direction. Or in other words, they become far too strict and end up building an unfortunate barrier between them and their students. It’s a case of knowing where to draw the line between authority/respect and just being downright mean. If you aren’t seen as approachable, you’ll never be a good private tutor.
When a student seems to be making fantastic progress and improvements in many key areas, it can be natural to interpret their smaller mistakes and shortcomings as insignificant. Unfortunately, to get into the habit of overlooking mistakes even at the most remedial of levels represents something of a slippery slope to say the least. It is only by highlighting and correcting mistakes that progress can be made – to overlook mistakes therefore is to actively hinder progress.
Taking Things Personally
When and where a student appears to have completely ignored what you told them, disobeyed the instructions you gave them or generally taken a distaste to the way you handle your sessions, it’s difficult not to take it personally. After all, you and you alone came up with the approach you use, so you have no one else to blame. In reality however, this is all a standard part of teaching at all levels and in all settings – taking things personally and questioning yourself only ever breeds bad decision making. Learn from your mistakes as and when you make them, and avoid taking things too personally.
Working Too Hard/Often
When running your own business, it’s critically important to remember that just because you technically can work 100 hours per week doesn’t mean you have to. Whether it’s a case of looking to build experience, and as much money as possible or generally indulge your genuine passion for helping kids develop, overdoing it will only ever result in a serious impact to your performance…and certainly not a positive one. Pen a schedule and stick to it like glue.
Setting Stiff Targets
While it’s important to work towards goals and targets, it’s just as important not to make such targets unrealistic or inflexible. When a target goal is not reached, it does not immediately constitute a failure, simply a delay of the result you intend to eventually bring about.
Not Asking for Help
Last but not least, there’s a lot of pride to be taken from taking full control of the sessions you provide and making a real difference in the lives of the students you work with. Nevertheless, there’s absolutely nothing to gain from deliberately avoiding asking for help from the parents of your students when and where it may be necessary. Regardless of who you are, what you do or how well you do it, chances are you will never have the kind of influence as his/her parents. So regardless of what it is you need a little help with, never be afraid to turn to the parents with your requests.