Whether you’re a parent wondering what the difference is between a Homeschooling tutor and a school teacher, or you yourself are looking to find out what it takes to be the best tutor you can be, this interview with one of Minerva’s top tutors will shine a light on what it’s all about.
Homeschooling’s star is on the rise. A lot of the best tutors in the country are making the switch from after-school tutoring jobs to something lasting and more meaningful. In this interview, expert tutor, Jack, explains what it’s like, and how he explains to parents the key differences between traditional school teaching and the new frontiers of homeschooling.
Hi Jack, how did you become a tutor with Minerva?
I started out helping local families navigate the 11+ and was passed around family to family by word of mouth. I found myself really enjoying it, so when those jobs came to their natural conclusion, I started looking for an agency to facilitate further work, found Minerva, and haven’t looked back.
What’s your day-to-day like as a Homeschooling tutor?
Homeschooling is great because it allows me to make full use of my day. Previously, I’d essentially have a free daytime and then spend my evenings travelling around London, tutoring students after school. With homeschooling, my day starts at 9AM, and I spend three or so hours with a student, teaching a number of subjects, before heading somewhere else to do the same again, with afternoons and evenings spent focusing on the regular post-school tutoring work if I want. On a normal day I’ll teach three or four different students, and I’ll see those same students at the same time each week, which gives me a reliable routine.
What’s the difference for you between being a school teacher and a private tutor?
The headline difference is that I’m only ever working with a single student at a time, as opposed to a class of twenty or thirty. This puts me at a tremendous advantage: I can tailor the material we need to cover directly for the interests of the student, and we can go at a pace that suits them, too. I’m in a much better position to shape the educational environment and the education process according to what would best fit that particular individual. Also, there’s much more scope to build up a relationship, a rapport, a particular and helpful dynamic with each student because you’re working one-to-one. Plus, there’s no element of crowd control, so there’s more time to focus on the teaching at hand. It’s a collaborative process fundamentally, which means that there’s more of an investment on both sides of the relationship.
What experiences have you had of private tuition and homeschooling working better for a student than traditional schooling?
Private tuition and homeschooling works amazingly for those who haven’t quite fit within mainstream education for various reasons – from disciplinary issues through to mental health problems – and so I’ve been able to step in, homeschool them and deliver the syllabus in a way that was more amenable to their particular needs.
A couple of particulars spring to mind: Thomas, who left school because of behavioural issues, and failed to engage with his English syllabus because he felt so straight-jacketed by the institution of school. Working together across the year we were able to get him through his GCSE material and on to a vocational course, and progress in a way that was meaningful to him. At the beginning of our time together he refused to engage with reading and writing, so to go from that point to seeing him actually applying to this vocational course was really gratifying.
Another student was Andrew, who, for a similar reason, felt left behind at school, and didn’t feel he was getting the support he needed. I stepped in and delivered his GCSE syllabus for him. This was four years ago, and we’re still working together now: he’s at university doing Film and Screen Media. That’s a job I’m proud of because we managed to jump through the necessary educational hurdles together, and it’s been really pleasing to see his development as a person over those four years too: you get to form proper relationships and help with all aspects of someone’s education, which ends up affecting their whole character and confidence, too. I think this long-term relationship has informed and developed my teaching style, too: Andrew’s taught me how to be the best tutor I can be.
What’s it like working with Minerva?
There are huge benefits to working with an agency that’s set up like Minverva is, compared to larger agencies in the industry. Fundamentally, you have a far greater level of day-to-day support in regards to dealing with clients – as a Pro Tutor I’ll be dealing with a dozen clients at any one time, so outsourcing the administrative side to this is tremendously beneficial, as it means I can focus on teaching.
The smaller size of the team is lovely, because as well as that administrative support you feel a level of personal investment that comes from being a Pro Tutor – at no point do you feel like you’re a number, or just part of a big spreadsheet of names. I really feel like I’m part of a crack team of some of the best tutors around. There’s also a particular care given at Minerva to pairing tutor and student, which means that right from the get-go the tutoring dynamic is going to be maximally beneficial.
What do you see for yourself in the future?
Ultimately I’d like to keep growing as an educator, and I think Minerva is doing lots of very exciting things at the moment within the education sector, so I feel fortunate that I’m in a position where hopefully I can be a part of that journey and contribute and continue to keep making a difference. People talk of teaching as being a tremendously rewarding role, and I think the same is certainly true of tutoring. You’re forming connections with students that are very meaningful.
But in the meantime, it never feels like a job: every day I’m talking about and teaching things that are well within my interest set – looking at philosophy, history, literature – in a way that’s challenging and rewarding for me, too, because I have to think about these big ideas in a way that’s easy for a student to metabolise.
*names have been changed for privacy reasons
We hope this interview with Jack has answered some of the questions you might have had regarding what it’s like to be a homeschooling tutor – and to employ one. Please get in touch if you have any more questions.