The new school year has finally begun and whether you’re tutoring online or in-person the start of the year is always an exciting and apprehensive time. The 2021-2022 academic year is going to prove a little more challenging due to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re returning to tutoring in-person, make sure you familiarize yourself with the Covid health and safety procedures for your area. Across the U.S., schools are continuing to implement standard COVID-19 safety precautions, including wearing masks, social distancing, hand-washing and disinfecting surfaces.
As a tutor, you will have to decide whether to organize online lessons or in-person sessions, or a mixture of the two. Easing back into tutoring might feel strange given the pandemic and the fact that teaching in the classroom has been on hold for quite some time, but we put together a handy back-to-school checklist for tutors starting the new academic year.
Prepare Your Resources and Lessons
Organizing your materials and resources beforehand is essential for effective tutoring. Whether it’s workbooks, textbooks, stationery, or digital resources, ensuring that your teaching materials are in good order is crucial, and it will make finding things easier.
Consider labelling or categorizing resources and materials that correspond to certain subjects, topics, student levels, etc. It’s important to remember that each student is an individual at their own level so you may want to create custom folders dedicated to each student.
If you’re using a tutor management software like Pearl for the first time, make sure you upload your content into the portfolio before the sessions start, so that you can easily share the files with the student, or bring them into the virtual classroom.
And, before scheduling new lessons, you should ensure that you have lesson plans available for each day of the week. Spend some time thinking of new ways to make lessons more fun and dynamic to welcome students back into the classroom.
Organize Your Tutoring Setting
Whether you’re planning on tutoring in-person or online, you’ll need to arrange your teaching space beforehand. If you’re tutoring online, check that your computer, internet connection and headset are all in good working order. It would also be a good idea to organize your desk or classroom space, ensuring that it is free of clutter, and unnecessary objects before you begin your tutoring session. Don’t forget to optimize your seating position and ensure that the lighting is bright.
If you’re tutoring in-person, make sure you choose a suitable classroom, or a space that is spacious and quiet enough. If you have access to a classroom, all the better, as you will have more control over the environment, including the desk and seating arrangements, the furniture, and possibly teaching aids, such as a white board, flipchart, projector, etc.
Pro Tip: If you are teaching online in a new virtual environment, schedule a 15-min introduction session with your student before the first real session. This will let you get to know the student a bit, as well as trouble-shoot any technical difficulties before the first paid session.
Manage Your Time
Managing your time effectively, as a professional tutor, is crucial for success. You need to make sure you have adequate time for lesson and resource preparation, as well as post-session recap and reflection. If you’re tutoring in-person, you should remember to set aside plenty of time to reach the classroom or tutoring location, making allowances for any delays, such as traffic or late trains. It’s a good idea to plan to arrive at least fifteen minutes before your tutoring session is scheduled to begin.
Time management is also essential when it comes to scheduling lessons, as you want to ensure that you arrange a suitable number of lessons to fit your availability and desired income. Most tutors are self-employed and choose their own hours, so it’s an essential skill to be able to manage your time effectively alongside other commitments.
Pro Tip: We recommend using a tutor management platform like Pearl to help you manage your time efficiently and optimize your tutoring schedule. Pearl is flexible to the way you want to schedule your tutoring sessions, and it’s tightly connected to session tracking and billing.
Dress to Impress
Whether you’re tutoring in-person or online, it’s always important to dress appropriately and professionally. Perhaps you’ve gotten used to sweats and flip-flops over the summer, but, as a professional tutor, it’s important to take some time to refresh your wardrobe and spruce up your look. Dressing well is a surefire way to make a good first impression on your new students, and a sharp look will increase your confidence and communicate your value. Of course, you also want to feel comfortable and relaxed in your work attire, so opt for a casual-smart wardrobe that you can wear throughout the day.
Stay Covid Safe
In light of COVID-19, don’t forget to take a mask with you if you’re teaching in-person, and consider carrying a clean, back-up mask stowed in your backpack in case you, or your student, may need it. If you’re tutoring in person, it’s still advised to keep at least 6 feet apart from your student or others to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, even if you’re both wearing a mask. Tutors should also wash their hands regularly with soap and water, or hand sanitizer, as well as encourage students to do the same. You should also ensure that the surfaces in your teaching space are disinfected regularly.
If you develop Covid symptoms, or generally feel unwell, always cancel the tutoring session and inform the student(s) right away.
Due to the pandemic, your students may be experiencing higher-than-usual levels of anxiety and so it’s important to remember to be patient and empathetic with students who may need a bit of extra time easing into the start of the new academic year.
Returning to school isn’t going to be an effortless transition. Both tutors and students are inclined to feel a bit rusty, especially if meeting in-person. Tutors should be prepared to be encouraging and welcoming to students, old and new, to reassure them that teaching can continue in a structured and stimulating way.
Students might be inclined to feel less focused given the upheaval, so take things one step at a time, and be ready to respond to any concerns or questions students may have. Also, some families may decide that it isn’t the right time for their children to be returning to tutoring in-person, so be prepared for students who prefer to receive tutoring remotely.
Heading back to school will involve some challenges post-Covid, but it’s also going to be an exciting time to reconnect with students and to re-energize the classroom space, whether online or in-person. Good luck for the new teaching year!