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Tutors: How we support Education




TUTORING

It's a funny topic: Tutoring.


We all support Education.

We all want what's best for learners.

Yet sometimes there's this stigma or grey area between teachers and tutors where there's no pathway or movement for working together. Why is that?


...there is something wrong about stopping support for students that need more one-on-one support.

I am going to discuss in this blog why online tuition is an effective bridge to support transitional learning between school and the wider world. I am also going to encourage thinking about your own practice and beliefs as a teacher.


Before I begin, I would like to mention that I am just presenting an opportunity to talk about bridging learning. I am not here to rant or undermine any teachers, their practices or any specific subject areas.


Why online tuition is an effective bridge to support transitional learning between school and the wider world



What is tutoring?


So as always let's start with a breakdown of the meaning of tutor, which I retrieved from Merriam-Webster from Tutor Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster (2022):


Tutor:

"To teach or guide usually individually in a special subject or for a particular purpose: COACH"





What I gathered from this definition is that a tutor is someone that coaches a learner through a particular purpose or subject - which I believe is a fair statement. They build skills the way a coach does. Tutors support learning.


They build skills the way a coach does. Tutors support learning.

Co-constructive tutoring practices:

There are many ways to tutor learners. One effective way is through co-constructive practices.

A co-constructive practice is when you focus on building on the learner's prior knowledge and add to it as a process of building knowledge. Building knowledge does not have to stay within the realms of one subject. It is common to take knowledge from many subjects and experiences and then develop connections and layers.





It has been clear since the start of my teaching practice that learning and co-constructive teaching methods have always worked and worked effectively.

When you're a teacher, many schools encourage bridging subjects and merging topics so that the learner can see that you can have a transference of skills outside of the subject you are learning. Many students believe that what they learn in English is just for literacy skills and what you learn in Maths is just for numeracy skills - and that's it. They don't realise you can use these skills in PE or Music (among other subjects) and so when they think of the wider world and jobs outside of high school, they are unaware that you can use the skills you learn in school in all facets of your life, one way or another. e.g. the co-constructive theory of being able to chop and change skills and use them in different areas of your life and build on them from learning through different experiences.





I know in my own experience as a teacher, I used to plan around Social Science and English and try and teach Shakespeare and Documentary Drama when they were teaching Shakespeare and WW2. This way the students were learning the same sorts of concepts and they were building on their skills. They learned more about the language features of Shakespeare in English and then they came to me (Drama) and learned the history of Shakespeare and how to perform it. They learned about the history of WW2 in Social Science and then came to me (Drama) and put on a play from the perspective of a soldier or prisoner. They used the information they gathered in Social Science to inform an audience as well as entertain them. The one thing that was most vital about the whole experience of co-constructive teaching, was that the student didn't feel like they were starting from square one with their learning. They realised they had already learned a lot about the topic and therefore felt more confident in their learning.


The one thing that was most vital about the whole experience of co-constructive teaching, was that the student didn't feel like they were starting from square one with their learning. They realised they had already learned a lot about the topic and therefore felt more confident in their learning.

So, with this knowledge of how effective co-constructive teaching is, why aren't some teachers (but not all) on board with working with tutors?





One of the first things I ask a parent when they ask for online tuition for their child is "can you ask their teacher for any information, exam notes or past work your child has done based on the topic?" e.g., notes and essays they've written about Romeo and Juliet. Unfortunately, sometimes I will receive a response back from their teachers along the lines of "if students need support, they can come to me. We offer tuition during our lunch breaks". etc. etc.


Before I continue discussing this, I want to make this clear, that I do not force anyone to give me their resources or any student work. I respect their replies and professionally continue without a co-constructive concept, if they choose not to work alongside me. I know how hard teachers do work and I acknowledge the fact they do offer their time during their lunch breaks to support their students. I also know how long it takes to develop resources so if they don't want to share what the students have written on their resources, then I completely understand that as well.


I know how hard teachers do work and I acknowledge the fact they do offer their time during their lunch breaks to support their students.



However, I do think there is something wrong about stopping support for students that need more one-on-one support. This is why I think this blog is important and the topics I tackle in here should be discussed in Education.


I also want to point out, having extra online tuition is in no way a reflection on the teacher's abilities at all. Some learners just need more encouragement or more time to work on the finer details of skills - and it is physically impossible for teachers to be able to do that every day for every single learner in each class - alongside marking, running extra-curricular activities, undergoing assessments, attending meetings, data analysis, planning, resource development, printing, professional development, detentions, duties, tutorials, clubs and then having a successful homelife, parenting, and even finding some time to relax (doesn't the relaxing part sound non-existent after reading that giant list of just some of the aspects of a teacher's job).


The place our minds often go, that we never have time to go ourselves.



One comment a teacher made about online tuition was that they didn't want their students mixing up what they learned with me with what they've learned with them. The teacher was worried that the student would become confused between the two teachers and wouldn't know which one to follow.


It is a really interesting comment to make. Because in truth, if you have not been a teacher and have not learned quality teaching practices to teach the skills you are teaching, then absolutely, I agree that there can be incorrect teaching going on and some confusion can be made by the student - but generally I don't think there can be an incorrect cross over of learning skills. Here is why:



Positives of online tuition:

- students have one-on-one time

- they can have individual goals and focus specifically on their own progress, not on something a whole class or cohort is aiming towards

- their lessons/online tuition times don't have to be assessment focused, you can build up any skill

- you can receive lots of praise for things you do, and you can feel certain it is all your doing

- you can learn at your own pace

- there are no distractions from others (this includes avoiding behaviour issues, loud noises and over stimulation)

- you can choose a time that suits your best learning times (some work best at 11am, others at night)

- you can be comfortable in your own environment and feel safe to experiment/trial-and-error

- you can eat and drink to ensure you are receiving the necessary fuel to stay focused and retain information

- you don't have to wind down before and after different subjects or after seeing people that can cause a raise in anxieties and over thinking (this is different for each learner) e.g., tests, performances, using expensive or potentially unsafe equipment, being in a room with your crush)

- you don't have the pressures of impressing others or continuing with facades e.g., pretending to be cool, unintelligent (this is a common theme in students trying to impress friends, bullies or crushes)

- you don't have the pressures of having others depending on you to pull more weight than others in your group or to work with people you don't want to work with

- whether you are sick or not, you can participate in tutorials from the comfort of your home and won't transfer your illness onto others

- you can keep all of your notes, work, resources and exam prep all in one folder that can be accessible from anywhere with internet access - and not have the pressure of losing work or keeping it altogether in your school bag

- you can build positive relationships with your tutors and trust they will help guide you to reach your potential

- your parents can monitor the lessons, contribute to what is being taught, and can participate in any tutorials (that's if your tutor is happy with this process. I encourage this.)


© Tovah's Tutoring Company Ltd: Here is a Goal sheet I use to assess an individual on their critical analysis skills in English and Drama.


Furthermore - If we refer back to the definition of a tutor:

"To teach or guide usually individually in a special subject or for a particular purpose: COACH" (Merriam Webster, 2022) and if we think about the meaning of coaching, it seems certainly odd that teachers do not want to collaborate with tutors. I cannot think of any occasion where a PE teacher told a coach to stop what they were doing and rather send the student to school instead of attending a training session. Instead, they support the coaches to build the skills within their specific sports and then continue with the fundamentals in Physical Education at school. As they align with each other, you'll find the student will see a clear pathway between practices and training before a sports game/competition and skill building in PE (the subject) as well. They will then take their knowledge of team building, delegating, managing, risk taking etc. and apply it into their normal lives outside of school. This whole process of co-constructive practices works incredibly well in the Physical Education field of teaching. The same thing applies to dancers. Some dancers attend after school Dance classes or sign up to competitive companies who work with medal certifications, recitals and other competitive experiences, which all use different ways of learning and building on technique and understanding genres. In some instances, teachers will go along to events, sports games and performances to celebrate the student's achievements while also supporting the coach and/or tutor's achievements too.


This whole process of co-constructive practices works incredibly well in the Physical Education field of teaching


So where is it going wrong in other subjects? I encourage you to talk about this in your own school if you are a teacher or maybe even with your university friends if you are learning to become a teacher. Have an open conversation about what you would do and what you are comfortable sharing and exploring with others outside of your workplace (like tutors and coaches)?


The great thing about conversations like this is it allows you to figure out where your priorities are. It makes you think about what you value in yourself as a teacher, and it also allows you to learn how others feel about it too.


The great thing about conversations like this is it allows you to figure out where your priorities are

Have conversations. Be right, be wrong, be open, be heard.







Time, Experience, Manaakitanga.



Tovah O'Neill

Tovah's Tutoring Company Ltd


If you would like to book online tutoring over the holidays or during 2023, you can do so by booking here:




If you would like to know more about me as a teacher and online tutor, you can learn more by reading this blog:





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