How tutors pivoted to online

Covid-19-related pandemic has created seismic shifts in how we live our lives. The major impact has been on our mobility and social interactions and activities. Close contenders to these are job losses and the major impact on the US economy. Research shows that the unemployment rate is increasing and methods of achieving relief during unemployment are becoming more and more difficult and scarce.

In this terrible scenario, there are some groups that are especially affected by the current realities around unemployment in the US. The dispossessed societal groups are especially at risk of malnutrition and mental and physical health risks, in addition to a high susceptibility to low immunity and, therefore, increased possibility of contracting the deadly virus.

This article will look at a smaller subset of such money-earners who have popularly been part of the gig economy. These are some of the ways in which independent tutors can ensure their financial safety.

A gig economy, very popular especially with the younger demographic of the population, is characterized by short term contract work and flexible working hours and a lot of ‘hustling’. Under this category, my experience especially, as an educator, has been of being a home tutor. This will be the pivot of the article and it will address the best practices to stay afloat during this economic and employment crisis as a freelance home tutor.

Moving the lessons online

It would not be a unique or even original idea that one could conduct tuition classes on online platforms. It might even be the case that some of you were already offering tuition services online in the pre-lockdown era. The choice of a reliable and user-friendly platform to conduct these lessons is the very first and mindful decision. Secondly, it is useful to use google docs as a medium of looking at the live work that the student does. This helps you keep track of the work by the student. In this case, however, please be mindful to not refer to each step that the student is taking as it can feel controlling. The best practice would be to take the student’s permission before looking at their work, even as you both are privy to viewing and editing the google document.

This move should help you save on the costs of travel. It is important to share with your clients that your position as a freelancer implies that any deduction in tuition fee would have a direct detrimental impact on your income. It is important to come to a transparent and amicable agreement.

Hustling at the community level

Freelancers hustling with multiple jobs is not at all uncommon. It is an especially difficult time for pending payments to be cleared and future projects to be realized. In this occasion, it might be a good idea to increase the number of students that you, as a tutor, cater to. It is also a great idea to have a single session with multiple students. You could price these tuition classes at different prices depending on the level of engagement that you can promise each student.

A useful tip is to spread the word about your classes through friends and to make accounts (preferably free) on various job portals, like Classgap, Tutorme, etc. Ensure to look into the homeschooling communities and use teaching techniques that are innovative in nature, like storytelling, use of online technical possibilities, and interactive tools like polls and whiteboards to keep the students engaged in the learning process.

Everyday financial tips for online tutors

  • Ensure that you get the agreement (even a draft contract) in place on a written document over the course of discussion and agreement. This email thread helps in ensuring that the clients keep their end of the deal.
  • It would be useful to have a visible website to give one a professional contour. It is also advised that testimonials be added on this site as tutoring is often evaluated by students’ capacity to learn from a particular teacher.
  • Ensure to start and end on time. It is important to remember that online tutoring can be very exhausting and one needs to take breaks in between classes. Any more than the contractual time would result in growing fatigue.
  • Make use of audio visual tools like these videos and visual representations about conic sections. The lockdown has also seen various academic and pedagogical resources being made available for free. Ensure that you make the most of this. Spaces from research journals to museum tours are opening up.
  • Ensure you have an inspiring work space and strong internet connection to keep the online tutoring space as stable and consistent as possible.

Alan Oakman is an online STEM tutor, teaching K-12 students. His love for interdisciplinary education and everyday psychology has prompted him to start blogging. You can check out his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Online tutoring stock photo /Shutterstock