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Honestly? Well...

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by cwilson1983, Apr 15, 2016.

  1. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter


    I currently tutor a student but I'm increasingly not looking forward to the sessions for various reasons and plan to stop tutoring her.

    Any tips on how to politely but firmly end things? Part of me feels like I should tell the parents exactly why I no longer want to tutor their child so that they can address the issues before they hire another tutor. However, whilst I would hope to be constructive, I don't want to cause offence, and can feel the old "too busy with school work" generic response being doled out.

    I tutor other students too and enjoy these sessions. I'm just... not feeling it with this one.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Skillsheets

    Skillsheets Occasional commenter

    Honesty is the best policy. I carried on with one child I disliked for far too long because I am too nice and ended up missing out on the chance to tutor a much more pleasant individual. Sometimes children are pushed unwillingly into tuition or dragged from activity to activity and tutors bear the brunt of it. I have one at the moment who is always on the edge of acceptable behaviour. She is rude and uncooperative at times and won't learn anything that isn't on the next test. She would be the first to go if I chose to. I have had a long chat with her mum and it cleared the air for a while.
    The fact that my other students are happy or at least making progress makes me believe it's not MY problem. We can't get on with everyone.
    cwilson1983 likes this.
  3. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

    It can be difficult to know how to do this. It is preferable to try to end things by mutual agreement rather than just coming out with an excuse. (With some parents that is the still the quickest way to deal with it though). I would try not to be too negative about the child and perhaps give a notice period to give them time to find another tutor (if you/they thing that is what is needed). I am sure most parents wouldn't want to waste their money if they didn't think tutoring was working. Perhaps they are thinking along similar lines and don't want to offend you by ending tuition either. Usually I would say something to the effect that I have done everything that I can and have covered the work requested, but feel that X is not really responding well to my tutoring methods and that I think they should try another tutor.
    sabrinakat and cwilson1983 like this.
  4. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    It's best to be honest for all concerned. Even in schools, students can be moved occasionally due to personality clashes.
    cwilson1983 likes this.
  5. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    Agree re being honest but at the same time, it's best if you don't hack the parents off with what you say about their son / daughter. They may still recommend you to other parents if you can keep them onside.

    Do you mind elaborating on the reasons? It's much easier to give proper advice when given more information.
    cwilson1983 likes this.
  6. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter

    Well, with regards the student there are a few issues that generally suggest disinterest in either my methods or tutoring generally:
    -Not completing homework or making a half-hearted effort
    -Not using the notes we made during the class to assist with homework
    -Not listening and trying to talk off topic requiring constant prompting
    -Wearing pyjamas and yawning (in the middle of the afternoon) before the session begins. A minor thing to nag about what someone wears but I dress professionally and I feel wearing pyjamas sets the wrong tone.

    With the parents, I realise I am being paid to tutor their child but:
    -When told about lack of homework, I was told to be strict and remind the student to write things down (the latter of which I do already). I'm not keen to take such a strict approach with a tutee. What do they want me to do exactly? Detention?
    -Not sending homework to me promptly on agreed dates so it can be marked before the session-something I do for free too! I find it is better for planning if I can check work and tailor tuition around that. I often find I have to remind the parents more than the student.
    -Cancelling at the last minute (only happened the once but not for an emergency).
    Never offering me a cup of tea. Again, I know I'm being paid and it's a small thing but it would be appreciated.
  7. Skillsheets

    Skillsheets Occasional commenter

    I think a lot of tutees do numbers one and two on the list. This is mainly why they need tuition. Is the yawning after a full day at school ?
    Pyjamas should be a big NO WAY on the child protection front it is putting you in a potentially very awkward situation.
    cwilson1983 likes this.
  8. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    You probably need to just say to the parents that you don't think it's worth continuing the sessions. I've been a tutor for three years and I've only had one pupil like you describe.

    I literally had to drag myself to their sessions.

    In the end I just got Mum and Student in one room and told them. It improved things a little and then (mercifully) the year ended. If this happened again I would cut my losses.

    I have a great student right now but I don't get a cup of coffee (it's a six mile cycle ride for me to get to him and we usually go over time - which I don't charge for). Last week I just asked if I could make one and that seemed OK.

    The pyjamas thing makes me shudder though.
    cwilson1983 likes this.
  9. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    I think a lot of tutees do numbers one and two on the list. This is mainly why they need tuition

    100% agree!

    I think putting in the work outside the lessons is crucial to progress although I also think that it's really important to make the pupils and parents realise this for themselves, so that they're doing it out of their own self-motivation rather than because I say they have to do it. I've got a couple of techniques I use to effectively achieve this, and I find these work with 90% of pupils.

    However, if they're not responding / reacting well to whatever you're trying, you've got to do something. I've got one pupil at the moment (a year 9 - I often find the younger ones to be the most unmotivated, as they don't have big exams coming up anytime soon) who isn't responding well. He's lazy, sulky and unmotivated and I had a conversation with his parents after the last lesson.
    I made it clear to them that their son's progress was being hugely limited not because of any lack of ability but because of his lack of enthusiasm and lack of interest in the subject. I said that I'll see how things go over the next lesson or 2 but that if he remained so disinterested and unmotivated, I'd have to suggest to them that they were wasting their money.

    I've not had the next lesson yet so I can't yet say if this conversation has worked! However, what I do know is that I've kept the parents onside (they appreciate the honesty and appreciate that I'm not just after the money) and also given a bit of forewarning (i.e. an opportunity to rectify the behaviour) rather than just dropping their son straight away (which obviously would hack them off).
  10. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter

    Thank you for the advice everyone. I'll see how the next session goes (especially the homework) and have a chat with the parents.
  11. Ian1983

    Ian1983 Occasional commenter

    Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

    I saw my awkward one Tuesday and he was alright, so I've not got shot of him.........................yet! ;)
  12. QAAWyrd_Tuition

    QAAWyrd_Tuition New commenter

    Introduce them to a contract with some conditions that you have written - add a clause in it that allows you to renew the tuition on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis at a weeks notice. Put a few basic behavior details - the kind of space to work in, the resources you will use, politeness. Add that you will referee at the end of the tuition period for the student if the work has been productive as a 'to whom it may concern' kind of reference, or state you would be prepared referee to if they wish to go to uni or sixth form college if the sessions are productive and politeness and reasonableness are seen - obviously every now and then a student wants to watch a favourite tv programme or hand out with friends so offer a change of time if possible.
    Incentives sometimes work. (If the parents want to see results write up a list of tuition sessions and what you expect or aim to achieve and add a few (not personal) notes) write a note about a lesson with a compliment or two. Maybe provide an extra session if they are studying for exams, that is free or on a discount. Check they aren't hungry - sometimes the tuition is taking food money from the family if they have other outgoings - maybe a snack before you turn up could make a difference. Its quite a big step for parents to pay out for tuition so be very reasonable as you don't want other parents in the area to not have you as a tutor in the future. Just a few thoughts... oh and be very wary of the parents who may try to name you in a divorce... desperation can be a very difficult thing to counteract. Also be careful for personal safety if you are in someone's home - have a mobile on voice dial if you have a difficult student while you sort the end of the tuition - maybe by email.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  13. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I don't know if I live in another world but:-

    I have never feared for my safety
    I have never come across a family who appears to put tuition over food
    I do not offer free lessons
    I have never had to address behaviour issues. One time I had a student who I thought was a bit on the lazy side, we did a bit of maths and worked out how much his mum had paid me up to that point. he was fine after that and got the grade he needed.

    I have tutored for four years and it is my sole income
    sabrinakat and cwilson1983 like this.
  14. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter

    Eventually, when I can afford to, I'd like to make tuition my sole income too. I've added up the number of hours I'd need per week to provide an annual income (including the quiet holiday periods) and it's at least 20 hours per week (not taking tax into account).

    I'm happy to work those few hours compared to teaching full time (obviously it would be more like 30-40 with planning, marking homework and travel) but wonder where I'd get the business from. I do have demand for my services but nowhere near 20 hours (20 clients) per week. More like 3-4 at a time.

    Any tips for the future?
  15. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Many of my clients are adults as I teach languages.I get a fair number from a local large employer as they fund a leisure scheme and each employee gets one voucher per year. Sometimes these carry on and pay for their own lessons when the voucher runs out.
    If you are secondary,there could be an opportunity for intervention lessons at the local school. With the number of academies outside of local authority control, this may make it easier for tutors to do this.
    If you are primary could you maybe offer holiday activities to maintain your income over the holidays.
    If you don't already have a facebook page for your lessons, set one up and use it. It is free and I have got some, not tons, but some work this way. It as been more beneficial to me than a website.
    Get a profile on local mum type sites like netmums that kind of thing. These are generally free and I have had some work from them and also there is no cost to the parents like there is with first tutors / uktutors / tutorhunt
    Best of luck
  16. QAAWyrd_Tuition

    QAAWyrd_Tuition New commenter

    Perhaps you have never worked in a school, coped with classes and all the pastoral input
  17. QAAWyrd_Tuition

    QAAWyrd_Tuition New commenter

    One of the worst aspects of private tuition is the amount of competition online - whether parents pay the online commission fee or they find the tutor through an agency (who often ask for commission from every tuition session) and treading on bigger organisation toes - the larger organisations can offer collective tuition in venues but to be able to compete at this level and/or with courses a VAT registration is needed. One of the best aspects is when the student moves up several grades at exam time.
    I'm not sure about extra homework from tuition sessions - older exam students know they have lots of revision to complete, younger ones often need to regain a love of learning after tough times in classrooms with schoolmates who aren't so keen on learning. Reading in advance is cool.
  18. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter

    Thanks for the tips - particularly setting up an account on parent-centric websites. I have a personal Facebook page but did think about setting up a specific one for tuition (in which case I'd probably use all social media platforms I could think of, especially if they are "free".

    I have had plenty of leads from Tutor Hunt and for that reason I'm prepared to stick with them. UK Tutors has seemingly become a ghost-site (for me anyway) and I got no leads from First Tutors. Gumtree was another good way to get business though you have to pay to advertise now.

    At the moment I'm happy enough to do a few tuition jobs to supplement my full time income but was thinking about the future and whether tuition is a feasible way of making a living part/full time.
  19. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I meant as a private tutor!
    I worked in a very rough school for 17 years previous to that.....it's a different story altogether
  20. QAAWyrd_Tuition

    QAAWyrd_Tuition New commenter

    Are Tutor Hunt expensive?

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