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We're paying -why won't you teach our son?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by David Getling, Jun 4, 2018.

  1. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I wonder how many have a tale like this to tell.

    I started teaching a boy on Sundays at 10:00. After a couple of weeks he turned up late, because he couldn't get his butt out of bed. So mother and boy were told that this was unacceptable. Boy turns up on time next week, but before the following lesson the mother phones to say that her son feels he doesn't need any more help until next September. I should have just dropped him then, but I told the mother that he was a weak student and definitely needed the tutoring. After missing a Sunday the mother gets back to me saying they wish to continue. I tell her that the boy must show every Sunday until the end of term. Boy turns up next Sunday, late. Then before the following session mother calls again. It's half term and her darling son, being an only child, wishes to spend the holiday with his cousins. Being a reasonable person, I grant him ONE Sunday off. But you've guessed it, on the Saturday before the next Sunday mother phones again to say he can't make it.

    So, I tell the mother that I'm not prepared to tutor her son again. I tell her about all the dedicated, committed students who have been coming throughout the half term, and that I've no time for lazy boys who don't want to work. The woman simply can't understand why, as she is paying, I don't want to waste time on her useless son. Do parents not understand that they shouldn't pander to kids who have no work ethic? Classroom teachers might be forced to, but nobody else will. That's the great thing about being a tutor. I expect my students to have a strong sense of honour, duty and a good work ethic, and don't have to put up with any who are lacking in these VITAL qualities.

    Should also add that the mother told me I was worse (about attendance) than his last tutor. I wonder just how many tutors this waste-of-space boy has alienated, and why the mother refuses to acknowledge that her son needs a really good kick up the backside.

    Any similar tales?
  2. theluckycat

    theluckycat Occasional commenter

    I think it's a balance. Children need down-time, education is so stretching now that much of the joy can quickly be sucked out of learning for children. Obviously you don't want to be out of pocket and need to set boundaries, however I often find with the primary-age kids I teach that they need a mix of pushing them to make them think, and more engaging and fun activities to maintain motivation. I teach a Y1 child who rolls in at 6 after a full day at school and after-school club straight to the kitchen table for an hour with me. There is a need to make sure their desire to learn and natural curiosity is not extinguished. I understand that you probably teach older children, but as a reflective practitioner I do always have expectations of my tutee and also an awareness that I need to make sure lessons are motivating and rewarding for them.
  3. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

    I don't expect all pupils to have lessons in the school holidays. But what I do is contact them a couple of weeks beforehand to confirm whether they would like holiday lesson(s) or not and at this point they would be expected to stick to this. So if they were going on holiday then we would agree a restart date in advance. If they wanted lessons they would need to book in advance and no cancellations.
    I give priority to Y11s and Y13s in the May half-term.
    For weekdays I would only expect pupils to miss one week of lessons over half term.
    I once had a student whose family lived abroad and she stretched out a week's school holiday to missing 3 lessons as she left a few days before term ended and returned a few days later. On her return it was obvious she had none of the set homework and after just one more lesson cancelled again at short notice saying that she was on a school trip and the bus was late back so she couldn't make it. The latter excuse wasn't true as my child who attends same school and was also on that trip made it back on time (there was only one school coach). This student was then dropped!
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  4. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    True-plus many students might have special needs/particular emotional problems or BTL that we aren't aware of. Sometimes 1:1 teachers discovered this, but I believe that there is no longer any 1:1 in schools-a terrible shame, as many families cannot afford (or will not have) a tutor for their child.
    Things are so difficult in ways they just weren't when I was a child-yes, we were poorer, but we didn't have social media, we all got to play out, parents acted as parents and let us just be children!
    But obviously OP has to make money-if having this boy is preventing you from doing so, most people would say it's up to you if you won't continue to teach him.
  5. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    A very different kettle of wossnames, tutoring a Year 1 and a KS4/5 kid for their GCSE/A level. Once they reach that age, they just need to knuckle down.
  6. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    I get a fed up with parents who do not know, or want to know, that their child has any part in the tutoring process, and who think that bringing in a tutor is like getting someone in to fix their washing machine. "So, if you give Johnny a lesson a week for six weeks, he will get an A*. Right?" Even worse are those parents who are aggrieved when little Johnny, who has not put in any effort, does not get an A.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  7. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    There are only so many chances you can give someone
    Generally, once a student has been with me for a while, my cancellation policy varies according to who they are! I have some very long standing students who I know would only cancel if they need to. I had one that came from a funeral the other week! I had no idea it was the funeral until they came. Others, if they push, I will charge, they either pay up and don't cancel again or they stop coming. If they stop coming, they are soon replaced.
    With regard to holidays, I generally check a few weeks before, try and get them on the same days etc so that my work is consolidated and I get a bit of time off too. I have a fair number of adult students with property abroad, so I am flexible with them. My partner works away and sometimes I need a bit of flexibility to be able to either go and visit him or have a bit of time off when he is home. generally, I find it works quite well and I will try and move around the ones I know are more flexible. I have an adult learner who comes on his way home on Fridays at 5 o clock. I can go for a few weeks without seeing him for one reason or another but no way would I want to replace him with, say a GCSE student who wants every week, because it suits me, I know, if I want to go away for the weekend, he won't mind. He is learning for his own interests and I just keep him ticking over.
    JL48 likes this.
  8. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    I think the issue is the tutoring at 10.00 am on a sunday morning.

    As you are aware, teenagers go to bed late, especially at the weekend, so you could suggest a more reasonable time for tutoring ?

    Who suggested tutoring a teenager on a Sunday morning (???)

    If you moved this pupil to a week day or later in the day on a Saturday, I suspect this wont happen as often. I have been tutoring for 20 years and I have a huge amount of experience. You need to build a good rapport with the pupil and the family and to build trust and respect. My pupils are generally with me all the way up to GCSE and this is for a number of years. I generally build goodwill with my parents and try to be as flexible as realistic.

    I am also a parent so understand the challenges that parents have.
    theluckycat likes this.
  9. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Sebedina, as I told the mother, I'm only interested in tutoring dedicated students who want to learn: I don't need the money that badly. I've had plenty of other students who manage 10:00 without any trouble. I even have a very bright lad who gets himself here at 9am on Saturday mornings. Why on earth would I sacrifice my weekend afternoons for a lazy boy, with no sense of honour, who can't be bothered to get out of bed?

    You say you are a parent who understands the challenges. No! It's a simple matter of instilling good habits from a very early age: a sense of duty and obligation to others, and an excellent work ethic. If the child does not comply then strong sanctions must always be applied. My mother was a soft touch with my brother. Like too many mothers she used to say he would sort himself out as he got older. He drank himself to death a few years ago. Making sure a child grows up with a really good set of values is one of the best gifts you can give it. And, having taught enough of them, I can tell you that most boys need a very firm hand, they will say and promise anything and then break their word without a second's thought: this lack of honour needs to be destroyed as early as possible, not pandered to.
    heatherbelle84 and Mrsmumbles like this.
  10. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    If getting up on Sunday mornings is a problem they should not really have agreed this time.
    My weekends are my own so I don't have this problem. I occasionally get asked for Sunday but I don't do it
    I used to do Saturdays with primaries but there are too many birthday parties, football matches , days out etc. Since I stopped doing weekends I have far fewer cancellations . The benefit of being able to teach a subject where more than half my students are adults and are either shift workers or retired
  11. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Absolutely right. I do Saturday mornings, and occasionally, for a very good student I might do the odd session on Saturday afternoon. As I'm fairly full at the times I'm prepared to work after school I agreed to fit this wretched boy in on Sunday morning, but as they say: no good deed goes unpunished.
  12. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    David, very sorry to hear about your brother. That is dreadful.

    I do understand as regards Sundays. I generally try to avoid tutoring on a Sunday but on occasion, either I am full on weekdays so end up agreeing to tutoring on a Sunday.

    However, I find it depends very much on the family itself. I have two pupils that come to me on Sunday mornings at 9.30 am, however, they are frequently cancelling for all sorts of reasons (and this is a mother who is really dedicated as she takes her daughter to another tutor for her 11+ at 9.00am before heading to me.

    That is why I am not sure it is such a good idea to tutor on Sunday mornings. The cancellations don't bother me too much because these are my "extra" pupils as I am already full.

    It can be annoying at times, though, but I haven't charged them extra because I know they are struggling financially and I have already given them a discount.
  13. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Sebedina, as I said at the start of this thread, the boy had already tried to convince his mother that he didn't need any more tutoring this school year, when he clearly did. So, it wasn't Sundays that were so much a problem, but a lazy boy who didn't want to work and would use any excuse not to. From several conversations with his mother I was told that he wasted countless hours on his computer, and she had the attitude of "well maybe he will change". Hence the tale about my brother, because that's exactly what my mother used to say.

    For students who I know are diligent I tend to be quite flexible, and even put myself out. But one of the great things about not being in a school is that I don't have to put up with any nonsense.

    From the unhealthy amount of time spent on his computer, and the need to spend every possible moment with his cousins (instead of hanging with school mates), I suspect that the boy is somewhere on the autism spectrum, but that's definitely not my problem.
  14. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    After saying I don't get that many cancellations it looks like I've been stood up today! I've double checked my messages and it's definitely not my mistake but so far no show. GCSE pupil who is generally conscientious so I suspect they've just got bogged down in exams and forgotten
    No reply off the parent as yet..... May as well have something to eat
  15. sebedina

    sebedina Occasional commenter

    Yes, it sounds like they have forgotten as it is right in the GCSE exam season. Maybe the school was running revision sessions after school and they forgot.

    Sometimes I am relieved when I get a cancellation as I am so busy it is an unexpected break.
  16. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    Yes...that was it
    Mum was mortified and offered straight away to pay in full
    in the meantime, I had my tea
  17. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I used to regularly tutor at 10.00 am Sunday. Never had much of a problem except a couple of times when the clocks went forward and they forgot. After that I started texting the day before the clocks changed to remind them,

    It sounds like the real problem is the boy didn't want lessons. It is a waste of everyone's time trying to tutor someone who doesn't want tutoring so best to drop them.
  18. Telvis

    Telvis New commenter

    I wish someone would come up with a profile of people who aren’t interested in being tutored. The tutees who I find it a struggle to engage with in tuition tend to be young, white, lower middle class, academically poor males. It rarely seems to work out for me with this group, however there have been some exceptions to this. I try to use football chat and humour with some success, but often they just don’t want to be here. I genuinely try my best with this group but it normally ends with me cancelling the tuition after a number of no shows (usually unpaid) and an ongoing lack of engagement. Do other people tend to have more girls than boys coming for tuition?
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  19. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Oh yes! I have a terms and conditions policy so they prepay me in ten hour blocks, so if they don’t give me 48 hours notice, the lesson is paid fo by them anyway. A one off is fine, but every other week is a joke. I get more of the prepaying parents who at about week four, want to stop early, then bag the slot back in September, assuming I can just go without pay for two months. On the plus side, I know they’re coming back. On their minus, they’ll be waiting while other fill in slots end. Loyalty cuts both ways!
  20. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I've always had roughly equal numbers of boys and girls. I can't say I have noticed any particular profile of those not interested in being tutored. I've had students from the same family where one sibling has been a lovely student and the other one quite the opposite.

    The best students tend to be those who know what they want to do after school (especially those who want to do medicine at university) and have a strong motivation to get top grades. On the other hand I've had parents contacting me saying their children want to be doctors. However when I meet them it is clear it is the parents who want them to be doctors and, short of a brain transplant, this is totally unrealistic. I am always encouraged when first contact comes from the student rather than the parent as then I can be pretty sure they actually want tuition.
    Mrsmumbles and JohnJCazorla like this.

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