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What should we learn from students not continuing lessons?

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by joelivingstone, Sep 7, 2020.

  1. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    I mainly tutor A level, some GCSE too.

    What should we learn from students not wanting to continue lessons with us, and what would be an 'ok' rate of that happening?

    When a student doesn't want to continue lessons, which is almost always after the first lesson, they usually just don't continue contact, though sometimes they send a polite but uninformative email.

    I'm wondering what people think are the best lessons to take from this, and how to take lessons from this.

    Sometimes I know and understand why this happens. Sometimes I didn't do a good job in that first lesson, or other times I don't click socially with the student which makes it a bit boring and formal. Other times I have no idea at all why they don't want to continue.

    It's hard to know what lessons to draw from this to improve. There isn't really any informative feedback other than the simple fact of a student continuing lessons or not.

    Sometimes I think maybe I should adjust my teaching style, but then I wonder if it's that style which is enabling me to keep the students who do stay with me, and so changing it could actually be bad. I'm quite an energetic teacher who requires constant engagement, and maybe that's just too intense for some students. Who knows! It's hard to do these calculations without any feedback.

    Am I right in just thinking that I should just accept that it's normal to lose some students because no one can have a tutoring style which fits everyone? If so, what would be a 'normal' rate at which to lose students? Or, should I aim to be more adaptable? I'd be interested to know what people think about this topic, and also how they think about it.
  2. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I don't know how long you've been tutoring. When I started that did happen a few times, that students stopped after the first lesson or a small number of lessons. I'm pleased to say it hasn't happened now for at least ten years. I think I've just got better at it and more adaptable. I don't think I could say that I have a teaching style. I try to adjust to what the student wants and their different abilities.
  3. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    That's interesting, so maybe I do need to be more adaptable. I do feel like I have a certain style and way I like to teach which can be a bit intense and isn't so fitting for students who aren't into the subject, trouble is I'm not sure I'd enjoy tutoring so much if I changed that for some students.
  4. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    There's always going to be some drop offs but you seem to have a much higher rate.
    Find out from your students what their learning style is. Find out what they feel they would most benefit from during your lessons. Find out if they've understood.
    When you work /worked in school did you do lesson evaluation? Were you observed? What were the comments?
  5. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    I don't know if I have a higher rate than average or not. I'd estimate maybe 1/10 drop off.

    I've never worked in a school or had any professional feedback like that, no. Sadly!
  6. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    What subject do you tutor?
  7. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    Philosophy and Religious studies
  8. gainly

    gainly Star commenter

    I mainly teach maths. I spend most of my lessons doing questions with them, but your subject is so different I doubt I can offer any useful advice.
  9. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

    Where do you advertise your services? I had a much lower drop out rate once I left a tutoring website that encouraged trial lessons. If you offer free trial lessons, please stop as it does not encourage clients to continue.
    I also make much more effort to weed out clients before the first lesson as well to work out their expectations etc
    In some cases it may be something you have done, but it often is nothing to do with you. For example I know that I lost one student because they got stuck in a traffic jam on the way home which I can't do anything about.
    cwilson1983 likes this.
  10. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    I advertise pretty much everywhere!

    Why don't you think offering free trial lessons is effective exactly?

    That's an interesting idea about trying to weed out clients, how do you go about that?
  11. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I don't do free trials.
    I have a professional qualification that I worked for 4 years to get and I have 20odd years of experience so I don't work for nothing.
    Are you a qualified teacher?
    cwilson1983 and Happyregardless like this.
  12. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    I don't have any teaching qualifications no, but I have a good degree and a lot of experience and I'm an examiner for the A level I tutor. So I somewhat understand the pride that goes into wanting to not work for nothing. However it seems to me that the benefit of offering a free trial lesson is that it makes a student more likely to pick you over another tutor. If you are then indeed as confident as you seem in your ability, that first lesson should be enough to convince them to commit to more lessons for which you will of course be paid.
  13. briancant

    briancant Occasional commenter

    I think every lesson is a trial really, so for that reason, I would never do one free. I'm guessing that maybe why you are getting students who don't want to continue. Your subject sounds far harder to tutor than maths. It is easy for me to make progress. The student says at the start of the lesson 'I don't understand logs' by the end they do. So they are happy and feel they have got value for money. That is the other issue do your fees match the value you bring to the student? You hear a lot on here about 'I've taught for 20 years, been HOD, examiner.....I must be worth more than a plumber...'. It just doesn't follow, the service you supply must be seen as value for money.
    phlogiston and lorencanna like this.
  14. doctoryes

    doctoryes Occasional commenter

    I suspect there are some tutees who take advantage of free trials. What they really want is ad-hoc lessons when they don't understand something. So what they do is book a trial lesson with a tutor and do not commit to regular lessons and then when they have another problem they book a trial with a different tutor and so on. For many the deciding factor is price and they go for the lowest common denominator.
    See below for an article on the advantage and disadvantages of a free trial https://www.coxblue.com/should-your-business-offer-a-free-trial-the-pros-and-cons/
    It takes a lot of work to prepare a lesson and I tend to travel to students so I don't do this for free. What I do offer is a free consultation prior to starting lessons where I go over precisely what they are looking for. This is usually done by phone or on-line.
    I am looking for a new hairdresser and free trials aren't available for that sort of business so why should tutoring be any different? I would simply book an appointment and pay for what I wanted. Whether I would use them again or not would depend on lots of different things. Service, value for money, ease of travel/parkingr etc. Some of these related directly to the person offering the service and others don't.
    lorencanna and cwilson1983 like this.
  15. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    That's an interesting point about the difference between different subjects. Maybe it is harder to demonstrate immediate added value in my subject. Especially when they want help with things like essay structure, and their teachers have taught them an unusual way of doing it, it can be difficult.
  16. shakes1616

    shakes1616 Established commenter

    Are there many students who want to study/learn philosophy and RE then?
    I wouldn't have thought there would be that many compared to say Maths or Physics.
  17. joelivingstone

    joelivingstone New commenter

    There are enough for me! Maths and physics are more popular of course, though there are more maths and physics tutors too so I guess what really matters is the student to tutor ratio in a subject, though I have no idea what it is.
  18. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    I didn't know you could be an examiner without a teaching qualification. But I suppose every subject is different.
    I don't teach A level languages because my teaching experience was in schools without sixth form so I've not read the texts and I'm not familiar with what a typical grade may look like.
    I agree with the poster who said you're more likely to attract the ones who want ad hoc lessons. So I would stop the free trials. They're paying for your time.
    To be honest I would normally not offer advice to someone without a teaching qualification but if you're an A level examiner then I'm sure you know what they're looking for. So therefore you should market yourself as such and make this a focal point in your profile. Maybe offer a discount for a block of lessons paid upfront
    lorencanna and cwilson1983 like this.
  19. cwilson1983

    cwilson1983 Occasional commenter

    Over the years, I've had one student/parent opt to not continue lessons with me after the first lesson, though I have also stopped tuition with a handful of students too for a variety of reasons. When informing the parents that I no longer wish to tutor their child, I have generally adopted a tactful approach rather than be brutally honest to avoid conflict or future impact on referrals. I think it may be the same with parents who no longer wish to avail themselves of a tutor's service: they opt for the diplomatic line rather than be totally honest. The feedback I received from the parent mentioned above was generic and not really related to the lesson I had taught.

    I'm not totally convinced there's a group of parents/students exploiting free trial lessons, though I'd never offer a free trial myself, so I may be wrong.

    If you're losing students at a regular rate try to identify why this may be, otherwise, try not to worry about it and move on to the next enquiry.
  20. microbiology

    microbiology New commenter

    How do you cancel on students?

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