Tutoring Struggles!

Hello! I’m Katie and I just wanted to create a topic (sorry if I’ve missed an existing one) to share and support each other with any of the struggles you experience from tutoring as a job. I’ll start with an experience I had today, where I had a new student and had what I thought was a pretty good first lesson, but then got a message saying thank you but it wasn’t the best fit and didn’t want to continue. I found it really hard not let this (quite rare) experience get me down and to have the perspective to see all the students that I do have a great tutoring relationship with. I have also recently started getting nervous whenever I get the text to say someone has got in touch… I’m not too sure why but I think the booking score and repeat client scores play a part in that! I have been tutoring for over 3 years and only recently have the majority of my students come through Tutorful so it’s been an adjustment.

Please feel free to share anything you find hard about tutoring and maybe we can all support one another :slight_smile:

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Hi Katie Firstly, I want to say how you are certainly not alone feeling the way you’re feeling. Whenever I have a trial lesson with a new student I am always apprehensive about if we will be a good match for each other and if I match up to the parents expectations.
It’s hard not to take it personally when they decide not to continue, but we just have to tell ourselves that there could be many reasons why they don’t want to continue.
Sometimes, the lesson time clashes with another club, sometimes the parents realise that their child would work better having a face to face tutor and others they may realise that they can’t afford to fund the classes.
Sometimes, it’s just not meant to be but there will be dozens of students who will go on to seek your help in the future.
I wish you all the very best :cherry_blossom:

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Thank you for sharing this - it is a difficult part of tutoring that I think should be talked about more. I’ve been tutoring full time for 7 years, currently around half my students come from tutorful so the scores are a big deal, and yes every year there are some students who quit after the first lesson. I’ve been through times of anxiety when I had lower scores but if you just be confident in yourself and your ability you can get enough students for your scores to consistently climb and at that point things feel much more secure.

I think part of what has helped me is understanding that I have a particular teaching style and it won’t be for everyone. I’ve thought about trying to summarise what my teaching style is like in my profile - perhaps then people who wouldn’t like it wouldn’t get in contact with me in the first place.

Also, I hesitate a little bit to admit this, but when a prospective client seems quite demanding/controlling, I often don’t agree to tutor them. It’s just not worth it!

About half the time I am rejected by a student, I can figure out some way in which I messed up during that initial session. Trying to address that and fix it for next time can make you feel better too.

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Hi Katie - I am Tutorful’s History ambassador and have been teaching online for about five years and 25 years in schools before that. I want to offer you some re-assurance, all teachers by their very nature go over their lessons looking to see how that can improve and develop to make their lessons more effective. Where we often go wrong is that we tend to blame ourselves when things don’t work out and take little credit for our successes. Based on your post it seems to me that you are exactly the kind of teacher and tutor that any parent would want for their son or daughter. Remember, tutoring can end or not proceed for all kinds of reasons and that they might not tell you the real reason, it could be economic or family circumstances or a combination of factors unknown to you acting in concert. So as we would say to our students, yes by all means ask the question, ‘how could I improve’ and ‘even better if’ but please don’t beat yourself up about this, instead reflect on those magic moments where you really made a difference and look to repeat them. Lastly (and as a history teacher this is one of my favorites), in the words of the Emperor Napoleon, ‘victory has many fathers - defeat is an orphan’ - best wishes from Paul

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The booking and repeat client scores have caused me some anxiety in the past but those scores are based on an algorithm and are not public. The hours you have taught are public so once you’ve taught some classes on Tutorful people will be able to see you’re not inexperienced.

I have actually rejected a lot of tutoring requests because I didn’t like the tone of their message. You can send them an automated message saying you haven’t got time to teach them. I’d rather not risk a potentially negative experience, personally. So, if my instinct tells me that talking with someone might result in negativity, then I send them an automated response. Sometimes messages appear quite demanding and suggest they have unrealistic expectations. In these cases I don’t risk what my instinct and deduction tells me will likely result in frustration and negativity. I really enjoy helping people who have a good attitude but not everyone is like that.

I’ve had a lot of clients stick with me but a few disappear or say they aren’t going to have any more lessons. Financial reasons, unrealistic expectations, not reading your profile properly and the client generally being a douchebag are all potential reasons as to why someone might cancel lessons. Alternatively it’s possible they might not like you personally but, in that case, why did they message you in the first place if they were going to be like that? My recommendation is to be quick to pre-emptively reject tutoring requests to avoid this.

Best wishes,
Ed

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Thanks for sharing! Yes you’re right, we can so easily assume the worst when there could be loads of things going behind the scenes that we’re unaware of! I really appreciate the encouragement :slight_smile:

Yes I think I take the scores a bit too seriously, wanting them to be top/near the top all the time, but it’s probably natural for them to fluctuate.

You’re right about teaching style, it would be impossible to please everyone! I am now trying to implement not taking on a student for a full lesson until I’ve met them/the parent for a free video chat first and to try to be really clear about how my lessons tend to work and if I can offer what they want, but it’s taking a bit of trial and error to get the process right and I need to not let the scores control me into taking on students for the sake of it.

That’s interesting and probably wise about not taking on some students, out of interest how would you word a message that says you won’t be tutoring them??

Hi Paul, thank you so much for your encouragement, that’s all so true and very wise!

Yes, it is good that they’re not public scores but the fact that they affect your ranking in the search results does still cause me to worry - probably pointlessly!

An automated response is really interesting, is that just something you have written out and then copy and paste it in? I am considering that for messages that come through when I really don’t want to be working but I don’t want my ‘reply time’ to go down alot - just copy and pasting a message that says thank you and I’ll be in touch soon or something… I think I am finding boundaries hard - a classic self-employed problem!

I asked this above but how would you word a message to reject a tutoring request?

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I think it’s a valid point to raise. Though it is nice to have these positive scores, I personally take little notice of them as the majority of students have not come through this platform. The last one that did, I have not heard from as it was the start of Covid and though I received an excellent review from him, I feel many students approaching post-Covid may have different priorities/ mind sets about life in general. (Sorry, that seemed a little too philosophical!).
I do think there is that expectation of students/ parents adopting this try/buy mentality and ultimately students/ parents want to ‘click’ with a tutor straightaway. As individuals we will click with most but not with everyone. When there is a trial lesson, we only have a short period of time to establish trust in this working relationship. It is tricky to do this. As I work at a school as well, trying to establish that trust one hour a week with a class also takes time and it becomes more apparent in a 1-2-1 situation.
The way I see it is, there will some times when it doesn’t work out but the majority of the time when it does, the working relationship that is built is incredibly strong as a tutor. Don’t feel too downhearted about it and I would look at those that you have established strong bonds with already.

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I click on whichever out of those options I think works. Once someone just had a terrible attitude so I selected “other reason”.

My reply time is under an hour. When I don’t want to receive messages I switch my profile to offline. When it’s online I am vigilant to reply ASAP, including automated lesson rejections.

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@ATA Yes I think you’re right with the try/buy mentality sometimes, and with online tutoring, I think perhaps it makes that even worse - interactions over a computer are much less personal and so there’s less ‘connection’ and we can be treated more like a product than a person. Focusing on our positive tutoring relationships is definitely the thing to do! :slight_smile:

@Dr_Edward_James ahhh yes thanks! I have been considering switching my profile offline more, but I think I’m an over-worrier and assume I’ll miss out on the ‘perfect’ student request haha. Boundaries are so important though…

Hi @katie,

Firstly, I’m sorry you had that experience and I’m sorry that it has affected you negatively.

I’ve had some similar types of experiences which have surprised me in the past (thankfully, they seem rarer now). When they do happen, I’m learning to take them more in my stride: online tutoring is very competitive and sometimes they just decided to go with someone else, your (I’m sure fantastic!) teaching style won’t suit everyone, and neither will mine. The first session is about ensuring that you and the student are both aligned - sometimes this doesn’t happen, but more often than not, that’s not anyone’s fault; there are many ways to teach and be taught, after all.

As others have said, being really open and clear on your profile helps parents see what you can offer, and I think really helps with the ‘matching’ process. Also, as others have said, it’s important to trust your own instincts - sometimes you’ll need to say ‘no’ to a request due to unrealistic expectations etc.

Believe in yourself and focus on how many students you’ve helped - I’m sure you are making a huge difference to their lives every day :heart:

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@Rosie_A thanks so much for sharing, it helps so much to know other people are in/have been in the same boat (it’s obvious but makes a difference to actually hear it). Everything you’ve said is really helpful and encouraging! :blue_heart:

Not a problem @katie - I’m so glad we can support each other as a community on this platform! :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Hi all, I just want to say that I found this thread really interesting and very reassuring!

I really relate to JoeL’s comments about demanding/controlling customers. I worked for a big company for many years and really love being able to choose who I work with.

The scores can be a roller coaster ride. I tend to stay offline most of the time, only going live when I really need to pick up a new student. At the moment, I’m finding that I am being contacted directly for local face-to-face tutoring.

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It has happened to me once or twice. I’m fairly sure parents have first lessons with one or more tutor. Using the excuse best fit doesn’t do anything for our confidence.

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You are definitely not alone. Been a tutor on here for 3.5 years, great reviews…but I still get incredibly nervous when I’m ‘online’ (which I’m not at the moment!). I get so many people contact me but never book in, and I always get frustrated by the system. I am so grateful for Tutorful, but I still feel anxious job hunting as it’s hard. Job hunting is tricky! Keep going though!

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@Rosie_A Me too! To be honest, I’ve been wondering whether to carry on at all, but I think this time of year is just very changable/unstable especially with the GCSE exams cancelled and teacher assessments in place!

@Toby_Langford I have never really had the mindset of being able to choose who I work with - that’s really interesting. I think being self-employed and not traditionally ‘full-time’ has made me think I need to accept anyone and everyone who comes knocking but I think I’m slowly learning that that’s not necessarily the case. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you’re getting contacted for in-person work :slight_smile:

@Dawn I think you’re right! I need to remember this.

@katywilson6 thanks so much for your perspective and encouragement! It really helps to know it’s not just me haha. I am now not online for the first time and really appreciating the peace of mind :joy:

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Ah don’t worry… it happens quite often. Be more vigilant on selecting the right students and don’t be afraid to reject them if you feel they don’t have the right aptitude.

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