Category Archives: socials

Rest and looking back at the last academic year

The peak of the academic year ends for me after around the second week of June. By then the exhaustion has really kicked in and I’ve been running on adrenaline with total commitment to helping my students. The demand on my hours is highest in the build up to exams as existing tutees (some who I have been working for many years) need that last minute support, reassurance and specific troubleshooting with exam questions or technique in general.

At a family music festival in early June

Things then gradually slow down but never really stop during the summer until I decide to block a week or two off and go on holiday. I am still to do this and definitely need to do take some time off completely from tutoring to refresh and re energise in doing the thing I enjoy.

Every academic year is unique and different. This year the highlights for me have been:

Taking Sundays off every week

At the start of this academic year back in September 2018 I made the decision to not tutor on Sundays. This is something I had done almost every year previously with tutoring 7 days a week being the norm. This seemed like a tough decision at the time but it has been the single best decision I made last year. Having one day off a week meant cramming my Saturdays as a result. Previously I’d like to keep Saturdays and Sundays light but now I felt I needed a full day off entirely. That one day off a week, spending time with family, doing music and relaxing has been priceless for my well being.

Taking time off for CPD and the value it provides

At #MathsConf19 in Penistone (Sheffield) in June 2019

The biggest cost to me for taking CPD is taking the actual time off tutoring. Lost tutoring hours is lost income and disruption to the regular tutoring timetable. There are other costs like train, hotel, food etc. when travelling to conferences. The cost is well more than worth it, some of it helping reduce the tax bill a little and the rest is all about increased confidence and finding a community of teachers. CPD is a long term investment and like many things in life, taking a hit in the short term is necessary to play the long game. Besides, many teachers who deliver CPD often do so at their expense and two events I went to were free which I am grateful for.

There is absolutely no doubt that I have learnt more about teaching maths and developed more as a maths tutor this year than in any other year. I went to 3 maths conferences, #MathsConf17 near the start of the school year, #MathsConf18 just before Easter and then #MathsConf19 as a treat after exams. Last summer I attended a workshop on 11+ exam entry prep and a La Salle one on ‘Making maths memorable’. Continuing with the La Salle ones again with two phenomenal workshops in the autumn term (Multiple Representations and CPAL). This summer so far I’ve been to a making maths videos afternoon, Maths Teachers Network day and a Dyscalculia conference.

Using manipulatives for teaching maths.

I am always excited to tell parents of tutees about all the new ways I learn about educating their child. And I have new self belief that I am becoming a much better online maths tutor for primary, Dyscalculia, GCSE, IGCSE and A Level.

CPD is not just about attending courses though, I am reading books (more on that below) and engaging in conversations with teachers and tutors on twitter + Facebook all the time. It is invaluable to learn from other teachers and to articulate what is on one’s mind.

Books, books, books, a microphone and a chair

These are the books I read during the last academic year. Some directly related to tutoring and some on general knowledge.

  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
  • Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Factfulness: Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
  • Dyscalculia: from Science to Education by Brian Butterworth

Last year I spent all summer reading Craig Barton’s book ‘How I wish I’d taught maths‘ and this summer so far I have been getting well into Mark McCourt’s ‘Teaching for Mastery‘. I have a massive backlog of books after that still. I am addicted to reading about education.

Book reading this summer.

Being a sound and music nerd I also bought a shiny new USB microphone to improve my online tutoring sound quality. The Rode NT USB gives crystal clear sound to my tutees. I can’t believe it took me so long to buy a high quality external mic!

Last June I bought the most important piece of hardware of all, a proper fully adjustable desk chair. Previously I was starting to get back pain and other back problems that I don’t even know of. Long days of online tutoring at home on rigid chairs was not good for my back. The new chair, together with taking plenty of standing breaks has helped my back recover back to normal this year.

Tutoring community of those showing up and an award!

I am so glad to see tutors showing up to the London Tutors meetups that I organise. And those who turn up to the maths conferences and CPD events. It is refreshing to see the same group of tutors regularly engaging in meeting each other and going to CPD events. The tutoring communities are relatively young and it is thanks to these that I found such a wide world of educators and teaching CPD.

The Profs Tutors Summer Party 2019

At the end of year summer tutors party I was ecstatic to receive an award from The Profs for being an ambassador for them. In helping promote them and the work I have done with online tutoring communities. I am very grateful for the award and will treasure the trophy and speech that was given during the award.

Maturing as a SEN and teaching adults tutor

With a few years of teaching SEN students (Dyscalculia is really my specialism but it is often comorbid with other issues), I feel like I am starting to mature in teaching in this area. By tutoring in this area I am developing real sensitivity, good pedagogy, excellent communication skills and most of all thinking outside the box with constant innovation in online tutoring technology. There is always plenty to learn though so this maturity process has only really just started.

A community of EdTech maths teachers and tutors.

I also started teaching adult students this year on a regular basis. I always believed that maths can be learnt at any age and I now have my own proof of this from various case studies. I really look forward to developing more into an online maths tutor for adults as well.

BitPaper and TheWayUp! game

Work hasn’t been all tutoring though, I continued to keep pace with the rapid new developments and features being rolled out by BitPaper, the digital interactive paper I use for my tutoring. My job in the team has been to communicate, interact and get feedback from an online community of tutors.

Tutoring using BitPaper

TheWayUp! was another project this year that I was involved in. This required an entirely new way of thinking about digital PR. Much more planned, strategic and with a team involved. I learnt a ton about digital PR.

Both BitPaper and TheWayUp! game meant I was working with a group of people in a team. This has been really refreshing to me as a solo tutor.

Time to relax

My workload is the lowest now with just 2hrs of tutoring daily and all of Saturdays and Sundays off. I’ve been catching up with friends, going on day outs with family, doing a lot more music, more CPD courses and ticking away with reading books too. As I relax I can also ponder on some of the longer term things I want to do in life. And the summer is now the perfect opportunity for it all.

Relaxing at Hyde Park with tutor colleagues.

Independent Tutors Meetup – 8 July 2017 London

After a break we are back for another meet-up! The independent tutors community in the UK is slowly growing to become a force in its own right and gaining recognition. Working for yourself as an independent tutor can be a lonely job and even if you put all your effort into providing the best possible service, it is always invaluable to know how others manage the teaching and business part of their tutoring.

Tutors meetup Hyde Park London

Tutors meetup Hyde Park London

This is open to all tutors, independent or tutoring for an agency. The Serpentine Cafe is in a great location inside the vast expanse of green in Hyde Park next to a lake. There’s food, drinks and snacks available at the cafe. We usually sit on the grass or at one of the benches on the outdoor area of the cafe. Nearest tube stations are Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge and Marble Arch.

Looking forward to meeting you and feel free to contact me if you want more info or to let me know you are coming 🙂

Independent Tutors Social – 25 March 2017 London

Tutoring as an independent tutor can often be a lonely job, yet there’s some excellent educators there who could do with putting their minds together to share ideas on resources, teaching styles, business and many other things. I have got some work through referrals from other tutors by meeting them in person or online. There’s a small and growing community of us now.

London Tutors Meetup

London Tutors Meetup

This is open to all tutors, if you are with an agency, or fully independent and there’s no need to members of any professional bodies either. The Larrik does both drinks and excellent snacks, or modern pub food with a twist. Food is served until 10pm. The Larrik pub is easily accessible via public transport and is close to Edgware Road, Paddington, Baker Street and Marble Arch stations.

Looking forward to meeting you and feel free to contact me if you want to let me know you are coming 🙂

Independent Tutors Drinks – 21 Jan 2017 London

Being an independent tutor can often be lonely business, but there’s so much potential from many of us professional tutors to meet and learn from each other. So come out and meet some new work colleagues, exchange stories, tutoring tips, teaching resources and even pass on referrals. I have got some work through referrals from other tutors by meeting them in person or online. There’s a small community of us that like to meet, socialise and discuss this special type of private teaching!

  • Date : Saturday 21 January 2017
  • Venue : The Larrik Pub32 Crawford Place, Marylebone London W1H 5NN
  • Time : 6:00pm onwards

London Private Tutors Meet up

Tutors meet-up in London.

This is an event open to all tutors, whether or not you are with an agency or registered with any other membership bodies. For those who stay on later, there’s excellent food at The Larrik Pub, which is a spacious gastro pub will a great relaxed atmosphere. The Larrik pub is easily accessible via public transport and is close to Edgware Road, Paddington, Baker Street and Marble Arch stations.

Looking forward to meeting you and feel free to contact me if you want to let me know you are coming 🙂

Independent Tutors Drinks – 19 November 2016 London

The November installment of our tutor social is here! Being an independent tutor can often be lonely business, so come out and meet some new work colleagues, exchange stories, tutoring tips, teaching resources and even pass on referrals. I have got some work through referrals from other tutors, this alone is invaluable.

  • Date : Saturday 19 November 2016
  • Venue : Tom Cribb Pub36 Panton Street, London SW1Y 4EA
  • Time : 6:00pm onwards

London Tutors Michael Dewar Atul Rana

London Tutors Meet-up

For those who stay on later, there’s excellent food at The Comedy Pub next doors. Tom Cribb pub is easily accessible via public transport and is very close to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square tube stations in the heart of London. Looking forward to meeting you 🙂