It has been a good 3 months since I posted a blog post about how my tutoring is going. To me the tutoring year ends in mid to late June when I am finishing off with the very last students of the year. I gather my thoughts then and sum up the academic year like I did for the 2015-2016 year.
But this summer I wasn’t able to post that summary. In July I was given notice to move out of my flat in central London so I had a frantic month of looking for a new place and packing. So now is a good time to reflect on all of 2017 covering the two academic years and everything in between.
On 22 November 2016 I attended The Profs Christmas party and #christmaths2016 on the same evening. Attending both these events set the scene up for me in 2017 like I would never have anticipated at the time.
Online tutoring – Here comes the world
I want to see some of that Californian sunshine, can you give me a tour of what it’s like around where you live?
The last student of my day was a 7pm one in San Francisco. It was still the morning for her and she was in good chirpy spirits. On a tall building in that city she showed me the view of San Francisco, a vast expanse soaked with glorious morning sunshine. It was cold and dark in London and somehow the bright vivid sunshine, even via camera really felt enlivening. Online tutoring really amazes when I connect to far flung reaches of the world in real time. I still can’t believe it sometimes! This year I have added even more exotic locations to my overseas tutoring. Indonesia, St. Kitts island, India and Bermuda come to mind straightaway.
The decision to go all online and cut out face to face tutoring was a real business gamble and in April this year I got proof that it well and truly paid off. With Dyscalculia and IB I am heading towards a more international and borderless type of tutoring.
This year has seen me take on a lot more Dyscalculia students. I have now got two years of experience in this very special field. It turns out to be a really complex area of tutoring and I have learnt to treat it very differently to tutoring any other subject. The Dyscalculia spectrum is very wide and yet it has such little public awareness as a word.
It is incredibly rewarding to tutor it as students make progress and do things they never previously thought was possible. I have invested a lot in learning about this more and more ; buying books, manipulatives, emailing the known experts, asking one of them to be my mentor and attending any training that I can afford to attend. To make my online tutoring even better I have invested in a document camera. I remain committed to tutoring for Dyscalculia and will be blogging specially on this in the coming months.
Tutoring younger children
Another big change this year is that I have started tutoring children as young as 9. Previously I would rarely tutor children younger than 12. But I felt I could make a big difference to children at a younger age and I wanted to learn how younger children learn, especially online.
It has been a really rewarding experience tutoring maths at that age and level. I can feel it is already making me a much better tutor and person. Younger children really love the vivid colours of BitPaper and they are so comfortable with technology online too.
BitPaper and The Profs
I don’t think anyone following me on any form of social media can escape my enthusiasm for BitPaper. Neither could BitPaper, so they recently added me to their team and I now also work for them. BitPaper is virtual interactive paper. I can write paragraphs on BitPaper but will save that for when I am blogging for them.
Are you The Profs guy as well? Ahhh Richard has the same surname as you, that makes sense now!
I was chatting to Leo on Facebook messenger in March 2017 about BitPaper. Attending that Profs Christmas party in November 2016 I had met one of the founders of the company Richard. Leo and Richard shared incredible enthusiasm for tutoring communities such as the maths group, the global online tutors group and the empowerment of tutors and the tutoring industry in general. It really is going to be onwards and upwards as I collaborate ever deeper with their projects in 2018.
Tutor communities : Meetups, Facebook and video calls (Indie Tutors)
There was no independent community of tutors back in early 2016. By mid 2016 they exploded into existence and connected previously alone and isolated tutors for the for the time ever in history. I was given the Maths Tutors UK Facebook group to run in August 2016 and in 2017 it has spun off several groups including the two official sister groups Science Tutors UK and English Tutors UK.
Networking and bringing people together has always been my thing and with these groups I got a lot more active on tutor meetups. I arranged more regular meetups in 2017, and the summer Hyde Park ones were a real hit. The one on this photo has us listening to legendary 80s band Tears for Fears playing literally next to us while we talk tutoring, bless.
Facebook has its limitations in terms of CPD and networking. And real life meetups aren’t practical for everyone purely due to geography. I found an elegant solution around this inspired by online tutoring. Weekly online meetings on group video calls! For all of 2017 me and my good friend Henry Dingle have been running highly focused one hour weekly video calls for tutors based on various tutoring issues. We have started up Indie Tutors to facilitate this more and as we get even more focused we really hope to help the tutoring industry in ways that has never happened before.
Maths training workshops and CPD
Thanks to the tutoring communities and the #christmaths2016 I attended late last year I found an incredible community of maths teacher training in the UK. Many tutors also teach at schools and I found a teaching community on twitter. The biggest discovery for me has to be La Salle Education. A really incredible maths training company.
I have attended two of their conferences and blogged about #mathsconf10 (my first ever maths conference) and #mathsconf13. I also attended two of their workshops in London. I have learnt so much from that community about teaching maths.
I got more CPD in 2017 than in the combined 10 years of solo tutoring I did before. And I have found a really supportive community of people in maths education in the UK. I plan to attend more events and encourage tutors to go to these too.
Other golden moments of 2017
I was awarded The Profs online tutors of 2017 award at their summer party. This came as a surprise to me as they have a few hundred tutors! I now have a physical tutoring award.
I didn’t know these even existed as a previously lonely tutor. I also got featured as a guest blogger on the How to Tutor Online site, and Joanne from the Ultimate Online Support Group awarded me with membership to one of her groups.
When 2017 started I couldn’t have dreamt of so much growth in my own personal tutoring career. And the opportunities bought about by networking with The Profs, various groups on Facebook, tutors I meet in real life, my clients themselves, maths teachers I have met and many others. I can’t wait for what 2018 has in store.