You've completed your economics degree, having mastered economic theory, become an expert in international economics and you can talk engagingly about the factors that drive our economy in Australia.

While you could join other economists and start growing your career in management or a government role, what you'd really love to do is help undergraduate students by becoming an economics teacher, at least on a part time basis.

For a tutor to build their client base of students, they need to develop a solid reputation. This is based on a number of key factors, including:

  • subject knowledge and course content
  • teaching experience and skills
  • teaching strategies
  • personal attributes.

Above all, if you're going to teach economics, you have to understand how to study economics — this means you have to spend time learning how your students learn.

Not every student who was a high achiever is able to automatically become a successful teacher or tutor, regardless of their knowledge or subject experience.

Careful planning of each economics lesson is key. A successful tutor, with happy students, spends time putting together lesson plans that help students meet their goals, whether it's passing an exam or deconstructing international economics policy for an essay.

How does an economics tutor create an amazing lesson plan?

Keep reading because we're going to share some of the best tips from successful tutors.

Find out how to get started as a freelance economics teacher or tutor.

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Know Your Students

What is the ratio of male to female enrolments in an economics degree?
Even today, more males than females pursue a professional career as economists | Source: Pixabay - Varunkul01

If you've ever done any public speaking, you will know that your subject and content need to target your audience. Teaching is the same. For your teaching to be effective, you need to know your students — their learning style, background knowledge and experience, their needs and their goals.

Your students may range from a professional needing help to study for an exam to a university undergraduate or even a retiree who wants to learn more about the international economic situation. A tutor cannot use the same lesson and teach every student the same way.

The approach you take, the content you include, the skills you aim to develop — everything must be tailored to suit the individual student.

Remember that it's not only the lessons and activities you have to prepare but you may also need to include time to research and improve your own background knowledge. For example, if you are teaching a student from another country, you really need to understand that country's economic situation in order to provide relevant examples and comparisons.

Beginning work as an economics teacher in the online environment, in particular, may mean broadening your own knowledge first.

Find more tutoring jobs Brisbane here on Superprof.

What is Your Teaching Style?

Let's be honest — economics can be an incredibly dull and dry subject. However, the right teacher can bring life to economics study with interesting analogies and case studies that allow students to understand and connect with the content.

One bonus to being an economics teacher, rather than a tutor of mathematics, is that economics is an elective subject rather than a compulsory one, like mathematics. This means your students will have chosen to study economics — they already have a goal in mind and are motivated to learn, unlike mathematics, which they may detest and resent because they have to study it.

When you receive an enquiry from a potential student, the very first question you should ask is: Why do you want to study economics?

The answers given will vary greatly but all will give you insight as to the goals of the student and clues as to the types of activities they will engage in.

There's a high likelihood of most answers, however, pertaining to some sort of career goal. In this case, it is a good idea to dig a little deeper — is the student interested in business, management, accounting, commerce or even an international career?

While your methodology and lesson plans may differ for each of your students, your pedagogy should be fundamentally consistent.

As a teacher or tutor, you should always work towards being:

  • friendly and engaging — building rapport with your student is key to their learning success
  • willing to learn and knowledgeable — as a tutor, you are not expected to be the font of all knowledge, but you are expected to know where to find answers
  • tolerant — impatient teachers contribute nothing to the learning success of their students; encourage all questions and explain content multiple times in different ways if your students need you to
  • understanding and kind — you never truly know what is going on for your student, always try to understand where they are coming from.

At the end of the day, it is your passion and love of the subject of economics that will motivate your students.

So, how is all of this related to creating lesson plans?

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How do you teach economics?
Your economics courses are as much about how to study economics as they are about specific content | Source: Pixabay - Sanu A S

Resources for Teaching Economics: Past Exams, Rich Tasks and Lesson Planning

There are copious resources a savvy economics teacher can source, or create, to add to their teaching arsenal and motivate their students. Most of these are available online or can be created using online tools, such as the Google suite of online education apps.

Two important resources to remember when teaching economics are past exams and rich tasks.

Using past exams

When teaching economics, past exams give great insight regarding current content and the types of questions that are asked — particularly in the practical application section of the exam. A teacher can access an exam online from previous years, and practice exams are often also posted online for students.

Rich tasks

A rich task is defined as an activity that allows students to apply different content from their subject of study in a real-life or practical scenario. Rich tasks synthesise learning and develop skills in its application. A well-structured rich task not only motivates the student and gives them a purpose for learning, but allows the teacher to assess the deeper understanding obtained by their student.

Lesson plans

A well-written lesson plan is just like a detailed roadmap — it shows a direct path to your destination, but also allows you to be flexible and veer off (temporarily) on a related tangent.

The most important part of a lesson plan is how you break down your time. This can be tricky at first, as teachers can find it hard to guess how long students will take to learn a new concept or complete an activity — but with consistent practice and experience, you will nail this.

There is a fine line between under-planning and over-planning. Teachers need to weigh up the need to cover content with the importance of student-led study.

So, let's say your tutoring session is scheduled for 50 minutes. Here's a rough overview of what it may look like.

  • Warm-up (5 mins)

A brief greeting and short discussion with the student about a current event relevant to the particular subject at hand.

  • New content (10 mins)

Introduce the focus topic for the session. This will involve new information, either related to your warm-up discussion or the next step in the concepts discussed in the previous session.

While teachers tend to do most of the talking in this section — its purpose is teaching new content — it is important to engage the student by allowing them to ask questions, paraphrase what they understand or make personal connections to the new content.

  • Application (15 mins)

At this point, you will pause to allow for extra questions before asking the student to apply the new knowledge in a practical activity. This may involve analysis of a graph or a current event with an international or economic lens.

The activity should be short but relevant and be something you can guide or help the student achieve. If you work with small groups, the activity should be designed to be collaborative.

  • Independent work (15 mins)

Your student (or group of students) will work on their own in this section, completing a set activity that allows them to further develop their skills in a practical way. The tutor may answer questions but generally, the student should be completing the work on their own.

  • Closure (5 mins)

This is your opportunity to recap the main skills and concepts of the lesson and preview the next lesson. Students may also ask any clarifying questions at this time.

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What should all economics lessons include?
Allow time for student questions and practical skills development | Source: Pixabay - Free-Photos

Remember, You're Teaching Students How to Study Economics

Part of learning and study involves 'learning how to learn'. Teachers can model this by using a range of resources in their teaching — charts, graphs, podcasts, news items — rather than relying on a textbook. If students know how to learn from the resources around them, and apply their knowledge and experience to everyday items, their learning will be richer.

A few things to remember as you embark on your new career as an economics teacher or freelance tutor:

  • plan your lessons
  • use a range of resources (many can be found online)
  • be flexible while sticking to the lesson content and objectives
  • listen to your students
  • trust your instincts and teach what you love.

Finally, you are a role model to your students. Practise what you preach.

Find out more about how to price your economics lessons.

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Kellie

Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.