What happens when you have a major exam or assignment looming in your geography unit?
It doesn't matter if you're in Year 10, Year 12 or working towards a university degree with geography as your major — you'll want to put your learning to work and achieve the best possible results.
In fact, you will even possibly be considering hiring a geography teacher or tutor to give you some study pointers and to help you master the skills you need.
While you will want a tutor who knows the geography curriculum content, you really do need to find the right tutor for you. But, what does this mean exactly?
Not only will a good geography teacher or tutor have testimonials from past students, they should also:
- have access to the resources needed to maximise your learning
- understand and work with your individual learning style
- be experienced and have working knowledge about the unit of work you are undertaking, or the exam you are facing.
It also goes without saying that your geography lessons with your chosen tutor should be affordable.
Where do you find tutors who meet your requirements and what does a good tutor look like?
What Does Geography Tutoring Involve?
The days of the good old-fashioned education style of geography lessons being all about memorisation — continents, countries and capitals — are but a distant memory. Geography studies today involve so much more.
There are two main categories of geography: human geography and physical geography. Your courses, exams and assignments will ask you to address both of these. By association, this means that your teacher or tutor must be able to deal with both facets.
There is nothing wrong with asking a potential geography teacher to show you their own achievements in relevant geographic courses of study.
Tutors generally do not have to abide by specific rules about qualifications and experience but there is nothing wrong with asking — the last thing you want to discover is that your tutor is only one semester ahead of you, or has no formal study experience at or beyond your current level.
A minimum of one year ahead of their students is a desirable requirement of a tutor. This means that if you're in Year 11, a Year 12 student could tutor you, or if you're nearing the final Year 12 exam in your studies, a first year university student, who is undertaking a geography degree, could work with you one-on-one.
There's no reason why you yourself can't tutor younger students.
Costing is essential. Were you aware that one in seven school students across Australia will be, at some point, in need of a tutor? We're talking about a billion-dollar industry right here.
If you want a professional service, you'll have to be prepared to pay for it. This, however, does not mean all geography tutors are going to set you back hundreds of dollars a month. Sure, the tutors who have a high level of experience and high distinction or honours results are likely to charge more, but there are many exceptional tutors out there with less experience and lower qualifications who are just as effective.
The key is to find the right tutor at the right price for your education needs. Start by considering the following variables:
- Academic level: students at a high level, such as second year of university, should be expecting to pay more than a Year 10 student.
- Delivery: teaching can happen online, which is often cheaper, or face-to face. (Remember, you may need to allow for travel costs — either yours or those of your teacher.) Group lessons are also an economical option.
- Frequency: during assessment periods, you may require more than one lesson a week but only need fortnightly lessons at other times.
- Goals: short term requirements, such as exam preparation, may cost more than the fees for a student who requires ongoing homework help throughout the year.
- Location: the larger the city, the more people will be offering geography lessons, so hourly lesson costs may be cheaper because of competition. However, costs of living are higher in city areas, and this is often factored in.
- Student age: younger students have shorter attention spans, which means shorter lessons.
What about Students with Learning Difficulties?
Don't let it stop you. It has never held me back.
~ Daniel Radcliffe ~
Radcliffe has dyspraxia; this and other learning difficulties, including dyslexia, dyscalculia, autism, ADHD and a host of other physical and social difficulties, can make school study difficult for people who have them.
It's estimated that around 4 per cent of students in Australia have a learning difficulty. Often, these students will be looking to access resources, which include private teaching, to help them achieve success in their learning.
This is where relevant career qualifications or prior experience are essential. The ability to choose appropriate activities and access useful resources is key, particularly when it comes to practical geography skills. Asking questions is of high importance when you're seeking to engage someone to help you study.
It can be tricky to work out whether the fees you've been quoted are reasonable, so it's important to think critically about the benefits and cost of geography tuition.
How to Find a Geography Tutor
Armed with these considerations, you can begin your search for the right tutor.
The tutoring business in Australia is growing rapidly, as mentioned, so it's getting easier and easier to find people to help you with all sorts of things, including geography.
Advertising is easier for tutors as well. These days, online or digital advertising through social media is as easy as just adding a link to your contact details on a Facebook or Gumtree post. Of course, the 'old style' ways of advertising still work — letterbox drops and fliers posted on noticeboards in the shopping centre, library, primary or high school foyers or in the university canteen.
However, what if you'd like to see feedback from past students? These forms of advertising rarely contain testimonials, and if they do, how do you know they're legitimate?
Often, a school, particularly high school, will run a homework club once a week with teachers on hand to help students with all lesson and unit activities and homework. Occasionally, a teacher may also be happy to offer one-on-one tutoring outside of school hours.
Many students also find out about tutors through word-of-mouth, that is, talking to neighbours, friends or other students. In this way, you can find out more about the tutor from people you know personally.
You might also want advice about different geography courses or degree level studies. Many tutors can help with this too.
If you decide to enrol with a tutoring school or agency, you can be assured that all their teachers will have the appropriate qualifications and experience. There are a couple of potential drawbacks though:
- You may not have a choice about which teacher you have to work with.
- You will probably be responsible for travelling to the company facility.
- There is not as much flexibility in the timetable.
- Sometimes the curriculum is pre-determined.
- Cost is often more than an independent tutor, to cover business expenses.
There are so many great reasons to explore the world of geography. It would be a shame to miss out because you can't find a teacher — but there are other options to explore.
Geography Lessons Online
Online learning is not the next big thing, it's the now big thing.
These days, you can learn anything online — from a YouTube or Facebook link through to intensive lessons with online teachers.
Online, you may find a lot of resources and 'teaching' offered for free — take these free offers and vet them carefully to ensure they are the quality you need. Free does not mean bad but, as with everything, caution is advised.
Learning online from qualified and experienced geography teachers can be just as effective as a face-to-face lesson. And, it's often cheaper.
The essential resources for an online lesson are:
- microphone headset
- stable internet connection.
You will find many a tutoring school or agency now offer online lessons and courses, however, as with the face-to-face classroom, each lesson will be more expensive due to business costs.
Alternatively, tutoring platforms such as Superprof act as an online gateway to help teachers and students connect and independently reach an agreement regarding tutoring services.
When it comes to geography teachers, Superprof lists a number of people across Australia who offer this teaching area. On each tutor's online profile, you'll find the teacher's:
- area of teaching expertise
- levels they teach (from primary school to high school and university degree level)
- mode of delivery
- testimonials by past students.
The beauty of the online learning environment is that you and your teacher do not need to be in the same city, let alone the same states or even the same country!
Whether you're studying for a postgraduate degree in geographic science, an advanced unit in geography for Year 12 or you're in high school or a primary school student needing help with basic geographic concepts, there's a tutor for everyone if you know where to look and what to look for.
And, searching for the right teacher is time well spent because tutoring can be a considerable investment of both your tutor's and your money and time.
Before you reach the end of your school days, however, it's good to know how many career options there are for people with a degree in geography, and also alternative options for postgraduate work and internships within the geography field.