So you're on the path to become a tutor! First, read up on our tips for new tutors.

No matter what level your student is at, your essential job as a tutor is to guide them to progress and succeed in their area of study.

You may be asked to tutor someone who has just picked up an instrument for the first time, or you might be tutoring a student who is aiming to ace their exams and needs support with their revision.

But what is a private tutor, exactly? And what are the essential qualities all tutors should possess?

In this article, you'll find everything you should know regarding tutoring jobs, a list of essential skills all tutors should brush up on, how to adapt your private tutoring sessions for individualized training and any specific qualifications for tutor need to hold. Read on for all our best tutoring tips!

Private Tutoring: Adapting Your Lessons For Student Success

The essential skill all good tutor should hold is adaptability. 

As a tutor, you'll need to be skilled at structuring your lessons on the fly to accommodate each individual student's needs.

There is merit to having a solid lesson plan prepared to get the most out of each lesson. But don't get stuck in a rigid lesson plan if it clearly isn't working for that particular student. 

It can be helpful to think of your lesson plan in blocks, that you can change around depending on your student's learning style.

Adapting your explanations and teaching method is an art, and it's what makes the demand for one-on-one tutoring so high - because you can tailor your lessons to benefit your student in a way a classroom teacher simply cannot.

Get one-on-one tutoring jobs Melbourne here.

Adapt your teaching style for each of you tutoring jobs
The best private tutors adapt their lessons to their students' needs. Source: Twenty20

Every one of your pupils has their own individual needs, and it's your job to play to their strengths by creating personalized, and thus very effective, programme. 

For example, if they don't understand the instructions in a particular exercise or math problem, it's up to you to pose the question in a different way so that the student can understand.

Or perhaps they find a whole topic or module difficult. In this case, you need to detect the source of their confusion and work around the problem using a creative method.

Adaptability will help keep your students engaged and guide them towards success.

What are the benefits of private tutoring?

A strong student/teacher dynamic based on trust and mutual respect is the key to improving academic performance.

Demand for private tuition is on the rise as the benefits of one-on-one tutoring become more well-known.

As a private tutor, part of your service involves developing a strong bond with your students.

The relationship you have with your student is incredibly important, if not fundamental to improving their academic performance.

Check out one-on-one tutoring jobs Brisbane here.

Develop a strong bond to maximize student success
The tutor/tutee relationship is critical to your success as a private tutor. Source: Visualhunt

Establishing healthy communication and mutual trust with your student will help them own their progress.

The student needs to feel they can talk to you honestly - especially about areas where they may be struggling academically, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. You can use this information to get the best out of them by adapting to their individual needs

Are you an established tutor interested in moving into online tutoring?

Succeed as a private tutor with Cognitive Behavioural Coaching

Cognitive behavioural coaching (CBC) focuses on helping the student unlearn certain behaviour or perceptions that hold up their progress. You can implement this process to help alter students' negative perceptions of themselves and create a positive foundation for learning productively.

So how can you use CBC in your tutoring jobs?

A private tutor's bread and butter are students who are falling behind or struggling in class. This often contributes to negative self-image and a lack of self-confidence in their own potential.

Negative self-talk gets in the way of succeeding in class. For example, if a student thinks something like, "I'm terrible at math, I'll never do well, there's no point trying", this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When CBC is implemented in the classroom, studies show that awareness of this negative self-talk can improve participation by reducing anxiety.

You can help a student get in touch with their own capabilities and academic potential by deconstructing this damaging mindset.

Here are our tutoring tips on how to empower a student through CBC:

  • First, put yourself in their shoes; what areas are they struggling with and why? Are there barriers at school or at home to completing their homework or feeling engaged in class?
  • Don't spoon-feed your student answers - guide the student by giving them enough information to answer a question for themselves - this is also known as the Socratic method. Figuring things out for themselves does great things for their self-esteem.
  • Show them strategies for learning and memorization, that they can apply to any topic. These strategies could include rhymes, mnemonics and/or pictograms.
  • Make sure you give lots of praise to students who show improvement. Be specific with your praise and highlight their hard work overcoming obstacles.

Do I need any qualifications to become a tutor?

Private tutors do not necessarily need any specific qualifications, training or teaching certificates. Tutors can be classroom teachers picking up extra work, but they could also be university students, full-time workers, retirees... tutoring is for everyone!

Check Superprof for available tutoring jobs Sydney.

You don't need any specific qualifications to take on tutoring jobs.
Anyone can become a tutor!

However, if you aren't working for a tutoring centre or tutoring company, you must register yourself as self-employed.

Whether you want to become a tutor in languages, music, or the hard sciences like Maths and Chemistry, the rule of thumb for home tuition is that you should be studying for a relevant degree in your tutoring subject.

University students are great candidates for tutoring jobs because they are still part of the education system and know entrance exams inside out. University study schedules are usually flexible enough to fit around teaching a few private classes.

If you're in higher education, chances are you passed a few HSC or VCE subjects, and probably did well too! Think of your two best Year 12 subjects. They will also have insider advice on how to apply for university programs.

Your personal experience will enhance your tutoring jobs

Everyone comes into a job with a list of paper qualifications, but equally important is your personal attributes. These are the personality traits that make you a successful home tutor.

You'll be surprised how many different life experiences from inside and outside the workplace or classroom will come in handy when you start mentoring or tutoring.

These experiences could include communicating clearly with clients at work, understanding the importance of self-reliance as an entrepreneur, or competing in a sporting team and knowing how to motivate your teammates. 

What are your best personal qualities that could benefit your students? Determination? Patience? Independence? Taking pride in your hard work?

Private tutoring: how to choose a subject 

When choosing a subject to tutor, you should consider your skill set, as well as demand for that subject in your local area. Most importantly, you must be passionate about that area of study. 

If you are studying for a Bachelor in Physics, you might be a great fit to guide students through their VCE maths exams. However, if you only ever achieved Grade 5 in the AMEB guitar syllabus, you might want to think twice about preparing a student for their Grade 8 Classical Guitar exam and concentrate on teaching beginner guitarists instead.

Assist students with their guitar skills
Have you considered teaching guitar privately?

Your skill level in a particular subject will also determine your tuition prices.

Whether you are qualified to teach a particular student is ultimately up to you. However, your job is to provide the student with the best tuition possible and you should turn down any jobs where the student is at a more advanced level than you're comfortable teaching.

Whether you are a writing tutor, French tutor or biology tutor, go forth and find students! Just ensure you are teaching at a level where your student can truly benefit from your lessons.

Tutoring Tips: the many hats of a private tutor

Private tutors wear many hats when teaching their students. Let's look at a few of them...

Firstly: The Educator

In-home tutoring to provide educational support goes back hundreds, if not thousands of years. There are historical accounts of private tutors in Medieval England and even as far back as Ancient Greece! Originally, private tuition was only available to children of the wealthy aristocracy, teaching reading and writing individually or in small family groups.

Poorer children had a form of tutoring - learning their family trade from a parent or becoming the apprentice of another tradesperson.

The essence of tutoring remains the same today: tutors are essentially educators who transfer knowledge and skills to their tutees.

More recently: The Coach

Tutors today often need to possess a skill set that overlaps a lot with coaching.

Coaching students academically means supporting your students to put the skills you teach them into practice with the end goal of full mastery.

Another thing tutoring has in common with coaching is helping student rehearse for high-pressure situations and achieve peak performance. This could mean helping them learn the format of a particular exam, practising test preparation, showing your working on a Math test to gain marks, or how to write a timed essay.

Coaches also pay attention to their mentee's mental wellbeing and help to grow their self-esteem. This gives students the best chances of success

What is a private tutor?

Tutors specialise in one particular subject (ie. Spanish, Physics, ESL) or perhaps they cover a specific field (hard sciences, classical studies, brass instruments).

Tutors come from all walks of life - many are still students themselves undertaking high education. They may be entrepreneurs, business people or certified classroom teachers picking up more work.

Tutors don't just repeat facts or spoon-feed information to students. The best tutors think laterally and develop creative learning strategies to meet each individual student's needs. Great tutors will play to their students' strengths and coach them to help establish good work habits and stress-management for exams. A good tutor will have a ripple effect throughout a student's life - a student can take everything they've learned from their tutor beyond their exams and into the world of work. 

So tutor's don't teach students raw content - they teach a student how to learn and think independently.

Private tutors may provide different types of lessons depending on the context. They may provide...

  • Academic support: Here the tutor supports a student with general academic skills that could apply to a range of subjects, such as essay-writing or exam revision
  • Homework help: in this role, the tutor will check a student's homework directly and help them understand the question and work through any challenges or difficulties.
  • Private lessons: This is an umbrella term and could refer to helping your student in a particular school subject, or you could be teaching them a new subject that doesn't appear on the school syllabus (ie. piano lessons or Mandarin lessons that are not offered at their school)

How to price yourself as a private tutor

Your rates as a tutor depends on a range of factors:

  • Your subject expertise: Do you hold a TOEFL qualification for teaching English As A Second Language? Are you an undergrad or masters student? Are you bilingual and want to teach your native tongue?
  • Your student's level: how old is your student? Will they be sitting exams?
  • Lesson length: will you be tutoring for half an hour or a whole afternoon? Keep in mind that younger students may not be able to concentrate for longer than 45 minutes.
  • Your teaching experience: Have you ever taught before? Is this your first job as a private tutor? Can you offer references?
  • The subject at hand: generally, teaching specialized subjects will earn you more per hour than general subjects such as Maths or English
  • Location: tuition rates are always higher in affluent urban centres such as Sydney or Canberra. If your student lives some distance from you, you may need to add a travel fee. Online tutoring rates are generally lower. You can read more about finding the right place to tutor here.
  • Your business model: if you work in a tutoring agency or tutoring centre, they will set your rates. However, if you get into private tutoring independently, you set your own prices. When setting your rates, do some research on what tutors with a similar experience level in your subject are charging to give you an idea of what you can earn. Find out more about how to market yourself as a tutor.
Your private tutoring rates will vary
Calculate your rates as a private tutor. Source: Pixabay

Tutoring rates vary wildly in Australia, with high-school or undergraduate students charging between $30-$40 per hour, whilst specialized tutors with years of experience may charge up to $85

In summary:

  • A good tutor should be adaptable. You can support your student regardless of their situation or learning style
  • A good tutor will respect their student and establish a dynamic based on mutual trust and respect
  • A good tutor can motivate their student and tackle their self-doubts by using cognitive behavioural coaching
  • You don't need any formal teaching certificates, just the right amount of experience in your subject area
  • Your tutoring rates will vary depending on the subject, your location and your level of experience

Hopefully, you'll come away with a few tutoring tips to improve your teaching and stronger sense of your role as a private tutor.

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Erin is an Australian musician, writer and francophile living in France.