Supporting families near and far
“Thank you for everything you have done. We've loved some of your imaginative teaching ideas.”
Mr & Mrs D., 2012
Mr P., 2021
Video calling is available using Skype, Zoom, Facetime or WhatsApp. For English, we often use an online word processing document, which allows us both to type on the same piece of work simultaneously. For Maths, we use the whiteboard on Zoom to communicate ideas and workings. It is helpful if you have a tablet for this because the touchscreen is invaluable. Often pupils have two devices running in parallel to get the best tutoring experience! Prior to our first session, we can have a free training session to get used to the technology and how it works.
Resources needed and how it works
During the COVID pandemic, all lessons were forced online. Like many businesses, we found the online method worked unexpectedly well, offering new opportunities and ways of communicating and recording ideas which we had not considered before. Now, online learning is here to stay, allowing parents the choice of home visits or computer based learning. It also means that I am now tutoring families as far away as Kent!
Communication is key
Before the lesson, I communicate with parents via text message and email to organise the date or confirm the session, and to send through any resources needed for the lesson. These resources are usually sent 24-48 hours before the session to allow you time to print out anything needed and to check you can open the documents appropriately. Many parents ask me to cc the child in too, so they can access links and resources directly themselves. Payment for the session is made online 24 hours before the lesson.
When we begin, some parents like to stay around for the first couple of minutes to check the pupil has everything and all the technology is working well. After that, just keep your phone nearby and I'll text you if there's any problem.
After the session, some parents like to come to the screen to get some feedback. If not, I'll send you an email or a text within 24 hours to update you with how things went. If you would prefer a phone call (or if I think a phone call would be better), we can arrange that.
Some benefits of online learning
Children learn new skills such as touch typing.
Children learn to communicate better orally because they sometimes need to describe what they are doing or where they are up to.
Some children are better engaged than face-to-face purely because there's technology involved. This seems to be the case for teenagers particularly.
If children are receiving the emails, I find they take more ownership over their learning and print out resources themselves etc. In fact, I get emails back from some pupils where they feedback on what we did, show me completed work or ask for a particular topic for next time. They are really increasing their independence.
By looking at and working on the same document, both when writing and doing maths on the whiteboard, we can working quickly and efficiently - far better than passing books and bits of paper to each other.
“Thanks for all your fantastic tutoring. We
are very grateful to have you as a tutor.”
Some things to be aware of
If internet connection is unstable, we may have to revert to a phone call for the audio but the online documents tend to keep on working. I rarely get to this stage but it has happened.
I sometimes ask pupils to keep their phones with them because sending WhatsApp photos of work (particularly graphs and diagrams) can be really helpful. However, I have seen some pupils get distracted by their phones, so if we don't specifically need them, it's best to leave them in another room!
When flicking between Skype and webpages, some children struggle if there are lots of other windows open. Younger ones can find it difficult to navigate around the computer and older ones might get distracted by YouTube or whatever is there. It really helps if you can keep the number of windows to a minimum.