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Love Tutoring Festival Late Night Live Podcast Transcript – Being a Professional Tutor, with Ludo, Jack Simmonds, Nicola Burkinshaw, Amanda Cremona and Richard Ashelford

 

The Qualified Tutor Podcast episode of this conversation went live at 10am BST on Thursday 29th July and you can find it on our Podcast page on the website here, on Spotify here or on any other major podcast platform.

 

[Ludo] – Ludo Millar

 

[Jack] – Jack Simmonds

[Nicola] – Nicola Burkinshaw

[Amanda] – Amanda Cremona

[Richard] – Richard Ashelford

 

[Ludo]

Good evening and welcome to our third Late Night Live Podcast with me, your host, Ludo Millar, and our guests tonight, Jack Simmonds, Nicola Burkinshaw, Amanda Cremona and Richard Ashelford. These four tutors we’ve brought together this evening to discuss the topic of being a professional tutor. Something that has been a long-term value of Qualified Tutor, is the idea that tutors are a professional industry and that along with that title comes many aspects of tutoring. And some of those, we are going to get into tonight. Some of those we’re not gonna have time for and some of those we’re gonna leave you thinking about this evening.

So, Jack Simmonds is a tutor and a specialist educator for Nudge Education and has, many of you will know him from the Qualified Tutor Community. He’s been leading the facilitation for our training programmes for a long while now, so we’re very delighted to have Jack with us. Nicola Burkinshaw is an English and history tutor and her website, if you’d like to find out more about her after this evening is just that: www.englishandhistorytutor.com. So, Nicola is a real expert of online tutoring and we’re gonna be tapping into a little bit of that this evening. Amanda Cremona has featured on one of these Late Night Live Podcasts already. She is a wonderful assister of children with dyslexia and is also worked in many schools in her local area, in Bedfordshire as a supply teacher, and as a SEND specialist. Richard Ashelford is one of our oldest Qualified Tutor friends, he’s been there since the very, very beginning. And by oldest I do not mean the age that he is, I mean the time that he has been with us. Our podcast listeners won’t see the Qualified Tutor certificate behind Richard’s head there, but that is a marker of the professional development that Richard has committed to over lockdown. So, we’re going to be learning a little bit more about that this evening.

So, welcome to the four of you. Thank you very much for joining us.

 

[Richard]

Thank you.

 

[Nicola]

Thank you.

 

[Amanda]

Thank you very much for having us.

 

[Ludo]

We’re gonna dive right in to the conversation because that’s quite enough of my voice, we want to hear from you. So, Amanda, I’m gonna start with you on this one and you’ve already answered this one at the Love Tutoring Festival. So your answer should be nice and polished on this one, but, Amanda, what is your ‘why’ as a tutor?

 

[Amanda]

I was actually trying, because I gave this on Monday, I was actually trying to think of a more of my why. But, it’s still does really boil down to helping those that are really struggling, finding out why they’re struggling, finding out why they’re struggling, empowering parents to deal with school for whatever their whatever their children’s problems are. And, as I said on Monday, really, from being self-employed for the last year or so now is, trying to make some kind of change within, you know, the whole community of the dyslexia and SEN field. Bringing awareness and knowledge to people. So that’s my way, my ‘why’ and working with lovely kids. I’ve got some really great students at the minute and, you know, they make it lots of fun too.

 

[Ludo]

Amanda, your why is the way that you do things [LAUGH] so both are great as well. Nicola, can I turn to you next? What is your ‘why’ as a tutor?

 

[Nicola]

I think, last time we spoke about this, I think I said to you that it kind of changes hour by hour and day by day, depending on my mood and what’s happening. But today, my big ‘why’, well my big ‘why’ at the moment is kind of about the pandemic that we’ve all been experiencing and going through and the stresses that that’s put on so many kids, and parents, and families, and schools. And my big ‘why’ at the moment is to get people to stop panicking and thinking about “How am I going to get through this exam?”. How am I going to get through this? How am I going to catch up?! Which is a phrase I don’t allow anyone to use anymore. I don’t talk about catching up. So, my ‘why’ at the moment is all about how to get people just enjoy learning, because learning’s fun, it really is. And if it isn’t, then you’re doing it wrong. And think about progress. Just being better tomorrow than you were today, and that’s it. And everything else will just happen naturally, so that’s my ‘why’ at the moment. Ask me tomorrow, it will be different.

 

[Ludo]

I’m actually gonna ask you at the end of this conversation and maybe in the middle as well. Just to see if there are some changes in your responses. Richard.

 

[Richard]

Yeah. What is my ‘why’? It’s easy to say, well, what motivates any of us to go to work. It’s the pay, isn’t it? It’s the money! But the truth is you don’t do tutoring for money.  The two just don’t mix, and, because there isn’t enough money as an independent, small-time tutor like I am, it’s not big enough to make your fortune. I do it because I enjoy it, I enjoy working with the kids. I like seeing them develop and I’ve been doing it for fifteen years. And, I ain’t gonna stop until somebody says to me, I don’t want you anymore. [LAUGHS] But nobody’s said that yet so I’m gonna carry on for as long as they’ll have me.

 

[Amanda]

Love it.

 

[Ludo]

That’s a very complete answer, very honest answer, Richard.

 

[Richard]

I’m always honest, Ludo.

 

[Ludo]

Yeah. Well, Jack, can we turn to you finally for this question?

 

[Jack]

You can. Yeah, I think I’m gonna echo what most people have already shared, you know? I’m here to make a change. I think that’s really important, but also that change is for me too. You know? Tutoring makes me better, its helps me feel better. So that is definitely a huge factor in my why, for sure.

 

[Ludo]

Okay, brill. Thanks so much, the four of you. There were themes across that but you didn’t come out with the same, the same answer which is brilliant because we can draw from four different perspectives. Which will help keep diversity of these responses nice and strong. So, the title of this podcast is being a professional tutor, and we can’t, I don’t think, progress in this conversation without a little bit more of your ideas and thoughts about what it really means to be a professional tutor as opposed to a non-professional tutor or another kind of tutor. So, Nicola, can I turn to you on this one first? In your eyes, what does it mean to be a professional tutor?

 

[Nicola]

Okay, so this is the question that’s quite hard for me to answer, because, to be perfectly honest, I don’t consider myself to be particularly professional. I put that word professional in the same box as branding and marketing, and things like that. Things that I don’t really want to have anything to do with, but since it’s what I spend about forty hours a week doing, that I suppose, I’ve got to kind of embrace it, whether I like it or not. So, when I’m talking about being professional as a tutor, I am thinking as distinct from teaching. I’m thinking about it as a support to somebody who is already being taught elsewhere. Whether it being home-schooled or at school, and it’s about providing, providing a relationship and a conversation that is guided by my knowledge, by my professional knowledge, by my subject knowledge. And helping someone, again, it’s that thing about progression, moving from where they are to where they want to be. Obviously, I mean, you know, there are so many, so many different strands to tutoring. You know, there are so many things that people want to embrace it as a tutor. Particular areas they’re interested in, for me, I don’t get involved with 11+’s and things like that. I’ve got no interest, it’s not my skillset but I think people who come to me, who sort of, seek me out, come to me for a particular fix, if you like. Or a particular area of development and I think that’s what makes you a professional tutor, when you’ve, when you’ve got, and I hate to say this, when you’ve got your brand. And you know what it is that you can offer that is different, and is unique and is special.

 

[Ludo]

Yeah, I certainly think that part of being a tutor that takes their next steps is in finding that niche. Many tutors will enter the market saying, oh yeah, no, I do everything from, from, you know, from Year 4, you know, Key Stage 2 to GCSE. I can do English, I can do maths, I can do History, art and science. That kind of tutor is a tutor who is trying to spread their net wide and find work quickly. The tutors that we speak to on a day to day basis, the professional tutors we speak to, you know, they have their niche and they’ve begun to find some kind of market share. And, kind of, either in their local area or, kind of, in their online sphere. So, absolutely, kind of great definition there. Richard, was there a moment you felt that you had become a professional tutor?

 

[Richard]

Yeah. I’ve always called myself a private tutor and in fact it says so on my business card. Private tutoring in your own home. But, when I did the Qualified Tutor course last year, I realised that it’s about doing private tutoring job to a professional standard which means that, you know, we’ve got standards and we’ve got to maintain them. And, I took, I’ve been a member of the TTA for quite a few years and when you read the detail on things like the code of conduct and such, it does demand quite a high professional standard. You can’t get away with this job on the back of an envelope, you know? So, I’ve just got a new academic diary. [LAUGH] It starts in September.

 

[Ludo]

Was that one of the criteria?

 

[Richard]

Why would a diary start in September? And it’s the first, the first time that I think that was the first time that I realised that it was a professional job. And so I take the point that Nicola raised, but I do see us as professional people. Even though we’re not doctors or dentists, we don’t earn their kind of money.

 

[Ludo]

Well, certainly doctors and dentists and lawyers have to adhere to minimum professional standards. So, what, you know, whether that’s chicken or egg, certainly that is part of the conversation there, Richard. Amanda, can I turn to your thoughts?

 

[Amanda]

I think for me, where I would say a professional tutor. Mine has morphed into that since going self-employed. I mean. I’ve been doing tutoring for 13, 14 years on and off but it was always, you know, for the school I was working at and the school allowed, because they did actually stop it with school staff, but then I would do that. So I’d maybe have a couple of children on a Saturday, so I’ve always done that but it was just, like, a sideline kind of thing. But then I gave, you know, I gave up my job 18 months ago, just over. And, to do this, and it’s changed and I think I’d be absolutely open that joining Qualified Tutor and doing the qualification, at the same time Richard did, actually. We were on the same cohort, I think, Richard?

 

[Richard]

Yes, yeah.

 

[Amanda]

Has changed, has changed my view. It’s made me find my niche. It’s made me realise, no actually, this is what I’m good at and you guys have probably, a lot, you know, you Ludo particularly, have given me a lot of confidence with that. This is, you know, this is my niche, actually, you know, I have realised that my knowledge on the dyslexia and some of the SEN is more than average. And, so that’s my niche, so I’ve gone into that. And now, you know, all my students are in that kind of realm. And, so, for me, it’s gone from sort of, doing a bit of tutoring just because somebody asked, which is I think, you know, very often some to actually, you know. This is my job and it will be what I make it. You know, and that depends on what the particular agency might want to work with, whether you want to do your own private marketing, you know, and to a point, again, I’ve got a website that, you know, I can be found on. And things like that, so you know, it is my job. And I love it. I love it, I absolutely love the flexibility. I love that, actually, if you think, you know, I need a day off next week, well, you know, not when you’ve got set things but, you know, actually next term I’m not gonna book anybody in on a Friday or whatever, then, you know. That’s what I’m gonna do. But again, you know, that’s all determined on, you know, what price point you’re at, you know, what your need is as an income as well. But, you know, so I can do that.

 

[Richard]

Ludo, can I just.

 

[Amanda]

But to me, it’s just.

 

[Richard]

Sorry, Amanda.

 

[Amanda]

Sorry, but to me, being a professional tutor it’s my main world now if you like. Sorry, Richard.

 

[Richard]

It’s alright, darling. Can I just say that Amanda and I have consulted each other professionally in the last 12 months?

 

[Amanda]

We have, we have.

 

[Richard]

And that was one of the benefits of Qualified Tutor.

 

[Amanda]

Yeah, we have. We’ve done a swap on that. So Richard asked me whether I thought one of his students was maybe dyslexic, and me, because I’ve usually taught younger students and I’m getting into the sort of English GCSE kind of work, but for people that are trying to, kind of, scrape their grade 4, if you like. Because they’re struggling. And so I got an essay and I sent it to Richard and said, you know, what else, kind of, is this good enough kind of thing. Just to give me some kind of measure, so we have, we’ve done, we’ve got there and it’s great on this community to do that.

 

[Richard]

To good effect, as well.

 

[Ludo]

I think you maybe touched on something else there, Amanda, which was, you know, that part of being a professional tutor is having your own website. Which is maybe something that we can touch on a little bit further there. It’s made you, at least, feel like someone on the internet can come to your page and learn more about you. Rather than just being through word of mouth.

 

[Amanda]

Absolutely.

 

[Ludo]

I’m gonna draw on Martina’s question that was, that Martina submitted earlier on in the Community earlier this week. And, Jack, I’m gonna turn to you for this one. And it’s, follows off the theme of what we’ve been talking about, about at what stage you go from being whatever you were before, to a professional tutor. And that question that Martina submitted was, kind of, how did you come to be a professional tutor? And in that, we mean, how long did it take for it to become a full-time income or do you just do what you do alongside a supplementary income.

 

[Jack]

Well, I could spin you a yarn for the rest of the podcast, Ludo, with that question I think. So, I think that is entirely dependent on, you know, your financial circumstances, you know, where you find yourself. So, for anyone who doesn’t really know anything about me, I am, have been an eternal flitter for the last, you know, five, six years. Every year I just relocate to a new place and do something else, but all of those things have kind of had a music and/or educational theme. And, so it was actually Covid that turned me to tutoring. I’ve always taught singing on the side, which, which we never really talk about in terms of tutoring, but, I guess, private singing teaching is that too. So, I ended up needing a job and I saw an advertisement that was a bit like, you know, we need you! Do you think you can handle these, can you, you know, can you be available to be, kind of, caring and loving to the most challenging individuals that the education system can’t handle? And I thought, yeah, that sounds like fun. So I ended up working for Nudge, which, which then led me to Qualified Tutor which actually gave me a huge amount of confidence, you know, in what I already knew. I’m very lucky to have had some very good people, kind of, in my life. One of them is here tonight, Vicki, she’s gonna be really embarrassed but she’s a fantastic teacher and when I was working in school alongside her about teaching and learning. ‘Cause I was the annoying teaching assistant who was always asking questions, why do you do that? What do you do that for? But I think the thing that makes you a professional in anything is whether you are! Which is a stupid thing to say but, if- 

 

[Richard]

Jack’s gone!

 

[Jack]

Oh no! I’ve gone midstream! I don’t know where we got to?

 

[Ludo]

You were saying, Jack …

 

[Nicola]

It was definitely a good point ‘cause you were waving your arms.

 

[Jack]

Oh, I love a wave.

 

[Ludo]

You were just saying that what makes someone a tutor is, you were just about to get onto the analogy with a lawyer.

 

[Jack]

Ah, yes! Okay, so, if you’re a lawyer, or a doctor, or a teacher, you do a qualification that legitimises you as a professional, right? You have that qualification and then you are a professional. You don’t have that as a tutor necessarily, and I’m not advocating for a PGCE for tutors. I don’t think that’s the solution, but what I am saying is by taking care of yourself, in terms of CPD. By, you know, attending courses, by reading books about the things that interest you. By, you know, learning from other specialists about you, you know, I work with a lot of students who come under the SEND label, so by learning about their individual needs, their individual differences and how I can support them, that makes me a professional, because I am actively seeking the information that I need in order to be better at my job. So that was kind of two questions in one.

 

[Ludo]

Yeah, and several others as well. Jack, I don’t know where to go from that answer, but-

 

[Jack]

Sorry, Ludo.

 

[Ludo]

What I will say is that that was a very complete answer and that part of being a professional, as you say, is actively seek to progress and to advance your skills. Which many tutors, and this is not a criticism of them, but many tutors don’t do that because they don’t see tutoring as something that they will continue to do in two months, in four months, in six months, in a year. So, that is probably what separates that kind of, class of tutors, as non-professional tutors, because they’re seeking to do something else in the near, short to mid-term future, and they are probably less likely to take a tutoring qualification. So already, you’re starting to put some parameters on what it means and that’s not the aim of this conversation, is to bracket or pigeonhole different kinds of educators. But I think it’s good, it’s empowering for people who want to be professional tutors to know what that entails to some degree. So, no certainly, certainly a very valid point dressed up in much decoration. But, we’re gonna turn now to this idea of moving away, let’s move from the denomination of a professional tutor. More towards some of the aspects of the day to day life of a professional tutor. And Amanda, I want to start with you on this one. We talk in tutoring a lot about going on a learning journey with your student and that can mean a couple of different things, but if we are to keep that notion in mind, why does going on a learning journey improve the trust and respect that builds good relationships?

 

[Amanda]

I think because, and like I said, I may come at this from a different angle because most of the kids, children I work with are struggling and, you know, they’re not necessarily getting the help they need at school. So, it’s, you know, to me their journey becomes my journey and it starts with finding out where they’re at. And very often, you know, with the type, a lot of the students I deal with, there’s actually this inner, this sort of underlying ripple of stuff that hasn’t come out yet. You know, whether it be that they’re suffering from some kind of anxiety because they’re being asked to read aloud in class and they can’t read properly or, you know, there’s just something that’s there, waiting to come out. And for me, the sort of journey is finding that. Finding what’s  actually going on with them, you know, what their thought process with school, what is it about writing, the mechanics of writing, what are you struggling with? You know, ‘cause it’s a big deal learning to write and for those that struggle that’s, you know, the putting it all together and it’s like, so let’s work it out. Is it the spelling? Is it the reading? Is it the understanding? Is it the grammar? Is it, you know, whatever sort of part, handwriting if you’re dyspraxic, you know, it’s- it’s sort of that to me is starting that and then making those little steps and getting to that result. And, I’m very much that I will say to them okay, our goal for the next few weeks is this. And, you know, usually it’s something, you know, that other tutors would sort of like, yeah but, you know, you should be able to do that in the session. But you know that that child is gonna struggle so much that you have to do it in small steps. And it’s really, really, really, really rewarding, getting to the end. And I think for anybody, whether you’re doing, you know, work to get somebody through their GCSE or, you know, teaching a child to read type of thing, you get that little bit at the end and it’s really special because you know that you personally have had some input in that.

 

[Ludo]

Yeah, Nicola.

 

[Amanda]

Did that answer your question?

 

[Ludo]

Absolutely, Nicola do you have any thoughts on that?

 

[Nicola]

The thing with this one is that the relationship between tutor and tutee is, it is pivotal, isn’t it? I mean, you can’t, you cannot tutor successfully unless you have a positive relationship and of course that takes time. I think, when we’re talking about this, kind of, learning journey, again, I’m gonna go back to the same point which is, it’s about making any student understand that it’s not about a journey to an A*, a level 9 or whatever. It’s a journey about getting better at something-

 

[Amanda]

Yeah.

 

[Nicola]

And finding out, and establishing where you are and how to get to the next step. And wanting to get to that next step. Well, actually I think all kids want to improve, I think all kids want to learn all the time it’s just, sometimes it’s scary because they might fail. And so, this is where your trust comes in. This is where building that relationship is so important and building the opportunity to make mistakes. I say kids, actually I’m teaching a 32 year old woman at the moment. She’s fantastic and she’s also making mistakes. She’s got to a point where she’s being able to make mistakes, and try things out and go, oh, I’ve no idea how to do that. And I’ll say, well, let’s try this ‘cause I don’t really know either and we’ll learn it together. And this is actually, you know, this is the thing, isn’t it? It’s all about taking steps of progress and giving them the safety net to be able to fail. To be able to try new things. To be able to investigate new stuff and just feel safe in your company and just build that trust that you’re on their side, essentially.

 

[Ludo]

So, Nicola, that’s really, really interesting. How did you approach or how did you amend your style for a 32 year old student?

 

[Nicola]

I won’t go into too much detail. Not that much actually because, to be honest, because ultimately, I mean, I mostly deal with writing and communication and things of that nature. That’s mainly what I do and, I mean, those rules are the same whether you’re writing a proposal for a work report or whether you’re writing a GCSE English essay. The rules, that’s why we do a GCSE in English, so you are prepared. Well, in theory. So that you are prepared when you go out into the world of work to write a report for somebody. So it is, you know, the principles are exactly the same and the jokes are just as bad. No matter how old you are, you’re going to have to suffer the same thing I’m afraid.

 

[Ludo]

Are we gonna get to hear any of them this evening, Nicola, or are you withholding them?

 

[Nicola]

Ludo, you’ll have to pay for that sort of comedy, okay?

[LAUGHS]

 

[Ludo]

Absolutely. And because you’re a professional tutor the hourly rate is higher, yep, yeah, yeah, I get it. I get it.

 

[Nicola]

Absolutely, absolutely.

 

[Ludo]

Richard, I think it was you who first brought up in the realms of this conversation the idea of going on a learning journey. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you found that?

 

[Richard]

Well, well why we started tutoring?

 

[Ludo]

Yes.

 

[Richard]

Well , one of my first thoughts when I was getting, in planning, and I was worried about having enough material for each student. Is that where you want me to go?

 

[Ludo]

Yes, please!

 

[Richard]

And, I realised before I even started really, that every student is going to be different and they’re all gonna work at different speeds. So what works for one student doesn’t necessarily work for another. So you’ve got two in a similar, two GCSE students in Year 10, they’re not necessarily gonna work at the same speed. So it’s easier to fill an hour with one student than it is with another. And sometimes, you might run out of work and what I’ve learnt to do is to have two lessons up my sleeve. So that if things go particularly well, and it goes easier and quicker than it might, then I’ve got another lesson that I can touch into. Not necessarily complete but at least I can make a start on. And I’ve always got a spelling test up my sleeve. [LAUGHS] Always got something to turn to, and a spelling test is always a good one. I sometimes use word searches for some of the younger ones. But it’s about having something in reserve, really. But I think the thing about, you have to assess how quickly or how well the student is working and you can’t do that in the first two or three sessions. But, it’s a bit trial and error. So, yeah, have plenty of work lined up, is my recommendation. And have something up your sleeve.

 

[Ludo]

Well, the more you say that, Richard, the less sure I am about what you mean by that but I’m not gonna press that too much beca-

 

[Richard]

Well, it’s easy when I’m sat here because I can just turn round here and I’ve got, and I’ve got a book I can turn to. And in it, in the back it’s got all these spelling tests in it you see. It’s more difficult when you’re carrying a briefcase around I suppose but I always used to carry the Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 commonly misspelt word lists, and really, even from the age of about 11 there are some really difficult words that children are expected to know. One that appears on my regular spelling lists is the word ‘definitely’. I challenge anybody [LAUGHS], it’s an ‘i’ not an ‘a’.

 

[Amanda]

We’re all, Richard, we’re all writing down ‘definitely’ to make sure we can spell it.

 

[Richard]

Yes I know, I was aware you’d all gone reaching for your pens, yeah.

[LAUGHS]

De-fi-ni-tely not defin-ate-ly.

 

[Amanda]

Defin-i-tely.

 

[Ludo]

Yeah, or defiantly! You get defiantly a lot.

 

[Richard]

Finite, finite, yes.

 

[Ludo]

Well, yeah, maybe this, what we should have said appeals more to English and humanities students than science and maths tutors. But it’s certainly, there’s a certain amount of-

 

[Richard]

So, well, it’s interesting you should say that because I have said to some students who I know are particularly strong with maths, I’ve said, well how do you spell ‘finite’? And the younger ones, you can introduce Buzz Lightyear. To infinity and beyond.

 

[Amanda]

By way of having things up your sleeve, my one is, very often having alternative words. So, like for you younger ones, what is an alternative word for said, you know, getting into all those adjectives what’s an alternative word for big and small and what else can you say, massive, enormous, and it’s always, you know, sort of, we play a game with something. So, that’s my, one of my go-to’s. I’ve also recently been playing, just on the whiteboard, noughts and crosses but with words so we, you know, they have a word that they’ve learnt to spell so I have to, you know, we do noughts and crosses and they love it and it can, you know. If you’ve got that last couple of minutes at the end to sort of, to sort of do something. But yeah, I agree, it’s always good to have something up your sleeve just in case. Just in case it doesn’t go to plan either, you know you have the child that has a meltdown on you and you’re like okay, completely off-plan. You know, and you definitely for that kind of thing need something up your sleeve.

 

[Ludo]

Yeah, Nicola, I’m gonna turn to you next on something that you mentioned in the conversation around this podcast which was that we, as tutors, we’ve got to, we must, kind of, take ownership of the enjoyment of our profession. That’s why we do what we do. Now, could you unpack that a little bit more and could I ask, do you mean by linking, you know, misspellings with, you know, Toy Story quotes. Is that what you mean, is that part of what you meant there or is that new to you too?

 

[Nicola]

I can’t remember exactly what I make to be honest. In terms of that whole idea of enjoyment, I mean, we are so privileged, we have got. We genuinely have the best job. I used to be a teacher, I did more than a dozen years in the classroom, I’m going to be completely honest, I wasn’t a great teacher, okay? Put me in a classroom, I’m like, average at best. That’s on a good day. I am, I’m gonna say it, I’m a pretty good tutor. And I’m pretty good for a number of reasons, but I think the main thing is, I’m just thrilled to be there. Everything. The reason I’m doing forty hour weeks at the moment is I’m doing a very bad job of turning people down. What this, in terms of enjoyment from my perspective, I mean, I do English and History. So, I get to sit around and talk to teenagers about books, and Nazis and Communists, and Tudors all day and that’s just awesome. And it is, you know, it is, it’s quite funny, I was talking to a lad just before I came on today, who I have been working with for a few years who doesn’t find school an easy place to be. And I know that feeling, I remember that as a teacher and a pupil. It’s not an easy environment to be in and, who was saying about how much he was really not looking forward to his coursework in history, and he said, well it’s either gonna be on Tudors or something else. I said about that, that’s fantastic! And we got, well, I got very excited about Malcom X for a bit because he’s my History crush. And then, you know, and if you don’t inspire them, for god’s sake don’t do it, first of all. And if you don’t enjoy it then your students will be sat there watching the clock and they will not benefit from it and, you know, admittedly I may get a little carried away on occasions. And some of my students are possibly a tiny bit scared of me, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. You’ve got to love what you do. It is a privilege, we are really lucky to do this. We are, frankly, really lucky to be doing this now when, let’s face it, there is a greater need than there has ever been before. So, you know, embrace it and do it because you want to because there’s no other good reason to do it to be honest.

 

[Ludo]

Jack, do you do what you do because you want to?

 

[Jack]

Yeah.

There you go, that’s a good podcast answer, isn it? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have been, like I’ve said a little bit before, I’ve been a teaching assistant in a school and what I do with Nudge Education now is not dissimilar to what I did then. Only, now I have the time to do it, now I’m paid to actually do that properly. You know, now I can actually support those kids who, who need it, you know. I love my job, you know, and I don’t say that very often and I can imagine doing it for a really longtime and I don’t think I’ve ever said that before in my life. So, you know, yeah, absolutely. 

 

[Ludo]

Okay, good, well I’m glad we were able to tease that out of you just towards the end of this podcast, Jack. I love my job. I do too. So, so there we go, and anyone else who does please put a little thumbs up in the chat as well, ‘cause that’s why we’re here. And there’s really no other reason that I could think of why this crowd of ten or so listeners that we have with us, and contributors that we have with us tonight would be with us at 9:41pm at the Love Tutoring Festival if they didn’t at least love what they did. I hope so anyway. So, thank you Jack for bringing that into the conversation. Now, we’re coming to an end here. That’s been a real, really good 35-40 minutes of some different aspects of professional tutoring. It didn’t necessarily go as I would have anticipated, there was some wonderful interjections there, principally from the wonderful Richard Ashelford who took us down a little track of his own. Which was, which was pretty cheeky of him but, no, there was, there was really, I think, enough there, more than enough there, for someone, for professional tutors at different stages of their journey through being a professional tutor to listen to, to learn from and hopefully to add to. So, I would like to thank the four of you, if there were any closing remarks that you had about being a professional tutor, some final words of wisdom for someone who is just beginning their journey as a professional tutor, the floor is yours.

 

[Jack]

Can I share one?

 

[Ludo]

Please.

 

[Jack]

Find your tribe of people, you know. Connect with other people. Whether that’s through the wonderful Qualified Tutor Community or not, you know. Being a part of a group of other people doing similar work has really helped me be emotionally available at work, because I can talk about what I’m doing and, you know, offload some of that stress. But also, you know, it’s a space. When you’re working in a school you have the opportunity to have that conversation in a corridor, to have that conversation in the staff room, by the photocopier, wherever, you know. You don’t have that opportunity often, as a tutor, because you’re working on your own. So, find other people who you like and who like you and talk about what you do with them, because that will keep you going for sure. 

 

[Amanda]

Yeah. Completely agree, Jack, and I think that’s been my pivotal point with, you know, getting to know people and talking with people and, and sharing knowledge as well. You know, so I really agree because it can be quite lonely if you, if you don’t do that, and it can be, you know, it’s just you. And you’ve got nobody to bounce an idea off, so yeah, that would, you know, that would be my point as well, to do that. And to find your forte as well.

 

[Ludo]

Yeah, excellent. Richard.

 

[Amanda]

Go! [LAUGHS]

 

[Richard]

Well, I think I would say, as a new tutor maybe, a new tutor, work on giving value for money. I think you will be respected for giving your best to the job. Your clients expect a high standard and sometimes they expect more than you can give but you have to do your best.

 

[Ludo]

Yeah, over-deliver if you can, because if we all over-delivered, then the world would be a much better place. Nicola, the final word lies with you.

 

[Nicola]

Oh lovely, I love it when that happens. I think the big thing is, especially for those of you who are teachers and are doing tutoring outside of tutoring, do remember that distinction between the two things. They are very distinct professions. Teachers do an incredible, difficult job that I can’t do, and when you go into being a tutor you’re no longer delivering content. What you’re doing is helping to hone skills, and that is a different thing. That is much more about a dialogue, and a conversation, and a relationship, and, you know, and it can last for years. The last student I had this evening, I’ve been seeing since he was in Year 7 and he’s in Year 13 now and it’s a wonderful, wonderful journey to go on with somebody. But remember, you do have this incredible advantage over teachers who have 30 people in the classroom to get to know the kid that you’re working with. Let them tell you what they need, don’t necessarily listen to the parents, listen to what the students are telling you what they need and make sure that you are responding to that.

 

[Ludo]

Absolutely, well I’m very glad that we ended on that, Nicola, it’s a vital part of this discussion certainly. So, we’ve ended with those four, final passing thoughts as well. So don’t forget those. Don’t forget as well that the recording of this podcast will be available in the Community from this evening if I’m able to find time. Or on the Qualified Tutor Podcast in the coming weeks. Thank you all very much for joining us, it’s nearing 10:30pm on Wednesday 30th June. We are bringing to a close the third day of the Love Tutoring Festival.

 

[Ludo]

I couldn’t be more proud of everyone joining, yeah, exactly. Elizabeth has been here every step of the way with us. So thank you to all of our speakers, thank you to all of our attendees this evening, And we will see you tomorrow for the second day of our Teaching & Learning days with a focus on the National Tutoring Programme. Cheerio everyone, and we’ll see you next time!

 

[Nicola]

Thank you very much, Ludo, bye bye!

 

[Richard]

Goodbye.

 

***

If you’d like to hear the recording itself, please click here (passcode: YBj1O6?p)

 

Jack Simmonds
Jack has been in and around education his whole life, as a teenager he was giving music lessons with his local youth music group and hasn’t ever stopped! He has worked in all sorts of different jobs from Hull to Fuerteventura, but most of his work has had some kind of teaching or facilitating element. Jack loves watching people in that moment where they realise they can do something they didn’t think they could manage before. He currently works for Nudge Education most of the time - when he’s not doing that, he can be found outside with his tiny dog.

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