Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lesson observations

Recently I had a lesson ob by my HOD. Most of you would know this would not be an ordinary lesson. You are expected to put on a good lesson ( some would say a good show ) to showcase the best of your teaching abilities.

Well, it came and went, I received some feedback that I had to act on (eek!) but I'm thankful I don't have to do it again. It makes me very nervous to have to teach in front of my HOD, let alone a 'special' lesson. Then I also have to make sure I don't scold my students too harshly, lest I am seen as 'too fierce' and 'discouraging'.

The whole process makes me very nervous and honestly, sometimes after all the planning, I'd do something wrong after all, simply because of all the stuff I'm trying to perform!

What about you? How have your experiences with observations been? If you are a beginning teacher, what questions do you have about observations?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

How to be a Tuition Teacher Part 2 - The First Lesson

Congratulations! You called the agencies, you got an assignment, negotiated a fair pay, and you're going for your first lesson next week!

Now... What are you going to do?

School teachers have an advantage in this case. They would already have a syllabus, or a scheme of work for them to plan their lessons.

However, especially if you are an untrained teacher, you could be left quite blur. And you wouldn't want to give your students' parents the impression that you don't know anything.

Here are a few tips, then, to get you through the first hour at least!

1. Ask for the student's result slips or previous exam papers. See which subject the pupil was weak in, or which sections they were weak in. Spend some time talking to the parent about feedback from the teachers at school. This will help you in helping him later.

2. Prepare some assessment papers or school exam papers. You can ask the student to do them so you know where he is stumped. Another tip is to use an exam paper from a 'branded' school and another from an ordinary school. You can then roughly tell where he lies.

3. Reading and writing (lower primary). Some lower primary pupils may face word recognition problems, which is why their parents are engaging tutors! Choose some books ranging from easy to difficult from the children's section and ask the child to read them to you. If he stumbles, tell him the word and guide him. With better pupils, you can ask them to write a few sentences about themselves, or the book.

These are just 3 simple methods any Untrained teacher can use! Do you stop there? Of course not! You will later use whatever you observed in the first lesson to plan for your student later, but that's another blog post! Hope you found this useful!

Sunday, March 03, 2013

How to be a Tuition Teacher Part 1 - How to find students

Thanks for supporting my old post on being a relief teacher! From there I realized that there were people keen to know more about teaching!

So I decided to write a new series, and this time, it is on teaching tuition.

I'm sure many of us out there would have tried being a tutor at some point of our lives. For many people, they do this without the benefit of teaching experience. This means they are not always prepared for what to actually teach and do during tuition classes.

I went through this once too, after my exams. I taught tuition privately for about 2 years before stopping completely to concentrate on teaching. With the benefit of my experience in school with actual students, I can now look back and see where I did wrong, and where I did right.

So, I decided to compile them into a short series. Some of the things I have written may not work for everyone! Everyone has a unique style of doing things. ( As I found out from the comments on my previous post on relief teachers ) I can only offer my two cents worth, and it is up to you whether you want to employ my methods or not.

This is Part 1: How to find students for tuition

1. Network, network
This is a valuable lesson, and I think those working in sales would agree. Tuition assignments will not come to you magically. You must let people know that you are up for hire, and networking is the key. Let as many people know that you intend to do tuition, for which levels and which subjects.

(Facebook and Twitter may have their uses here, but don't forget that many parents may not use these as frequently as you do. Don't forget your target audience is not your friends, it's the parents)

Let all your parents' friends, especially those with young children know. Send out the news to as many parents in your circle, maybe your neighbors even. You never know what may come your way.

2. Tuition agencies
I called many agencies when I first started. The first thing you must realize is that they will take half of your first month's pay as commission. This is non-negotiable as the agencies rely on this for their main income. If you go for the first lesson and you realize that you do not want to teach that student, you may even have to pay the agency in some cases.

Make sure you are 100% clear on the agency's commission policy before you take any assignments. You must be prepared to wait for assignments. I first started calling agencies in early Dec. I only started getting return calls in early Jan.

Some agencies may ask for copies of your educational certificates, and these are usually the bigger agencies. Make sure you have copies of these ready.

3. Leaflets
Printing your own leaflets and sending them out can be low-cost, but time-consuming. I tried this in 2 ways.

First, I pasted leaflets with my HP no on the walls of the lift lobbies around my estate. Second, I also tried photocopying leaflets to drop into mailboxes. I covered around half my estate.

The result? ONE reply. Later on, I also realised that the educated parents around my estate were not likely to trust a strange leaflet pasted up by who-knows-what!

Also, I found my leaflets torn off the very next day! I suspected the HDB cleaners at first, till I realized that other leaflets by other tuition schools had been left alone! Had my leaflets been torn off by rivals? To this day, I do not know... But I can conclude from that experience that this is a very time-consuming and wasteful marketing strategy!

That's all I have to share on this and I hope you find it useful! If there's anything else you would like me to share, you can always comment below!