Becoming a better tutor: Part 7 – Location, location, location
When you first start out as a tutor, you never really think about where you’re going to have your lessons. It is something that evades you entirely until you lock down the student, and start frantically checking the availability of your university’s library rooms. Location provides the atmosphere for learning. When I’m teaching English, I prefer having conversational lessons at a coffee shop. It’s easier to talk and discuss topics in a setting that isn’t very formal in those instances. When I’m teaching Maths, I prefer the University library or a state library. The formal setting and quiet nature of these locations is much more conducive to learning than say, a restaurant.
So why is location so important?
This is probably one of the most important factors for a tutor that is not finding students via word of mouth. Finding students online or even through physical advertisements means that students are relatively apprehensive of your identity. A public area with many people around like a library or coffee shop means that you can rid your students of that anxiety. It’s also safer for you, too! A lot of friends who teach adult students prefer meeting in public places; going to someone’s house that you aren’t familiar with isn’t particularly the most pleasant thing to do, and having a lesson in a public place can make both parties feel a bit more at ease.
The atmosphere of a location can make a massive impact on the ability to learn and converse. As I mentioned before, if your lessons are heavily conversational make sure that you don’t hold your lessons in a quiet part of a library. Adapt your lessons based on the atmosphere you’re seeking to achieve. Doing rigorous math work in a library is a bit easier to tolerate, especially when you aren’t distracted by people chatting next to you. On the other hand, being in a coffee shop can mean that you are able to talk a bit louder and utilise more conversational based lesson plans.
Distance is a huge factor when I consider pricing. Without a car, it can take me twenty to thirty minutes, each way, to go from my house to a library in the other suburb. I make sure that students are aware of that when they are booking me for a lesson. Whenever you are finding a location, make sure that it’s mid-way for both of you, or offer your student a cheaper price if he is able to come to you.
If you normally charge $30/hr, but you are stuck on a bus for thirty minutes each way, you are really only making $15/hr, and that’s not even factoring in travel costs! Always give the students the option to make your life a little bit easier, and negotiate a decent price to incentivise them to come to you.
Next article, we’ll be discussing how to find the perfect price, and how to move from a private tutor to a more professional business.