Tutor: Success is the Sum of Details

Have you ever heard the folk classic, “Arkansas Traveler?” Every rendition seems to have a different set of lyrics praising plainspoken country wisdom, but I’m partial to Michelle Shocked’s version–sadly unavailable online–which includes the following verse:

“Hey farmer, when you gonna fix that leakin’ roof?”

“Ah stranger, when it’s a rainin’ it’s too wet to fix it,
And when it’s dry it’s just as good as any man’s house.”

Summer, as we discussed last week, is the perfect season for self-care. But that fallow time between the last days of one school year and beginning of the next must include attention to your tutoring practice as well.

If you put off essential tasks too long, you may find yourself too busy to attend to them when they matter most. Then again, you may find yourself insufficiently busy to sustain your practice. Why wait to find out?

If you’re willing to patch your proverbial roof during dry times, consider the following aspects of your practice–whether you own it or work for it:

MARKETING: Is the practice actively engaged in productive marketing channels, events and relationships?

SALES: Is the practice converting a high enough percentage of inquiries?

CURRICULUM: Is the practice working from effective, industry standard, cost-effective resources?

OPERATIONS: Is the practice maintaining high levels of operational efficiency while managing costs?

LEGAL: Is the practice carrying the right insurances and operating in compliance with national, state, and county regulations?

CASHFLOW: Is the amount of revenue generated after expenses sufficient to meet minimum requirements or, better yet, optimal goals?

Questions like these represent the bare minimum level of attention each detail of a healthy, sustainable tutoring operation requires. That said, if you can answer “yes” to all of them, consider your practice ready for whatever flood of business rushes your way!

— Mike Bergin

Tutor Tastemaker

Daniel Riseman is an educational consultant based in Westchester County, NY who tutors for a wide range of tests and subjects.

What are three resources your practice depends on?
No Fear ShakespeareFlipping Physics, and Desmos

What is one more resource you strongly recommend?
The Numberphile Podcast

What is one insight every tutor should hear? 
Family dynamics are rarely straightforward. Try to provide frequent updates to the student’s parents through texts or emails to ensure that everyone feels part of the process.

Tutor Tips, Tools, and Thoughts

Systems vs Goals: Why You Need Systems, Not Goals
Why we should emphasize systems for our students and ourselves.

Let’s Probe! The words to unlock non-judgemental coaching conversations.
First praise, then probe.

Do the work
Do you have work that needs to be done? Here’s how to do it.

The Relative Pricing Pyramid
Where, as a tutor, do you land on the Relative Pricing Pyramid?

Why do we remember more by reading in print vs. on a screen?
Despite the move in education to digital media and testing, research still supports old fashioned reading.

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