Just read an interesting post at FreelanceSwitch here: http://freelanceswitch.com/freelance-freedom/whats-not-your-job/
I’m talking about when you limit yourself because you’re not clear on what’s part of your responsibility to a client.
The post made me think about how this applies to tutors and teachers. Often we can get frustrated at many things:
- Students not putting effort into learning
- Students not doing their homework
- Students not getting better marks
And yes, it can get really frustrating, especially when you put maybe 1hr of unpaid time into preparing for a 1 hr tutoring session per week. You spend a lot of time writing up worksheets or questions, photocopying stuff about of books – then your student doesn’t do the homework or read what you’ve photocopied for them.
What this article highlights is that it is NOT the tutor’s or teacher’s job to do anything extraordinary.
When I first started tutoring a few years back, one of my first students would want me to help her write her essays IN the tutoring sessions. This was rather awkward given that she would seemingly write down what I was dictating, even though I was just rambling about ideas/techniques that she COULD talk about.
Then when she got a not-so-great mark, obviously I felt bad. I mean, I had practically written the essay for her and I felt a direct responsibility for that.
But what I’ve learnt from that 1st student is to really put limitations on how much you can do. This is really up to you as a tutor or teacher, but here are some guidelines that I follow:
1. It is NOT your job to make sure the student does their homework.
This is probably more of a parenting or discipline issue. If they want you to ensure that their kid does their homework, then they should get a babysitter. Or send their kid to bootcamp.
BUT you should notify them that their kid is NOT doing the homework. Usually, if the kid doesn’t do the homework 2 weeks in a row, I’ll tell the parents. I also write mini term reports, in which I note down whether or not they have been completing the tutoring work.
2. It is NOT your job to write your student’s essays or assignments for them.
There’s a fine line between helping your student and doing their work for them. I think, to an extent, you can only learn the different through experience.
I tend to give detailed comments, as well as edit student’s work. But honestly, you will not have time to heavily edit your student’s work anyway. Usually, I will squiggle underline things and write “grammar issues” or “condense” or “no techniques” to parts they need to work on. But I do not rewrite whole sentences for them.
To avoid being put in the situation of writing your student’s essay:
- Help them get started with say the introduction or topic sentences in class.
- Get them to complete the WHOLE essay for homework.
- Do this all WELL before the assessment/exam date – otherwise you’ll feel obliged to help them do it right there and then on the day before the exam.
3. It is NOT your job to ensure that your students get brilliant marks.
The reality is that, besides you, there are many factors in your student’s performance that you CANNOT control. For example, the student’s aptitude or innate ability to learn, their school teacher, their work ethic, their family/personal life, their learning attitude.
It is simply beyond you to use ONE HOUR per week to miraculously change your student. Consider the fact that you only see them 1 hour out of…24×7 hrs!
Some tutors, and in particular tutoring centres, promise students and parents a percentage % increase. Do you think this is feasible for private tutors?
So what do you do? What is part of your job?