Alison is a Supplementary Provision educator for Fleet. A former maths teacher, she chose to leave full-time teaching after the birth of her child as she needed a role that offered flexibility yet still made use of her teaching skills and experience. Part 2 of our blog follows Alison as she provides tuition to a small group of secondary aged pupils and to an individual pupil in their home provided by the school.
2.15 My second tutoring session starts. This consists of three year 8 pupils. When working with younger pupils, from years 7 to 9, there needs to be a bit more of a focus on the fun and engaging side of the work. The pressure of exams has not kicked in for those children, so you need to try to talk enthusiastically and be a little more relaxed about progress. In some cases, progress is a bit slower, particularly if they are learning something for the first time.
2.20 The COVID-19 pandemic shook up the academic landscape and pushed teachers to experiment with different strategies for engaging their pupils. Flipped learning is something I implement in my group tutoring sessions. This instructional strategy is a type of blended learning, which aims to increase student engagement and learning by having pupils complete readings at home and work on live problem-solving during class time.
Pupils in the flipped classroom view digital elements as pre-class homework and then spend in-class time engaged in active learning experiences such as discussions, presentations, projects, problem-solving, computations, and group activities.
I check that the pupils have looked at their homework, and they assure me that they have! I provided some short online videos for them to watch before class. By year 8, pupils are settled into secondary school, have developed their basic maths skills, and are ready to be challenged. They enjoy lessons that are a bit different: applying their skills to real-life situations, playing games, and solving problems.
End of the School Day
3.15 The class finishes, and I give pre-class homework for next week. I am conscious that they already get homework from their maths teacher, so ensure that any tasks are small, bite-sized chunks that are often online.
3.20 The Head of Maths stops by for a quick chat when the class leaves. I talk with the head every day I’m here and report to them any problems or issues I‘m having. Mr Day is helpful and quick to help me with anything I need. He has outlined the general approach to tutoring, and the scheme of work for what to cover through the year, which is helpful. The school trusts that I’m on task. I’ve been given positive feedback, and it is good to know that I’m making a difference.
3:25 Tutoring sometimes takes place outside of the school, and my next session is at a pupil’s home. I have twenty minutes before I have to leave, so I use the time to work on my laptop. Fleet has a robust tracking and progress reporting system – STEPS (Student and Tutor Educational Performance System). It’s easy to use and measures progress, behaviour, attendance, engagement, and attainment. I start by writing up my first online session, and I can see that this pupil is making good progress.
There is a cohort report, so schools can easily monitor the progress of all their pupils in one place. It is here that I document my two tutoring groups. Schools have access to STEPS reports completed after every session, so I always ensure that I do that quickly. Plus, it helps me remember the details too.
3.55 I arrive at my tutee’s home. I’m greeted by my pupil’s mother and golden retriever! Pupil X’s parents are always appreciative of my help, and I’m offered a cup of tea and a cake right away. Sometimes parents discuss needs at the start of tuition, but they are happy for me to get started. The parents are aware that I know what is best for my pupils.
I belong to the Society of Education, so all my CPD and current innovative and creative methods are up-to-date as an Advanced Practitioner, trainer, and teacher. I was observed by Ofsted last year, and they gave very good feedback about my teaching, delivery, and meeting the group and individual needs of the pupils I taught.
4 pm It is my final tutoring session of the day. I’m sure Pupil X will be tired, as they have already had a whole day of school. In any one-on-one in-person tutoring session, you need to have good, clear communication, open body language, and a warm and welcoming tone. It is important to be positive and smile too!
My tutee has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia and dyscalculia, so the school has provided tutoring for both English and maths. For neurodiverse students (both diagnosed and undiagnosed), tutoring helps, as many learners need someone to see their specific issues and know how to respond to them. Tutors can customise lessons for their learners.
I can’t begin to imagine how difficult learning maths is with dyscalculia, but with regular encouragement and praise, pupils, particularly those with neurodiverse learning conditions, can feel less overwhelmed or frustrated with school.
Tutoring is a supplement to school learning to help students catch up, so we go over the theories that the teacher is covering in the maths classes this week. How I adapt my teaching style depends on the pupil and their needs. Activities have to be relevant, whether visual, auditory, or hands-on, such as conducting research.
4.20 As statistics are being covered, we work together on a mini-research project, and it gives me an opportunity to go over percentages too. We have a good session, and I don’t tend to assign Pupil X homework but do share some optional mini-online videos with them.
5 pm The parents thank me for the session, and I go straight to pick my daughter up from ballet class. When we arrive home, I ask my daughter about her day. She shows me what she did in ballet, and we play a game together before dinner. It won’t be too many years until we are talking about school and I’m tutoring her!
6 pm I let my daughter watch a TV programme while I log onto STEPS and update my last tutoring session. I fill out reports as soon as possible and set reminders so I know when end-of-tuition reports are coming up. This way I can prepare notes for them in advance so the majority is completed by the time it’s due.
6.15 I then check my emails. Sometimes the Fleet Team provides additional training opportunities, so it is important to check emails.
I can now spend time with my daughter. With my old teaching role, I would be doing lesson plans and marking well into the night but with my day done. As a single mum, I value being able to provide financially and having time to spend with her.
8.30 I look at flights to Sydney; I want to go there later in the year. My sister emigrated there in 2015, but I was busy with teaching and then had a baby. There is more flexibility with tutoring!