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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Heartache of a private tutor

There is a lack of understanding, courtesy and consideration sometimes on the part of parents for the work that goes into providing private tuition to their children.
By S James
I’d like to write on behalf of all the tutors out there who tutor because it’s their passion.
I am well aware that every individual is flawed and nobody is perfect and there are no perfect tutors. Everybody has their share of experiences.
The very nature of being self-employed means that you won’t always know where, or sometimes when, your next pay packet is coming from, however, it’s important to recognise when you’ve reached your limitations.
Being a tutor has brought me a lot of joy and it’s something I love doing. Not many have the privilege of doing what they love. The joy of seeing my student’s progress is probably the biggest reward for me.
Having said this, however, being a home tutor is not easy. And this leads me to my dilemma.
Imagine doing all the work and being dedicated towards what you do and having parents going cold turkey on you. Could one possibly imagine how that feels?
Not being paid on time, while still engaging in our services and also claiming that the tuition fees will be paid, though there’s always a reason when it is not.
Sometimes people say, home tutor? You must earn a lot of money. Excuse me, it’s not an easy task and we don’t earn a lot overnight. I’m sure most people can relate to certain aspects regardless of what they do.
Hours are spent preparing lessons, marking assignments. Time and our own money goes into preparing those worksheets. Waiting outside a student’s house. Waiting to be let in. There are times the wait is longer as parents forget.
Travelling all the way to a student’s house and finding nobody home, because there was no prior notification.
Running for classes after work or back to back classes with no time to rest. It is stressful we end up eating in our car at traffic stops or skipping meals. We don’t complain. Tutoring for years, I rather skip meals than be late.
Not only do we need to ensure that what we’re teaching is relevant, but we need to make sure that our students are progressing as a result of our help.
As a tutor, it’s important to manage both students’ and parents’ expectations from day one. Sometimes we’re expected to achieve the impossible (we aren’t miracle workers).
We motivate and counsel our students. When they talk to us about their problems we take the time to listen because we do care. When they ask for extra classes, I give my students extra classes at no extra charge. I do it because I want to.
Tutors have more than one job to make ends meet.
Some have a career, some are students and not to mention, they do this also to pay for their own tuition fees.
We pay for the cost before even getting our pay. Petrol price rises. Yet most of the time our rate is the same.
Don’t forget the travelling adds pressure to us as well. We don’t charge when we’re stuck in traffic, paying toll, going through the residential security check on our way to a student’s house. That takes up time too. Yet parents complain that our time is money.
Handling parents who request for private tuition service but expect fees that are same as tuition centres with a classroom full of students.
This is very frustrating. Parents cannot expect a tutor to drive all the way to a house, coach the student, prepare teaching materials catering particularly to the student’s needs, adjusting classes to fit parents’ schedule and yet provide tuition at the same rate as tuition centres.
No job days. We only get paid when there are classes
They are more reasons to be listed. Having said all this, is it too much to ask just to be paid on time? Or being paid at all?
How would anyone feel when their employer doesn’t provide the salary as promised or there is a delay in salaries being paid out?
We’ve also got commitments, bills to pay and a family to take care of. For those wondering why tuition fees are not collected after every class or even before a class commences, please note that sometimes parents make requests only after engaging our services.
We try to be understanding when they request us to collect monthly payment later due to their situation. It’s not possible all the time.
All we ask is don’t take what we do for granted. We care a lot for our students. If parents want to terminate our service it’s their right. It is our right to also get paid for tutoring.
We cannot constantly chase after parents just to get what is due to us. If parents are facing difficulties, then let us know. We do understand. After all our job as tutors is not contract based, so we are aware that it is a risky job.
I’ve even tutored for free when parents were honest and informed me they couldn’t engage my services anymore after initially paying for my class. I did it because I wanted to. I regard my students as my kids at times.
During my time teaching, the bond formed with students is priceless and they aren’t just part of my student list but also a part of my heart. To the parents who know and appreciate it, I’m thankful.
To all the parents who are understanding, have been kind and have not made us run around like chickens, I say thank you. It means the world to us. You and your kids make teaching even more precious and makes me want to be a better human being.
We don’t want publicity, gifts or even likes. All we ask for is respect as a human being and common courtesy.
S James is an FMT reader.

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