The benefits of tutoring if you are a teacher:
- Extra money.
- Experience with other types of students.
- Develop your teaching strategies.
Tutoring and teaching are quite different. You need to use different strategies, and there are also different expectations if you are acting as a tutor and not a teacher. You may love being a teacher and not really want to change careers, or you might be wanting to consider a change. Regardless, every teacher can learn a lot from spending a little time tutoring students.
Extra money is always nice. As a teacher, you may need to have a second (or third) job anyway, and tutoring is a great option. A lot of the skills that you need to use are the same, and so it’s a lot easier to learn to be a tutor if you’re already trained and working as a teacher.
One of the main problems that teachers face when they try to start up a side-hustle or get into another job is that they simply don’t have the time. Teaching is the kind of profession that will suck up as much of your time as you allow it; there is always more that you could be doing to support your students. If you are considering another job or side-hustle at all, it is well worth taking this into account and thinking about your well-being.
I’m not saying don’t use up your precious spare time to try tutoring to earn some extra money. Tutoring is a great option because you are doubling up on a lot of your time. As a teacher, you’re already familiar with the skills that your students are learning and how to best help students strengthen them. You don’t need to learn this from scratch, and you can often use the same resources as well. Tutoring is a great option for teachers who are looking for some extra cash.
Experience with other types of students.
As teachers, we do sometimes get trapped in a bit of an echo chamber. Most schools cater to a certain geographical range of students, and so you usually get a limited range of experiences, backgrounds and ability levels in your class. Teaching in different schools is a fantastic way to learn about the breadth of what teaching can be, and tutoring different students from different schools has a similar benefit.
You will have students with a range of different needs, and you’ll even be hired for a range of different reasons. There is a huge difference in the skills required to help one student who has struggled with Maths for his entire school career and really just needs to pass this subject so that he never has to do it again, versus a high achieving student who needs the highest possible grades to get into their dream college.
Beyond being good for your professional development, this can be very good for your well being as well. Taking yourself out of your own classroom and your students’ problems and helping someone entirely different tackle theirs for a while can be refreshing. It might be exactly what you need to find joy in teaching again and not feel so stuck in a particular school context.
Develop your teaching strategies.
Even if you are a teacher and have been teaching students for decades, you will still learn something new from tutoring. It might be the first time that you’ve been in a student’s home before and you can see how different students sit and do their homework, or it could be that your student is having trouble with something that is well outside of your curriculum area.
One of the best ways to learn is to teach.1 As long as you have the skills to overcome the obstacle, the challenge is what helps us learn and grow. As a teacher, you have well-developed skills to tackle any problem that a student can throw at you, and it’s nice to flex those skills to solve problems that you haven’t personally encountered before.
So should I become a tutor?
It is completely up to you. Everyone is in a different boat and a different place in their lives and careers. Depending on who you are, one of these reasons will speak to you more than others.
I strongly believe that all of these points have some benefit to every teacher. The key thing to consider is your time. As teachers, we are already time-poor. The main reason why you would not want to be a tutor and a teacher at the same time is that it would cut into your precious time with your friends, family, and yourself.
It is certainly something worth considering, though. You may want to try it out just for a summer or do it for a semester while you’re in between contracts. You may be planning on going part-time or easing into retirement. If you are at a point in your life where you are considering doing some work as a tutor, it will be well worth your time.
1Wood, D. (2003). The why? what? when? and how? of tutoring: The development of helping and tutoring skills in children. Literacy teaching and learning, 7, 1-30.