Since July 5th 2019, I have been an italki tutor for French, German and English. Over this period of time I have been able to learn a lot about myself as a tutor, as well as various types of students. Through the tough times and the gentle times, I have somehow made it through, and I am ready to ‘spill the tea’ on online tutoring and present what I have learnt along the way. Are you interested in teaching online? This article is designed for you!
During May last year, I decided that teaching online was something that I was very interested in and looking at platforms such as italki and verbling really made me realise this. I decided that during the summer, when I had more time on my hands, that I would send off an application (or three, take a look at my article about teaching on italki) to become a tutor with italki. Why? The answer was simple, I loved being able to share my experience and knowledge with other people and also learn from them. Teaching isn’t just about presenting your knowledge, it is about learning from your students and making connections. I started to put together various materials and come up with lesson plans while applying for the position as a tutor alongside my job at the time. I put together a video, I wrote about myself and my lessons and after some time, there I was, an italki tutor. I was not prepared for the amount of stress and experiences that would come my way over the coming months. After a few weeks I had taught about thirty lessons and I was able to gain students quite easily, something most tutors and teachers struggle with. Perhaps it was the energy I gave off or the willingness to help, but I always did my best to be the teacher I would want to receive. This was key to me. During the first few months of teaching online I came to realise just how much students rely on teachers. I was scared of being wrong or unsure, which in some cases I most certainly was. That is okay. The truth is, as teachers, we must be open and honest with our students.
I quickly began to burn out after months of lessons every day. In most cases during the summer, I was teaching for roughly six to eight hours a day. I would begin during the early hours of the morning and finish during the evening. This was not a good idea as it did lead to me eventually burning out, but I took some time off, returned and I rethought my entire game plan. I was more kind to myself, the quality of my teaching improved and overall, I was happier. Now, for example, I begin to teach at 10am and I finish at 3pm. In some cases, I can only teach in the evening. This means that when I finish for the day, I can enjoy my evening and have a social life. Also, I do not work on a Sunday, meaning that I always have a set date for being able to relax and enjoy my own company. This keeps up my motivation and allows me to have regular breaks. When starting out, yes, it is important to market yourself and attract students but do not burn yourself out and make sure that you remain in good health.
In regard to marketing yourself, make sure that you present yourself as professional while being relaxed, approachable and fun. Students like to have teachers that are relatable and friendly. This benefits their learning as well as the teacher’s reviews. The more students you teach, the better the reviews become, leading to being more content and the more productive everyone is. Building testimonials and reviews are so important when starting out. This helps boost trust and students will be able to seperate you from the growing community of competition. Another great source of information is teacher groups on Facebook. These are groups of teachers, working for your organisation, that post advice, questions and support. It is a very friendly and supportive community in my experience. While I refer to italki a lot, there are many organisations out there. Some common ones are Verbling, italki and Cambly. When applying, you should have a clear idea of what your market should look like. Who is it that you want to teach? Kids? Teenagers? Adults? A mix? You should have a clear picture beforehand. This will help when preparing resources and materials. I, personally, teach teenagers and adults and that is simply what I prefer. In the case you want to have more control, perhaps you want to set up your own tutoring business. Great! However, I sadly don’t have too much experience in this department. I have tutored people from my local area before but I quite like having the opportunity to appeal to a wider audience online. There are some fantastic students that I now consider friends and some, I am even planning to meet with soon. In certain cases, students are rude. You will learn to deal with these individuals, just as long as you are open and approachable. While it is great to have qualifications, putting all of this into practice for the first time is tough, don’t get me wrong, but with time comes experience and being a teacher online is truly a fantastic experience that is incredibly rewarding. Teaching is now my full income and I love to be able to meet new people everyday. You may find that this job is not for you after all, which is also okay.
I am planning to continue as an online teacher and to expand my network of students, both old and new. My students mean the world to me and I love my job. If you are thinking about joining our community, I would highly recommend giving it a go! It will be tough at times, but it is worth it in the end when we can provide support in a student’s life. Take some time and consider your options before diving in, just so you know you are applying for the right agency for you. While I am currently with italki, I will soon be expanding around my local area and I am hoping to add more availability as the year goes on. I really hope this article has been able to help someone out there looking to get started in this exciting world.