The tittle of this post makes you think that I was lying when I said I was a tutor and that I actually have some kind of cool job, like being a spy or an astronaut or a stripper. Nope, the official job description is tutor. Sorry if I’m not interesting enough for you.
So, the main goal of this post is to explain what I actually do every day. So far, you only know that I am self-employed and that I have my own office where I tutor people. I’ve also mentioned that I’m paid by the hour (which is the normal situations for tutors, I think) and that the amount of money I make is not the same each week. I don’t know if I’ve said this already but it is also my only source of income.
To be completely honest, I would say that the title “tutor” doesn’t do justice to what I really do. I’m not qualified to be called a teacher (yet) and several people have told me that I’m not a real teacher, which is mean but true. Despite all that, most of my work is teacher work. I teach private lessons and I teach people to speak English. I’ve been doing this since 2012 and I’ve had a lot more than 100 different students, from different ages, backgrounds and with different needs and goals. I think I have enough experience and knowledge to consider myself a teacher and not just a private tutor. I feel that I actually teach. People have learned a lot from me (their words, not mine) and that makes me proud of what I do. I’ve met so many amazing people through my job and some of them have even become good friends.
To be more exact, people (usually adults who work) come to me because they need to learn or improve their English. Every student is in a different situation and has different needs and I try to take that into account and adapt the lessons to their level (obviously) and goals. They may come to me because they need it in their professional life, to travel, for personal reasons or to prepare for an interview or exam, for example. Every case is different and no class is the same.
I go for an informal learning environment where they can feel comfortable and never judged for what they don’t know. I try to encourage and motivate them in order to boost their confidence. I choose the materials according to their needs but also taking their personal preferences into account, so the lesson is not boring or useless.
I always have a great relationship with my students. They say I’m extremely calm, soothing and patient and that they feel comfortable with me. We always have fun for sure. I try to be kind and treat people with respect. I think that’s the most important thing and a key for success. I have an online ad but people also come from recommendations. A lot of them, actually. They tell their friends that they have a “great teacher” and that they “should try a class” (again, not my words) and then they usually stick around.
The tutoring part is also true because I have actual students, I mean, teenagers and sometimes children that are still in school and need help with their school work. For that I do more than English, as I can also help them with Portuguese and History. I have an “assistant” tutor (who is also my sister’s boyfriend and amazing) for maths and such subjects, because I don’t even know how to count to ten without using my fingers.
I prepare teenagers from 12th grade for their final exams and help them get into university. Well, at least I try. Teenagers are the worst, but that’s a story for another time. I actually love this more than teaching English because we get to work with Literature, which is one of my passions. We read great Portuguese authors (well, I do. They usually read summaries and tell me that they have read the book) and I get to discuss their work. This is seasonal, since the exams are in June and July and I only get this kind of work from maybe March to the middle of June.
I usually have between 10 and 30 students and I have been known to work from 7.30 a.m to 11.30 p.m without a break. Right now I think I have about 20. The schedules are never the same and I’m really flexible with the hours, maybe more than I should be. Some people miss or cancel classes very frequently. But I do the same when I’m in no condition to work and they are always very understanding, so I feel I don’t have the right to complain.
Do I like what I do? Yes. Do I like it every day? No. Some days are difficult, some students drive me insane and take all my energy away (remember the teenager part?). Do I love it? Well, I’ll tell you about that some other time because it is a really long story.
I started by tutoring my sister’s classmate who needed help with her English when they were in grade 12. I decided to place and ad and that’s how it started to grow. This is actually my second office. I had a smaller one last year and before that I used to go to people’s houses and such.
I was usually the best or one of the best in my English class when I was in school. I obviously took English in University (English and North American studies major) up until the highest level you can take. I had amazing English professors (both British and American) who taught me so much. I have an all time favorite teacher that I love so much and often quote and I’m very excited because I’m taking a business English course with him next semester. He’s the funniest, nicest teacher. Anyway, this the path that led me to where I am now. It started as something to earn a little money as a college student and became a business that I’ve been running for the past 4 years.
I think it’s one of the few things that make me proud about myself. I have the tendency to think that I’m never good enough but with my work, I feel like I do a good job. Not always. I fail and I have so much to learn, but I think I’m good at it. I will always try to keep learning and getting better, but I’m proud of myself for what I have achieved professionally, at such a young age, by myself.