Tutoring Tutors for Happiness

When I, like many other students, was looking for jobs as a student living in Munich or in Duesseldorf (Germany) I had several jobs to earn the money for my living and studying costs. I did social work, worked at a gas station and was programming computers at University (which was paid poorly though the people were nice!) - luckily a good friend of mine asked me to give some Grammar lessons for his cousin. At first I was hesitating because I had never done this before, but since I had learned how to learn I thought I could surely contribute to the learning abilities of his cousin. That was the first time I worked as a private tutor if I leave alone all those hours with my little brothers and sisters (2 of each) who needed help from time to time (or my mother needing help keeping them at the desk). Well, that was a start. Then followed years of experience with tutoring subjects like English, maths, German grammar and writing, text analysis, French, Physics and even a little chemistry and religion as far as I remember. From year to year I was able to teach more subjects since starting with 2 subjects only, every new student made me learn more and more ! :-) - finally this was a chance to remember and to rethink over all those things I had learned or should have learned at school. Actually the school hours were being paid back! :-)
Later on I started to build a small website (www.nachhilfe-lehrer.com - 'Nachhilfe' is the German expression for tutoring in the sense of additional lessons) in order to let parents / students find me over the internet. This was in the year 1999/2000. When many more students knocked at my door wanting to be tutored than I had been able to attract over those classic ways such as papers at university torn down by 20.000 students looking for a job or a room, I realised that I could offer my website to other students as well. This was the start of a service which I then expanded over all Germany, Austria and Switzerland. And my wildest guesses were to pay the rent for my single room during my studies. The next thing I realised that there was a certain need to have the website available in English language, since some of the parents were living outside Germany.

I can tell you that if I had known HOW MUCH WORK this would be I WOULD HAVE NEVER STARTED this business! ;-) - Internet technology in those days was just at the beginning and probably still is. So I really started with a simple text-editor and then with simple website-generator in order to type in those tutor and student data MANUALLY. :-) - After some time it became necessary to really go into database programming. Which was the last I wanted to do in my life EVER! :-)) ... yet that's life. And since life sucked at that time, I did'nt want to be no dick and kept on developing the web for the sake of education.

Anyway. All through the following years while developiong this growing service and answering thousands of emails and phone calls among others the following questions repeatedly came to my ears: How can I become a tutor? How do I qualify to be a tutor? What should I do in the first lesson, and should this first lesson be paid?

Here's my simplified answer:

- you are already a tutor,
- you do qualify by tutoring
- you may ask the student what to do by simply asking him or her.

ok, you will say: now that's cheap! -

And I will say: No that's the process.

I tell you why.

I studied pedagogics at university. And to my amazement a large number of students in this area did not like the idea of being teachers in the future. They mostly did it because their parents did it and because they thought to have more holidays in this job than in any other secure full time or part time job.
This was about ten years ago and just in May 2008 there was an article in the German Geo-Magazine that in fact more than one fourth of all future teachers did'nt really like the idea of being a teacher and one third simply got into this field because their parents did.

Now what should I say if a mother called the service hotline and wanted to explicitly be connected to a future teacher when at the same time I knew that friends of mine who were studying subjects like philosophy, engeneering or were'nt even academic students but mothers who had successfully helped 3 kids learning maths and grammar and were motivated sharing their knowledge and their abilities? Over the years I realised that there's only one good tutor: the motivated and motivating one.

People with interest, motivation and patience can tutor almost anything.
Since interest, motivation and patience is what pupils and students often need most.

Teachers who are no longer interested in the subjects nor in the students are killers for the interest in the subjects of their students.
Teachers who cannot motivate fail to produce interest and persistance.
Teachers who have no patience will stress those who learn slowly but thoroughly and thus multiply the stress and transfer it into the families where often uninterested, unmotivated and unpatient parents close the door to the natural drive to learn that children and every human being originally has inside.

Genius inside! - This motto should be printed on baseball-caps and given to every student entering a school.

What am I talking about?
I am talking about an attitude, about a general need in situations were children seem unable or unwilling to struggle at school.

A tutor - to my experience - foremost is a person who is able to relax the situation a student is captured in. Neutralising stress, fear and pressure should be the main target of a tutor trying to help a helpless student. If this is possible of course the qualification in a certain subject should be the next criteria if a tutor should work as one. In my experience the emotional intelligence in a learning situation and the knowledge about learning techniques are the most important qualifications a tutor needs to really help. They are vital for a more effective learning experience which may activate motivation and free the way for happiness while learning. By these means the student will understand that he is learning for life.

Apart from that some basic knowledge how to structure a lesson and how to structure the learning matter are vital of course.

Be confident. If you have something to share and you are patient with other people and yourself you may be a good tutor! :-)

So much for a start in Nachhilfe ! :-)

Greeting all tutors and those wanna-bees ;-)


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