Instead of dropping a difficult student, implement systems to help them succeed
Whether you are a full-time educator or a part-time tutor, you’re sure to have “that one student” that makes you stress out. There are many ways an online tutoring client can become a pain. Often, it’s not at all about what happens in a teaching session. It would be easy to let go of a student that’s not particularly interested in the subject. The trouble comes when a student is passionate about learning, and makes you feel that spark that made you want to be an educator in the first place. Even though the learning aspect of your relationship with the student is great, they just seem to create trouble in terms of management.
Handle Money Professionally
Student management is a necessary part of being an online tutor, but it is far from the reason why educators love teaching. In other words, student management is a chore, and dealing with the troubles some students bring takes away from the enjoyment of teaching.
Some students force you to chase payments, which is a fundamentally awkward conversation to have. Whether a client is just too busy to pay attention or forgetful, having to contact them to ask for payment makes your job feel stressful and awkward. It’s enough of a problem that we’ve created a quick guide on dealing with “the money conversation“.
It seems that many who choose the path of an online educator have the personality that feels uncomfortable asking for payment, even when it’s well-earned. By creating payment systems and making your expectations and schedules clear up-front, outside of teaching time, can help reduce friction. You can also use online scheduling and outreach tools to give your student a gentle reminder without having to confront them about payment in person or via messages.
The Tutor.id tool, for example, was designed to make this process easy, letting the student pay immediately to reserve their time, without having to set a specific date. The student can make the decision and commitment to buy several hours of instruction, and schedule flexibly at a time that is convenient for them and you. Whatever approach you take, know that you are not alone in dreading this part of the job.
Value Your Time
Another common issue that kills an educator’s enjoyment of the teaching process is lack of boundaries with a student. If you feel like you’re forced to respond to random requests out of the blue, it’s time to set clear rules of engagement. An online tutor’s time is their most valuable asset. Interrupting the work of doing all those administrative chores in order to answer a student’s question might seem like the right choice, after all, you’re sacrificing doing what you dislike for doing what you love. This attitude opens you up to losing a ton of your valuable time.
Make sure to set clear expectations about your availability. The learning is supposed to happen during your scheduled session, and spending more than a few minutes a week on answering follow-up questions can mean less time for other students. If your student has a lot of follow-up questions, try to get them to create a list of them, and send them as one email or message before their next lesson. Another solution would be to create a separate time, or have a short tutoring session to handle questions half-way through your standard tutoring cycle. The Tutor.id platform provides a convenient way to message with your student that allows you to naturally batch-process requests when you log in, instead of being pinged by your phone through regular messaging apps.
Regardless of which solution you pick, remember that your time as an online tutor is valuable. Don’t let being accommodating and well-meaning take away this valuable resource from your business.
Endlessly shuffling your schedule to accommodate a student’s last-minute request can be exhausting. For an online tutor, being able to have a set plan is key to being relaxed, prepared, and fully invested in the moment. If you’re managing your tutoring schedule by hand, a last-minute cancellation or request for a change can wreak havoc on your schedule.
The last-minute cancellation in itself is an awkward topic. If you’ve allocated your time to teaching, only to have that commitment broken before you have time to schedule another session, you should absolutely get paid for the time. And yet, this can feel like a touchy subject, especially for the empathetic soul that often takes the path of becoming an online tutor. What’s worse, your student might feel cheated if you charge them for the time, without having had the cancellation policy made clear beforehand.
Aside from the cancellation policy, just scheduling time can be a hassle for an online tutor. Not only do you have to account for the difference in time zones, and keep track of where your students are, but if you don’t have a set schedule from the start, finding a free slot in both schedules can take up valuable time.
By using an online tool, like the Time and Date meeting planner, or a shared Google calendar, you can reduce this hassle significantly. The Tutor.id scheduling system was designed to take this solution one step further, allowing you to pre-sell lesson packages, and letting the student pick their time slot based on your published availability. With this approach, you don’t have to wait for the student to schedule a lesson to be paid, and it keeps your student motivated to make use of their already paid-for time. The flexible scheduling tool also allows the student to pick a time that works for them well in advance, based on your open time slots, without having to negotiate your schedule with endless back and forth. The automation of scheduling, as well as default enforcement of a clear and transparent cancellation policy, can eliminate unfortunate misunderstandings, and help you concentrate on what you love, teaching.
As an online tutor, and professional educator, you have a responsibility to your students, even the difficult ones. Abandoning these students just feels wrong, and many an educator turn inward, blaming themselves for their failures in managing these students better. To a degree, managing your time and creating predictable, transparent structures and expectations with your students can help take some of the pressure off the tutor. By using the right tools and systems you can help structure your tutoring to be more professional, making the process easier for the student and earning their trust in the process.
Don’t give up on “that one student”, and make your life easier by practicing professional, transparent processes in your online tutoring. And, if you’re ready to professionalize and scale your tutoring practice, check out all the free and premium options on Tutor.id.