🤔Ever felt that twinge of competition in our tuition industry? I certainly have!
As self-employed tutors, it’s easy to view each other as competitors rather than colleagues. There was a time when I was constantly looking over my shoulder, wondering if other tutors were getting ahead, securing more students, or discovering innovative teaching techniques.
I found myself comparing my progress to others, feeling less confident and successful than the tutors I saw online. Why were they thriving while I felt left behind? Why did they seem to manage things and reach levels of apparent success more than I was? 😰 These feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and annoyance with them and myself would often creep in, leaving me questioning what I was doing wrong.
Keep reading to find out 5 Effective Ways to Foster Collaboration in the Tutoring Community.
Journeying Solo: The Early Days of My Tutoring Career
I have been in the tuition industry for well over 10 years, and for about the first 7 years, I worked locally and in person, mainly travelling to the students’ houses. At that time, I felt very isolated and didn’t know any other tutors in my local area. I could google and find a few big tuition centres nearby, but I didn’t know anyone else doing what I was doing, let alone actually ‘know’ them…
When I wasn’t in a school environment, I didn’t have a supportive network of colleagues and felt like I was dealing with my worries alone for years. This time in my career wasn’t a particularly happy one, and I lived a very solitary existence. I loved working with my students and got great satisfaction from seeing them start to thrive. Nevertheless, as an adult with almost no other adult company during most of the day, at times, it was bleak.
If I had not also been living and working part-time in a boarding school as a house parent (which, again, I was mainly with children) but I did at least have some adult contact from that part of my working life, I don’t think I could have carried on as long as I did.
In fact, when a daytime role in the Learning Support department became available, I jumped at the chance to step back out of the private tuition industry and work as a staff member within my school. I was still tutoring 121 in the same way, but with structure and proper colleagues to interact with daily. Sadly I was only in this role for just over a year before we moved as a family away from the Midlands.
A New Chapter: Embracing Technology in Tutoring
The next stage in my tuition journey was when I relocated back to the South West and relaunched my tuition services, needing to start again from scratch. I set myself back up and initially tutored in person, driving around the countryside every evening.
But now there was a difference. By this time, so much had changed in the world of technology, and I was able to start to get to know about other tutors. Facebook groups were now a thing! That was a huge step forward for me, and initially, I relished starting to know that there were other tutors out there in the ether. I no longer felt nearly as isolated. It was fab. 😊👍
I started using social media to market my business rather than just local word of mouth and leaflets. The more I learned about social media, engaged in this new exciting tuition market, and started to step out of my tiny bubble, the more I started to feel out of my depth.
Despite having been teaching and tutoring for over 20 years, at that point, I now felt like I didn’t know what I was doing 😮Wow! That now opened me up to the huge feelings of inadequacy I mentioned at the start. 😭 Knowing that others were seemingly wildly successful made me feel worse about my business. As I was still working in person, finding out about other tutors in my locality amplified the feeling that we were all competing for the same students, and I was losing the race compared to others.
A Paradigm Shift: From Competition to Collaboration
Then something else happened, and I started to approach the situation differently. By being part of online communities of tutors, I started to find others who supported each other rather than being competitive about how well they were doing.
A very wise tutor called Holly Billinghurst, who went on to form the Tutors Learning Network, said something like, ‘Don’t compare your page 1 or 2 with someone else’s page 10.’ This hit home, and I often need to remind myself of the message behind it.
Unless we know them well, comparing ourselves if we have no idea how much further along their business development journey someone is only tends to create self-doubt. We are all at different stages and with a myriad of variable circumstances. All that matters is that we are doing our best with our students and running our businesses at that point. Months or years later, we may have a different take on the situation and would make changed decisions, but right now, as long as we are trying our best, that’s all that matters.
Embracing a Global Classroom: Going Fully Online
With a renewed mindset, I embarked on the third phase of my tuition journey: going fully online with my tutoring. This was a game-changer. No longer was I limited to my local community or region – the world was now my classroom.
I had long since realised that my earning potential was capped by the number of students I could teach in the short after-school window. Due to distances between families, I was limited in how many I could fit in each evening. Driving around the countryside in all weathers and traffic jams meant that tutoring in this way would never give me viable full-time earnings.
Something needed to change. When living at the school, I had been able to change most students over so that they travelled to me. That way, I could fit them back-to-back and get 1 more student in each evening. But in our new home, I no longer had space to have a dedicated teaching room; I had no choice but to be the one travelling.
I had wanted to go online, which I knew would work and enable me to develop my tuition. But, until the pandemic grew and a lockdown loomed, families didn’t want this. I moved over entirely online a few weeks before lockdown and have never looked back!
Teaching in my specialist niche, I find myself attracting students not just in South West England but across the whole UK and even potentially around the globe. The scale of my impact expanded dramatically, and with it, so did my collaborations.
Reimagining the Narrative: From Rivals to Allies in Tutoring
But what if we flip the script? 🔄
Imagine a world where we view each other as allies in the shared journey of tutoring, where we see competition as collaboration, and where we work together to raise the standards of tutoring and enrich the lives of our students. Sounds good, right?
I truly believe that collaboration is the key to our growth and success. There’s enough room for everyone; when one of us wins, we all win, and if we win, so do all our students!
I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with so many wonderful tutors worldwide. Some of these collaborations have blossomed into friendships, and we’ve even had the chance to meet up in real life.
The ability to collaborate on such a vast scale while still maintaining personal connections has been an incredibly rewarding aspect of my online tutoring journey.
Since a shift in my mindset, I don’t feel threatened by others’ knowledge or success. Well, ok, sometimes it does creep back in, but I now know to acknowledge the feeling and take a moment to reflect and then move on.
So, how do we shift from a negative isolated and competitive mindset to one of collaboration and camaraderie? I’ve got some ideas that might help.
Here are 5 ways to transform your mindset and feel part of a collaborative tuition community:
1. Connect, Don’t Compete: The Power of Networking
👥 Ever attended a tutor meet-up? It’s a great way to exchange ideas, discuss challenges, and feel a sense of community. It’s amazing how a simple conversation can spark a new idea or solution. Taking that extra step to chat in real-time, not just in messages, makes a big difference in developing a sense of belonging and camaraderie. There are in-person meet-ups, too, not just virtual ones on Zoom. Not feeling isolated as a tutor has a powerful impact on your well-being. So let’s not isolate ourselves; let’s reach out and connect!
To start you off to meet like-minded tutors, I can recommend Holly’s Tutors Learning Network UK https://www.facebook.com/groups/911562942712660.
2. Shared Ambitions: Uniting through Common Goals
🎯 Let’s talk about our tutoring goals and challenges. I bet you have more to share than you realise. As you grow your tutor support network, chat with others about your ideas and thoughts. By discussing these, we can help each other out and even form collaborations that lead to shared victories.
I have learned that I have something useful to offer. Over the last few years, I have participated in several community-based events. I have been a guest on the Qualified Tutor Podcast. This is my episode https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/dyscalculia-how-to-manage-maths-anxiety/id1502625265?i=1000504625734.
I have also briefly appeared on three other podcasts.
- Claire Riley’s Education Business podcast https://open.spotify.com/episode/4ZECmwMvONuw4a9MDGZtG4?si=24855cf3a54a4f84 as part of the series 064 & 065, and
- Complete Mathematics Teaching Podcast Together https://open.spotify.com/episode/3XqN2sGbowDPNBbCyYPxiU?si=ad55b3ce5dc24619 and
- Upgrade Your Education Business Podcast https://open.spotify.com/show/7MUg7XTAWGdzxnC9SttYIs?si=e6bac408aeb54acf
I have also taken part in two roundtable interviews,
- ‘Getting Known As A Go-To In Your Niche’ https://www.facebook.com/groups/upgradeyoureducationbusiness and
- https://youtu.be/BRyfegdxwmU Tutors Learning Network ‘What is a Professional Tutor?’
After the summer, I will be appearing on my local radio Radio Bath https://radiobath.com/ to discuss how to support your child if they have Maths Anxiety. I have been networking regularly with the radio station at local business events, and I am excited to get the opportunity to reach out to the community and help more families. Other podcasts and radio stations will also be interested in having you as a guest expert too.
Sharing my expertise in these ways is very rewarding, and spreading the word will ultimately help more students. What could you do to connect with others?
3. Grow Together: The Power of Resource Sharing
📖 If I come across a helpful tip, tool, enlightening article, or innovative teaching method, I’ll be sure to share it. I’d love it if you did the same. Share it with your fellow tutors in Facebook groups or on your social media posts. Sharing our resources and ideas helps us all grow and benefits all our students!
I have been a speaker at the first two Qualified Tutor – Love Tutoring Festivals, sharing my knowledge and expertise about Maths Anxiety and Dyscalculia. https://youtu.be/U75nicgkptk
I have also been interviewed by Charlotte Watson as part of Children’s Mental Health Week about Maths Anxiety https://www.facebook.com/572317315/videos/680775996273002/
Sharing our resources and ideas helps us all grow and benefits all our students!
4. Cheer Each Other On: Celebrating Collective Success
🎉When one of us succeeds, it’s a win for all of us. So, if you’ve had a breakthrough with a student, reached a milestone, or implemented an excellent new idea, don’t be shy about sharing it! Let’s foster a culture of celebrating each other’s victories, not out of boastfulness, but out of mutual respect and joy. Share your successes and encourage others to do the same!
I have a private LinkedIn group for tutors who have taken my courses or other training. https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12659488/ I hope that in the next few months, more clients will start to join the group, and we can build up some momentum. I started it for peer-to-peer support and as a safe space to share your successes in implementing any strategies you have learned in the courses or anywhere else.
It doesn’t need to be in my group; it can be anywhere that you can actively celebrate the success of others. Reading a post on social media? Rather than continuing to scroll, give it a like but also post a supportive comment. It only takes a few minutes, and it will help boost their confidence and also help their algorithms so they become more visible to their followers. If you do it for them, the likelihood is that they will comment on your posts too!
5. Stronger Together: Embracing Collaboration over Competition
🤝Why not team up with another tutor to create a workshop or study group? It benefits not only the students but also us tutors. If workshops aren’t your thing, how about partnering with a like-minded tutor who teaches a different subject? Take time to get to know them and ensure you have the same ethos. Then you can refer students to each other, ensuring they get the best possible tutoring experience.
I have several tutors I pass students onto. There are two English tutors and also a couple of fellow maths tutors. Why would I refer students to other maths tutors? I now specialise in just teaching those students who really struggle with maths. That is my niche. Maths Anxiety and also Neurdivergent pupils who may or may not also be Maths Anxious. As a result, I virtually never teach the top end of the GCSE Higher tier syllabus anymore and am deskilled, but for my two maths colleagues, that is their bread and butter.
Also, by knowing many tutors and what they focus on, if I am full to new students and operating a lengthy waiting list and get new enquiries I know I can’t help anytime soon, I can refer them to someone I know can help the child quicker. It becomes a mutually beneficial agreement.
Who do you know already that you could do this with?
Your Turn: How Will You Foster Collaboration in Tutoring?
And there you have it, 🖐 five ways to shift our mindset from competition to collaboration. Imagine the possibilities if we all started working together, sharing, and supporting each other. The tutoring community would be a more enriching, rewarding place for us all.
This journey starts with a single step 👣👣👣Maybe that’s reaching out to a fellow tutor for a chat or starting a conversation in a tutor group. 💬Whatever it is, I encourage you to take that step today. Reach out, share, and collaborate.
Remember, we’re not competitors; we’re colleagues. And as colleagues, let’s lift each other up. 🤝
Let’s start a conversation right here. 💬 Share in the comments what one specific step you will take this week to promote collaboration over competition? I can’t wait to see the creative ways we can all work together.
#ColleaguesNotCompetitors #TutoringCommunity #ShiftYourMindset