With summer just around the corner, kids tumbling out of school, it’s time to start thinking about lessons, whether your son was a little behind in class or you’re eager to give your daughter a head start on her big test. We spoke to Thumbtack pro Gary Orlin – a math tutor for twenty years – about his business, connecting with students and the art of teaching.
As a student – from high school through my graduate years – classmates turned to me for help with their studies. Over time, I became fascinated by how differently individuals would approach a single topic. How an explanation might be satisfying for one person but fall flat for another.
I’ve spent more than twenty years working one-on-one with students, but I’m still fascinated by that “Aha!” moment. Typical student comments at this point are “Wow, this is really easy” or “I don’t know why I’ve always had so much trouble with this” or “This is so simple, why wasn’t it explained this way in class?” This is music to my ears.
We are far from having an adequate theory of human learning, but someday research will yield techniques for getting students to this point quicker. For now, teaching is still more art than science and for me, this makes my work both challenging and rewarding.
Teachers need to be endlessly creative in their efforts to elicit the best intellectual outputs from their students. Each student has a unique combination of gifts, and teachers must find a way to help them bring those gifts to the table when it comes to their academic challenges.
How to Connect with Students
Connecting is easy. Accept students as they are right now, ascertain the immediate and longer-term challenges and take just a few first few steps to close that gap, all while letting students enjoy themselves.
Students who are behind need breathing room in order to feel confident they can catch up. Start by taking her a few steps ahead of the class so she can experience some small successes while we remediate the older poorly understood material.
Growing a Tutoring Business on Thumbtack
Thumbtack is a great resource that allows me to identify and interact with prospective clients to insure that my services are a good fit for their needs. I enjoy Thumbtack’s eclectic mix of elementary, middle, high school and college students, with their varied requirements for working with multiple curricula, enrichment topics and test preparation. Whether it’s a fifth grader taking Singapore Math, a homeschool student studying conic sections, or an adult returning to school after years in the workforce, we find each other on Thumbtack.
As a small business owner, I enjoy the freedom to treat each client as an individual, with no corporate “cookie-cutter” mandates to constrain the relationship.