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Expert Advice on Becoming a Better Tutor and Expanding Your Tutoring Business

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Recently, I had the great opportunity to interview Dr. Alicia Holland-Johnson, author of Becoming a Better Tutor and the book series Expand Your Tutoring Business. In response to some of the needs and concerns of tutoring professionals today, I wanted to learn about Dr. Holland-Johnson’s professional advice on tutoring trends, best practices, and her expert advice regarding the educational impact of the Common Core State Standards, specifically with tutoring programs and services.

As a founder of The Tutor Outreach Group, an organization dedicated to helping tutors worldwide, Dr. Holland consults and coaches both tutors and tutoring business owners regarding their unique business needs. Dr. Holland is a member of the Association of the Tutoring Profession (ATP) and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). She regularly speaks at major conferences each year on topics related to particularly tutoring programs and services.

Outside of tutoring, she is also an online professor in the Graduate School of Education and serves as a Dissertation Mentor, Committee, or Chair to doctoral learners on their dissertation journey.

Dr. Holland started her teaching career at the age of 20 and later earned her doctorate degree in Education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 2010 at the age of 26. To learn more about her work and experience, please visit her professional and personal website at: www.dr-holland.com.

Norfina: In your field of work, what are some of the common trends you find in tutoring practices today? What would you say are the most popular form of delivery now (face-to-face, group tutoring, peer etc)? Can you explain some of these trends helped transform our tutoring practices and delivery of services?

Dr. Holland Johnson: In my field of work, the common trends have been that more students and families are looking for help in all academic areas, with an increase in History. I think that more students and families are electing online tutoring programs and services - both 24/7 in-demand and online individualized tutoring sessions. However, there are some families that are reluctant to try it unless it is from a local tutoring provider that has been recommended.

In my opinion, the most popular form of delivery is all of them. It really boils down to the learner’s preferred method of learning and what tutoring modality is being offered to both students and families. Online tutoring is constantly gaining popularity, but there’s so many ways to deliver tutoring online.

Social media has helped tutoring companies market their services in more than one geographical area. Therefore, this is a great way to find clients and/or educate them about the various tutoring services available. When it comes to the Internet, many individuals are tutoring using Skype or another online tutoring platform. But, it’s very important to be selective about the online tutoring platform because not all platforms are created equal.

In my book, Starting and Operating an Online Tutoring Business Book, I go into more deal about specific guidelines that are necessary for quality effective online tutoring sessions. These same guidelines will help tutoring business owners who desire to work with state and federal governments to ensure that their online tutoring program meets the requirements and are deemed valid and reliable based upon specific documentation discussed in my book.

Norfina: You’ve consulted private tutoring programs and service providers. In your experience, what are some of the key challenges in starting a tutoring business? What solutions do you find most helpful for those planning to start a tutoring company or private practice?

Dr. Holland-Johnson: Some of the key challenges in starting tutoring business range from finding clients, building a quality curriculum that does not infringe upon copyright laws, finding and retaining quality tutors, and finding ways to expand their tutoring practice. I have three solutions that I find most helpful for those planning to start a tutoring practice:

First Solution: Start small and start locally. This is the first step in trying to ensure that you are able to meet the demand of such a growing market. Once a client has been successful, he or she will share the good news and more clients will find you without even marketing. In my opinion, this is the best type of business to get because they already know your work.

Second Solution: Tutor in Subjects that You Know. It’s important that you go into business that you know something about. That way, you can get results with your clients. Also, when it comes time to hiring tutors, if one of them is not able to cover the assignment, then you will be able to take care of it and the client still gets the tutoring in which he or she needs.

Third Solution: Plan, plan, plan. You need to figure out what your vision is for your tutoring practice. It is going to take off and clients will need your services so it’s best to plan now. To help you with that, you need to check out my Expanding Your Tutoring Business Book Series that can be found on Amazon.com or other major bookstores.

Depending on where you are in your tutoring business, that’s how you will decide to use my resources available to you. If you want more support, then you can sign up for any of my online tutor courses to help you and I can work one-on-one with you. For tutoring business owners, you can find those on my Expand Your Tutoring Business Blog. If you are just starting out as a private tutor, then you can check out my Becoming a Better Tutor Blog. Lastly, if you are interested in starting an online tutoring business or expanding your existing practice to include an e-learning component, then you need to check out My Online Tutoring Business Blog.

In addition to these solutions, it is very important to have the passion for helping others believe in themselves and go far. The passion is what is going to help you get through the tough tutoring assignments and it will keep your perspective on what truly matters—the clients. Equally important, a strong tutoring environment is important. I discuss more about this for tutors in my first book Becoming a Better Tutor, 2nd Edition.

In addition, for tutoring business owners, you may want to monitor tutors to ensure that quality tutoring sessions are being conducted. You can read more about my frameworks in the Volume 4 book of the Expanding Your Tutoring Business book series

Norfina: My readers vary from tutoring professionals, CEO and Directors of tutoring companies, and private tutors. With the Common Core shift impacting the educational system in most states, what is your advice for them?

My advice for your readers regarding the Common Core State Standards movement is to be a lifelong learner and be open to making changes for the better. In the tutoring setting, this means that it is very important to be a part of a professional organization and actively participate so that your voice can be heard. Not to mention, this is a great way to meet like-minded professionals who you can network with and collaborate on how to address this movement.

In tutoring, there is a special place for everybody to serve others so collaboration is definitely encouraged. By thinking of tutoring this way, it aligns with serving a higher purpose for humanity. There are two recognized professional tutoring organizations—The National Tutoring Association (NTA) and the Association of the Tutoring Profession (ATP) that have professionals share their knowledge and also offer professional development to help you grow as well.

In addition to this, I also recommend that you join a specific content area or leadership professional organization to stay abreast of what is to come.

The bottom line is that effective tutoring still depends on good instruction and the overall quality of both the tutor and tutoring session. Therefore, it is very important for your readers to use my frameworks to help evaluate tutoring sessions and coach tutors to becoming better. You can read more about my frameworks in the Volume 4 book of the Expanding Your Tutoring Business book series.

(I would like to thank Dr. Holland-Johnson for sharing her expertise and experience with tutoring businesses and services. To learn more about her written publications and website mentioned in this interview, please check out www.Amazon.com and www.dr-holland.com).

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