Two months ago we posted an article entitled: We MUST Engage Our Kids. Here we listed what we considered the necessary ingredients for a teacher to conduct a successful math class. These were passion, real-world problems, humor, and caring. The other day I was chatting with Vijay, a math tutor working in Romania, and he sent me a short article he had written about how he had started tutoring. I found it fascinating. Two of the ingredients really stood out (though I’m sure he uses all four). Can you guess which two? Here is his article.
It all started about two and a half years ago when I was told to leave Oracle where I was working in Bucharest as an educational consultant. I felt dejected, confounded, and lost until my dear wife suggested that I look at my Curriculum Vitae and pointed out that I had achieved the highest grades in my high school math classes. I had always taken a special interest in math, encouraged by a teacher who used to coach me extra hours on the weekends in her home. With her guidance and my continuous practice I achieved first in the math public exam in Mumbai.
“Why don’t you work as a math tutor,” my wife suggested, “a freelance math instructor.”
With my wife’s help I created a brief about myself and distributed fliers in the various international schools here in Romania as well as to all my expat contacts. A few days later, I received a letter from a parent looking for a math tutor for her child. She requested a face-to-face interview and after talking with the parents I formed a class for their child, meeting once a week. This began my career as a math tutor.
Today, I have 28 students, all coached by me, with ages ranging from those in 2nd grade to 12th. Boy, am I ever inspired to give the best to them. Just watching them progress inspires me. I had a student who jumped from Grade D to Grade A in one academic year.
They work in tandem with me and do all the homework and tests I give them. I count on internal motivation and encourage them a lot. They get plenty of positive feedback from me and I give them choices in their homework.
I work seven days a week, totaling around 60 hours a week. As the great Chinese philosopher said, “If you love what you are doing, you will never work the rest of your life.” I love math because it allows me to exercise my brain continuously and also gives me a lot of self-confidence. It’s nice to know that I’m responsible for shaping so many students’ careers.