The A-Z of Private Tutoring and Mentoring


Over 53% of public school children between the ages of 9 and 11 have private tutors helping them after school. I made that statistic up, but it might as well be true. The recession has caused a decrease in the job market and hence an increase in pressure amounted on young peoples to do well at school. In their darkest hours, parents and students have turned to the only dim light of hope that somehow still manages to perpetuate through the mist of despair and doubt cloaked over this youth’s future;

The private tutor.

Yes: the private tutor, clearly the right (wo-/)man for the job. With a degree in something irrelevant, no qualifications in teaching, and very little previous experience, who could ever stop them from getting any child to achieve all of his wildest dreams in grade attainment?

And if you’re fresh into the child-saving business, you may have a few questions about how exactly you are supposed to go about this mammoth feat. Well fret not… As known in the business, Sam ‘The Surefire Thing kid’ has got all the answers, so sit back, relax and digest this A-Z bible of the tutoring and mentoring world:

A – Anger Management

As much as you should always be playing the ‘cool friend teacher’ card, kids also need to know that you mean business and are not to be fucked with. Here I swear by the one sentence rule; if you are ever going to be angry, only ever raise your voice for one sentence, eg. ‘SIT IN THE FUCKING CHAIR’, then just continue talking normally and smiling as if nothing ever happened. Your students will be stunned, comply, and perhaps even possibly wonder if they just made the whole shouting thing up.

B – Brazilian Ju-Jitsu

If the last paragraph is about asserting dominance, what better way to cement it than a solid grounding in Brazilian Ju Jitsu? (cement.. grounding… themed verbs, just one of the many bits of extra thoughtfulness that you can come to expect here at This is a martial art that allows even small people to take down giants, and it can be – and has been – used to submit more rebellious and hyperactive children into doing more studying. Best of all it does not involve any striking or bruises, so things will not hold up in court.

C – Coach

Don’t be just a maths teacher, but become a life coach. The benefit of this is that you can then justify to yourself spending thirty minutes of the one hour lesson telling your favourite anecdotes, and walk away thinking that you in doing so taught your student something about life, and thus did your job.

D – Do It For Them

Doing things for students doesn’t help them in the long run. It’s that old expression where you give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but if you teach him how to fish he’ll eat for a year. Though however as much you should abide by this rule generally, if it’s coursework or anything that actually contributes towards their final grade, then yeh, just write it yourself.

E – Eleven Plus

If you are tutoring in England, then you’re a fool if you’re not specialising yourself towards the 11 plus. This is guaranteed weekly work for anything up to three years, and in a seasonal and unpredictable business it can give you your only guaranteed supply of weekly cash every week.

F – Fear

Tutoring is about establishing the exact correct amount of fear in your students, at the exact correct time intervals. Without fear the student will never work, but with too much they will be paralysed and lose hope. You need to be a constant reminder that failure in everything in their whole life is just looming round the corner behind those exams at the end of the year, yet also that with you and the right attitude, nothing will stop them from winning everything.

G – Gym

A sharp tutor is healthy in mind and body. While additionally so is a good Brazilian Ju Jitsu artist.

H – Hope

Never lose hope in your students. No matter how stupid someone is, and no matter how many times it seems that there is nothing you can do, they will always eventually surprise you.

I – Influence

You may forget just how maleable and impressionable a young mind is, and with your new found powers you must realise that you truly carry a lot of influence with your students. Hence with great power comes great responsibility and you must watch your words and actions accordingly. I sometimes smoked in front of a 15 year old student once and then he started to smoke within the next week, and I’ll forever (/most temporarily) feel guilty for this.

J: Jokes

In my experience if you are not laughing with your student every few minutes, then they’ll stop listening and become bored with you like they have with every other classroom and teacher. Feel the vibe of the room man, never let it get too serious.

K – Knowledge Fail

Not knowing the answers to stuff was something I was really afraid of when I started tutoring. But now it’s a daily occurrence and I’m pretty used to it. There’s two ways to play this when it happens, 1; just admit you don’t know it and say I’ll find out for next week, or 2; say ‘this one is a bit tricky so let’s just come back to it at the end of the hour’ and then hope that they forget about it, which they will.

L – Liquor

If you don’t get this kid a pass next week the superintendent’s gonna be blowing smoke so far up the principle’s ass that it’s gonna be coming out of his mouth and blowing all over my ass, and all that smoke up my ass means I’m gonna be shitting all over you and it’s gonna be a smoking ass shitstorm coming so hard down over your head that you ain’t gonna believe. That’s how I Imagine the tutoring life when presented as an American cop show… and when it’s only March and you’re already called in for the tenth case of literary homicide of the year, another Bronte classic laying soaked in the blood of red ink corrections after being raped and murdered in the first degree, like the central protagonist of one of these shows you too may find yourself turning to the bottle. Here a hip-flask and toilet breaks are your best friends, but make sure to stock up on the breath mints.

M – Molest

Don’t molest the children.

N – Nod pensively

Parents don’t give a crap about you. Generally speaking they only want to talk your ear off, and the best thing you can do is just listen. Avoid speaking too much about what your plans are with the kid as they’ll slowly realise that you are a massive blagger and don’t know what you’re doing. Just let them speak, say hmm a lot, and nod pensively. They’ll respect you for your seriousness and be intrigued by your veil of thoughtful mystery.

O – Off Shore Bank Accounts

With all the cash in hand work and self-employed nonsense, you’ll need to create an off shore bank account to evade the taxman. Don’t worry it’s easy, Ask men tell you how here.

P – Praise

Everything your kid does is fantastic, even when it’s awful. Make sure you are filling them with positive praise and energy at every opportunity.

Q – Questioning

Kids will do whatever they can to not listen to you. Every second that they are not listening is a small victory to them, especially when they manage to play it like they were paying the whole attention the whole time. They have many sly ways of doing this, so make sure you are asking questions at the end of every sentence to gauge exactly how much is going into their head.

R – Rewards

People need incentives. Offer rewards for if the kids do well, though know that you never actually have to fulfil your promises… There are a bunch of iGCSE taking kids around Milan at the moment to whom I owe a lot of Parman prosciutto.

S – School Sucks

Kids who need tutors are generally in this position because they hate school, often bunk, and even when at school spend most their time on their blackberries. Never try to convince them that school is actually fun. Better is to play the ‘I was also quite the bunker’ card and both agree that school is the worst time of your life, though also both agree to get through this together and come out the other side successfully like you did once upon a time.

T – Teach

Not to be forgotten, make sure to teach them something during your time together. Though also not to be overcomplicated, don’t get bogged down with yourself in the philosophies of teaching and technicalities of different methods… Just know that if by the end of the hour the kid knows stuff that he didn’t know before you came, then you did your job.

U – Unprepared

I can’t remember the last time I took some teaching materials to a lesson. Bringing materials means you are prepared to do those materials, while being completely unprepared means that you are technically equally prepared towards any task and hence truly flexible to your students’ needs.

V – Values

‘Dear, did you not have an English homework in for tomorrow though?’, this kind of innocent question at the dinner table is then often followed by a rapidly escalating tantrum and the teenager moping off to his room and slamming the door. If you have not seen these reactions to even the slightest of academic enquiry from a parent, then you have not been in the tutoring and mentoring game very long. However you my friend are in a rare position from which you can actually mitigate relations between parents and students. When mentoring you should use your influence and position to instill some old fashioned values into the child, and help them see their parents and others’ point of view.

W – Wrong

Man up when you are wrong about something, don’t give any excuses, just accept that you’re student beat you and that you weren’t correct. And then plot for revenge as to how you can show them up next time.

X – Xenophobia

While teaching subjects like geography or more wish-washy new subjects such as global perspectives, presented with all the global statistics of human activity, you may start going off on a rant about humanity as a plague to the Earth and how fucked we all are. If you do choose to do this however, do refrain from blaming India and China for having billions of children, while berating them for not having any means to properly support them. And then maybe don’t add that while birthrates in the west are wisely going down, people immigrating in from poorer countries are arriving and still having 15 kids, and th… yeh… avoid this kind of thing. Don’t make your students racist.

Y – Yapping

14/15 year old girls can be the pandora’s box of the tutoring clientele. Often initially quiet, you may desperately struggle to get even a few words from them at the start. However once the rapport is built and they’ve opened up a little, you may then find that they never stop talking, that the cat is out the bag, and in between hearing about why Alice isn’t speaking to Laura anymore it is getting increasingly difficult to find time to teach them anything. It’s rude to stop them mid-yapping as it will tell them you don’t care (which you don’t) though if you let it go on the rant may not end for another 10 minutes. The only solution is to stop the yapping before it starts; you must be vigilant for signs of the beginning of a long piece of gossip, and cut it at the root before it is allowed to flower across your whole lesson plan.

Z – Zahavi’s handicap Principle

In nature, male animals can often have debilitating traits that are considered ‘sexy’ by the female of the species. Examples of this are brightly coloured fish and birds (who are thus not able to camouflage), and deers with unnecessarily large antlers. Zahavi’s handicap principle stated that the reason females are attracted to these males is because the male has shown he is so strong that he can manage to survive comfortably despite handicapping himself with these ridiculous features.

Debilitate yourself as a tutor by not bringing a bag, nor making any effort with your appearance whatsoever. Though saying that let’s just quickly note now that this paragraph is not going to be about appearing ‘sexy’ to the students… Instead how this works is that you are sent to family’s homes through recommendation from either an agency, person or other client, yet you arrive looking completely unprofessional and often late. However parents know that you are trusted, and also see the reaction in the kid after the hour’s lesson and hopefully then the progress in the next weeks. They then look to their neighbour’s tutor wearing a “shirt” and carrying a “bag”, and see how he has to dress himself up just to survive in this game. They then reflect on their current tutor, knowing he must be the real deal if he can carry on working and being successful despite such debilitating traits in his appearance. Exceed where it matters, and fail where it doesn’t, this will only come to accentuate your success and strengths in the real meat of this whole business: getting the kid through school.

About Sam

Hi I'm Sam and I write here exclusively at Samuel's Travels. Exclusively as by and large no-one wants me writing anywhere else. Please enjoy yourself while reading.
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2 Responses to The A-Z of Private Tutoring and Mentoring

  1. Dan Cat says:

    Got dem mad blog skillz.

  2. Sam says:

    Hi Mum, no they won’t if they read this. Though then again they may have to as I’m the only option here.

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