One day on Facebook, I posted "Do you travel for tutoring?" and Becca Gordon replied "Yes..for 99 percent! Then one on Skype!" I was stunned! Skype? The thought had never occurred to me. I had to find out more from Becca. She graciously agreed to doing an interview. Here's what I asked her:
Q: Tell us a little about how you got starting tutoring students.
A: When I was in college I began tutoring through word of mouth from family friends. My tutoring business quickly picked up when I began teaching test preparation and AIS (academic instructional support) in one of the NY public schools. After the children moved on from the classes, the parents would contact me and ask me to continue working with their child throughout the school year. Some of my business is still through word of mouth from families that I have had the privilege to work with over the years. I even had two parents, within the last year, post on Facebook that if anyone was looking for a tutor they would recommend me and I currently have one client from a mother posting about her positive experiences of having her son work with me.
Q: What subjects do you tutor?
A: I am a NYS certified teacher for grades 1-6. I hold a degree in Childhood Education. My undergraduate degree is in Liberal Arts: Spanish. I currently tutor grades 2, 5, 6 and I have two college students. Both college students I have worked with since High School. I work with them on how to take notes from their textbooks, study skills, time management and editing essays.
Q: How did you get into tutoring on Skype?
A: I started tutoring over Skype for two main reasons. The first reason I began tutoring over the computer was due to the fact that my clients live in various different towns. With all the time I spent traveling I could have been tutoring more children! Between the travel time itself and the price of gas I was asking myself how could I eliminate those two problems. Then it hit me! I thought if we can deposit checks via our phones I can certainly tutor via technology!
Q: What have you learned about tutoring using Skype?
A: I have learned that Skype tutoring can sometimes be a challenge for multiple reasons. Usually the tutor shows up at the clients home and the client knows this is their appointed time of instruction. In this case both parties must remember the time of the appointment, have their computer charged and remember to sign on.
I have had times where the video has jumped or I could not hear the client and in that case I have had to reboot or try iChat. The hardest part in those situations is to stay calm. I have learned that through screen sharing on my Mac book, I can control the screen so my clients are not on Facebook, Twitter or any other websites that they should not be on during this time. Tutoring on the computer also allows for both the client and tutor to research which if done appropriately can maximize the session.
Q: Do you like tutoring on Skype enough to maybe seek out more clients using it?
A: I like tutoring on Skype. At this time I only tutor college students on Skype because they are able to be accountable to remember their sessions, can clearly communicate their needs and have their work pre-prepared which allows me to see what needs to be worked on. With my elementary students I feel that their focus may not be on the tutoring session and they may be more distracted. I am also not sure if a parent would feel comfortable having their child video chat with a stranger. I also prefer to use tons of manipulatives with my elementary students and that is a component that I cannot execute over the computer (at this time).Q: How do you handle billing?
A: Both of the children that I tutor over Skype, I meet with the parents on a month basis and get paid. I type up an itemized bill, which includes the dates of service and how long each session was. I have worked with both of these parties in person previously to working with them on Skype. As time goes on, if I should get more students for Skype tutoring I might set up a papal account for parents to pay per session. That is still something I have in the back of my mind for future services as my business expands.
Thanks Becca for sharing your insight on this! If you want to learn more about some of basic materials and tools you'll need to run Skype on your computer, read more here at eHow.