How My Experience As A Private Tutor Has Helped Me During My Teacher Training 

Hi all, I am a current teacher trainee in secondary mathematics and wanted to write about how my experience as a private mathematics tutor, for 2 years before starting my training, helped secure my place as a trainee teacher and onto the scholarship programme. 


Subject Knowledge
I started my career as a private tutor by not even tutoring at all! I felt that I could do the majority of mathematics at secondary level (I mean, I had just finished a mathematics degree!) but I wasn’t sure I was confident in exactly what students needed to know. In the first month, I bought myself an up-to-date CGP textbook for secondary mathematics and revised! I soon discovered there was actually a lot of mathematics I hadn’t used since secondary school and I had forgotten! Now, 2 years on, I am confident in saying that I know the secondary mathematics curriculum almost inside-out!   

Every tuition session came with “Thea, can you explain this one specific piece of mathematics to me?” so, I would have to come up with a coherent, terminologically correct, visual explanation on the spot. Now, starting off I was terrible at this and often referred to my trusty textbook. But, as time went on, I automatically created a bank in my head of fabulous ways to explain complex mathematics! 

In the classroom, there will be occasions where students will have a question you hadn’t anticipated or the class are confused and you're not sure why! – handling this will require a good bank of ways to re-explain concepts. This bank will develop greatly over the course of training!  

Starting as a tutor, I naively thought that I could use the same general session plan for ALL of my students. No, no, no … I was so wrong! ALL of my tutees had completely different needs so I had to have a different plan for every single tutee.  

As a trainee teacher, you will soon discover that the general plan you have for one class will not at all work for another. Additionally, what works for some students in one class will not work for other students in that same class. This year so far has really shown to me how I can use my understanding of differences within students to adapt my teaching. 

Making peace with getting it wrong sometimes

I still remember ‘fondly’, in my first year of tutoring, the time I was asked a question by a tutee that I had no idea how to answer (it was about knowing whether or not a fraction terminates just by looking at its denominator), I turned to my trustee textbook and we looked for an answer together–now, it wasn’t something that I could completely understand by first glance. We muddled through trying to decide on an answer, then attempted some practice and realized we still didn’t understand. We were near the end of the session so I called it day. I felt the need to apologize to her parents who were sat in the room next door listening in. Her mum was immediately gracious about it and stated that she would never expect me to know everything inside-out! I was a little taken back by how much she wasn’t worried about me messing up like this. 

The point here is that you will make mistakes! Sometimes, what you think are mistakes are often not that big of a deal! And, as long as you go away and improve, that’s what matters most! 

By Thea Andrews



Message from the Scholarship Team

You can apply to the Scholarships with a 2:2 degree classification, providing you can demonstrate 'significant relevant experience'. Also you can apply before completing your subject knowledge enhancement course. See our eligibility criteria on our About Us page and our FAQs.



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