My name is Dora, and I am an experienced IB Maths teacher. I have taught the subject for almost 10 years at all levels in an International School in Italy. Two years ago, I left my full-time job and started tutoring students online. I qualified as a Pamoja teacher in June, and in October I became a Pamoja Tutor.
The use of a new technology
Some of you might have asked the question, “is online tutoring as effective as face to face teaching?” I must admit, I’ve asked the same. However, since I live in the outskirts of a big city, with most of my potential students far away, I thought I’d give it a try.
I was afraid of relying solely on technology, but I decided to rise to the challenge, explore new opportunities, and adopt new approaches in the way that I teach.
In my lessons I share my screen, with a collaborative online whiteboard (Bitpaper). I think it is an amazing tool; I prepare my lessons on here and share the link with my students before the lessons.
If they have the graphics pad they can also write on the slides. The file gets saved and students can revisit the lesson notes whenever they need to. Below is an example of my screen during a recent IBDP Mathematics Analysis and Approaches HL lesson.
I have important and useful website links and documents bookmarked for every lesson which I can access at a click of a button, avoiding wasting time on trying to find the material in a book or folder.
For example, I have quick links to all Formula Booklets, Past Papers, an online graphing software and scientific calculator and my folders of resources organized by course and topic.
What about lack of knowledge and face to face contact with the student?
I believe this was more of a concern for me than for my students. For Millennials or Generation Z it is natural to attend online courses, use online resources, and keep in touch with family via Skype, so why would taking lessons from an online tutor be an exception?
I always offer my students a free meeting and a trial lesson so we can have an informal chat and get to know each other before we begin. I find this useful as I gain a better understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and the targets they want to achieve.
I plan my lessons carefully, discuss with my students where we should move onto next so I can select the tasks accordingly. Since I am very experienced in face to face teaching, I can assess student knowledge and skills quickly and address it with appropriately challenged activities.
I also encourage students to submit any reports, grades and past test papers to me, in order to make this assessment process as quick as possible.
Is geographical and cultural distance a concern?
More of an opportunity! You may not be able to find a face to face tutor in your town, because they are busy after school when it would be suitable for you to take lessons. Problem solved, you can find a tutor online, possibly in a different time zone!
I have students in most continents, and I enjoy adapting my teaching to their varied learning styles and problem-solving approaches.
Is online tutoring for you?
People have the misconception that tutoring is for students who struggle, and the sessions are led by the student deciding the topic area to work on. Partly yes, but there is so much more to it. It is often the case that a student uses online tutoring to take their grades to the next level, using tutoring as that extra push!