Welcome to the second post in our Tutors of London series, where we get insights into the lives and drives of some of Londons best private tutors!
(If you missed the first post, check it out here…)
Millions of private tutoring lessons are taking place every single week in the UK, whether it be in student’s homes, local libraries or cafes. Yet although there are so many lessons and hundreds of thousands of private tutors in the UK, the industry still remains one of the least researched and least well-understood today.
Being a tutoring company, and one that works very closely with parents and tutors, our team is able to see firsthand the amazing work that tutors really do. Since we launched the platform in 2018, our tutors have helped hundreds of students improve their grades and get accepted onto their first choice university courses. So, we felt it was right to “unmask” the heroes behind the private tutoring industry and show them off to the world, for the first time…
Our team at Tutorean have been spending the past few months meeting tutors in their favourite spots in London. Tutors picked a spot that best represents their personality; one that they’re most fond of and somewhat attached to. Then we interviewed tutors to get to know them even better, before taking professional photos to capture their humanity (you can see more on our Instagram page). We’ve been getting to know our tutors on a more intimate level and trying to understand why it is they do what they do and what impact they’re making.
In this second post, we meet Alexandra, a creative young private tutor in maths, sciences and English as a second language. She is a self-professed “spontaneous perfectionist” who is both curious and dedicated in her private tutoring career.
Alexandra is currently an undergraduate at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, the London School of Economics, where she is taking her bachelors degree in Economics. She has been a private tutor for three years, has mentored with children’s educational charities and has expanded her teaching from maths, science and english to psychology and art.
We hope you enjoy following our journey through London, and in this post learning more about Alexandra and the amazing work she is doing with the world’s future generation (our children!).
“I was born in Moldova in Chișinău, the capital. I moved to London when I was 15, so about 5 years ago.
I started tutoring just a couple of years after I moved here, in 2016. My first tutoring job came about when I was volunteering. I was a mentor in a charity which was helping disadvantaged young school children push the boundaries of what they could strive for and achieve. It was essentially an after school club and there were lots of groups of primary school kids. I taught them maths and engineering in new, engaging and fun ways to help expand their creativity. Because of the children’s backgrounds, it was clear to see they had it tough. It was so rewarding seeing their eyes light up and knowing that I could have made a difference in just one of their lives.”
“I’d say that I am a person who enjoys learning and gaining knowledge. I know that not everyone finds learning as an enjoyable thing to do and most people, especially kids sometimes, really don’t like school or studying in general. There are so many reasons why that might be the case. Sometimes it can be caused by the experience they had with certain teachers in the past, or even just something a teacher said to them once. Other times it’s because they’ve experienced too much pressure put on them either from their teachers, parents or friends at school.
As a tutor, what I want to do is to help my students to discover, or rediscover, their love for knowledge and learning. That means one day they will be able to study for themselves and not for anybody else or just for the grades. I want to help my students grow so that in the future they can progress in academia – maybe they’ll go on to study a masters at uni, maybe even a PhD…who knows. But for sure at least they will enjoy studying as a process itself, rather than seeing it as a means to an end.
One time I was teaching an 8 year old girl. I think she was my youngest ever student and her parents had asked me to teach her maths. The little girl was energetic and very active, so it was quite hard to make her sit for more than 10 minutes in order to teach her maths. Her parents sort of pressured me to teach her in that way, you know, have her sit down and write out arithmetic. But after a few days when it was just not working, I went with my intuition and we started role-playing. She was the teacher and I was the student. I gave her a black board, she dressed up and I made her teach me. I was asking all sorts of questions – I was being really curious and expressive. The girl had a range of colourful pens she’d prepared and from her face it was clear that she was suddenly excited about maths. Maybe for the first time! After that day, she asked me to do the same thing everyday. Things just spiralled from there and she became one of the top performing and most confident maths student in her class.
When it comes to private tutoring, I teach a range of subjects. I tutor economics first and foremost, because that’s what I’m studying at an advanced level for my degree. But I also teach what I studied at A levels because I studied them quite recently and understand the ins and outs of the syllabus. I studied Science (Biology and Chemistry) and also Maths, which is actually my favourite subject. I can also teach English to foreign students, whose first language isn’t English and they either need to improve their current speaking ability – or learn from scratch.
In terms of students I ‘prefer’ to teach…
Well, I do love teaching students that are genuinely curious about learning and motivated in engaging different material. With those students, even if they don’t understand something they will keep working hard at it, even if they fail sometimes. Especially in maths, you can fail a lot times but it’s always about the times when you don’t give up and keep going until you get it right. Then you’ll remember the journey of how you kept making mistakes and finally had the ‘a-ha!’ moment. It requires perseverance to break through failure and come out not only knowledgeable, but enlightened and confident.
“I gave her a black board, she dressed up and I made her teach me. I was asking all sorts of questions, she had prepared a range of colourful pens and was suddenly excited about maths. After that day she asked me to do the same everyday.”
I approach teaching using the same mindsets I’ve imitated from the teachers I loved most when I was a student. I think the best teaching method, if you like, is being creative. All of the students I’ve taught and am going to teach are all completely different. You have to adjust your methods according to who they are and how they personally learn effectively. Sometimes when I’m tutoring, I am learning as well, because to get some students to engage you have to be the one learning new methods on how to approach the subject in a fun and creative way. And I think thats why I love tutoring, because it’s really never predictable!”
“I chose Covent Garden for Tutors of London because when I lived with my family before university, we lived quite far away from the city. So I never really came into central London. But once I came to university, this became the place I would come to a lot! Especially when I felt sad, frustrated, tired or stressed after classes, I would just come here at night, because there is always something fun happening. One day there would be acrobats, another day an orchestra, comedian or musicians singing outside. I would always just grab some food and sit outside on a pavement and enjoy the atmosphere around me. It always felt really magical, in a way…
Interesting facts about me? Ahh… well, my two favourite books are Dostoyevsky: Crime and Punishment and the other one is The Portrait of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. And I am a very passionate food traveller, so if any student would like to give me any interesting food travelling recommendations they will get extra points form me!”
Thank you for reading our second Tutors of London story. We hope you enjoyed it.
A special thank you to our wonderful photographer, Katerina, who so authentically gets to connect with our tutors on a more personal level – and take amazing shots! And for Alexandra for meeting with us, giving her time and for her commitment to students London-wide.
If you would like to get in touch with Alexandra, you can find her profile here and contact her for free on the Tutorean platform. Alexandra specialises in Economics at GCSE and A Level. She also tutors Maths, Biology, Chemistry, History, Psychology, Romanian and teaching English as a second language.
For further advice on whether your child need’s a private tutor, or how to go about finding one, check out our ultimate tutoring guide.