For many years, one of my main roles at Winterwood was finding and recruiting tutors. This was mainly done – as is common in the industry – through networks, and it meant that I would be introduced to a lot of people with experience of tutoring, or the potential to grow into a fantastic teacher.
Experienced candidates are of course always an asset, as are testimonials and references from former clients. These things allow one to gauge the potential of the tutor, but I have always made a point of meeting tutors in person. I know that all reputable agencies do this – but I also know there are a lot of people out there who will link a tutor and client without having ever met either.
There are a host of reasons why this is unadvisable, but for me, it is simply unthinkable. Teaching – especially one-on-one tuition – is grounded in one’s character and charisma. Truly exceptional tutors are hard to find, and when I meet someone and I find myself rapt – rather than having to eke out information or drive the discourse – know the candidate will make a fine teacher.
I always make a point of asking three key questions. These provide a real insight into the tutor’s mindset.
1. Why do you want to teach?
Sadly a frequent answer is ‘money’! This is not what I am looking for! Another common response is ‘I don’t know’, or a apathetic shrug. Again, if I’m hit with this, the interview isn’t going well. I’m much more interested in candidates who talk about the meaningful nature of the work, the desire to make a difference, or the chance to inspire young minds.
2. What are your career aspirations?
I am always keen to get to know tutors that will work for Winterwood, and is is always interesting to know what inspires or drives them. I use this information to match students with like-minded tutors, and it also allows me to gauge the drive or focus of a candidate. I love to hear people talk about their passion or chosen vocation – and I always find it troubling when people seem apathetic about their future.
3. Teach me…
I always like to ask tutors a somewhat capricious question – to teach me a concept they have taught before, to explain their research focus or vocation as if I was six years old, or to explain an entrance exam topic to me. It is clear to me when a candidate has taught the subject before, has a real interest in teaching, or is used to inspiring and leading discussion – and equally clear when they do not!
I like to spend at least forty five minutes to an hour with prospective tutors, and whilst the discussion will often range from topic to topic I always ensure I ask these three questions. Good tutors enjoy teaching, have passion and drive and love to inspire and educate others, and if they can demonstrate these qualities I will look to introduce them to their first Winterwood student.