One of the first things Diane Goodpasture of Blair Tutorial Agency will tell you is this isn’t babysitting. As a substitute teacher with Metro Nashville Public Schools and tutor for the past decade, she fully expects the coursework to be done. Even if someone else is teaching her student on the other end of the screen.
Keep in mind, students won’t be expected to sit in front of a screen for six and a half hours a day. Teachers have been instructed to limit the time for live virtual lessons, while the rest of the time students can use to work at their own pace.
This is where Goodpasture says students can easily lose focus.
“With kids, someone has to stay on them to make sure they actually do the work,” said Goodpasture.
Which is what makes tutors like her and the countless others in such high demand.
Last week Metro Nashville Public Schools announced students would begin the first part of the year online, at least through Labor Day.
This forced parents to get creative in finding ways to keep their students focused on their school work, but just as important is having an extra pair of eyes.
Katy Schmitt owns Thrive Tutoring and says business has more than doubled after the announcement from MNPS.
“I probably got more calls than I’ve ever received since I started this business,” said Schmitt.
Schmitt is spending most days interviewing candidates to add to a growing roster of undergrad and graduate students, as well as current and former teachers.
“These are individuals who know education is their world. So logging into Zoom classes and managing Google classrooms was their every day. Redirecting behavior is just second nature to them,” said Schmitt.
MNPS says every school will have the same curriculum across each grade, with the hope of providing consistency. This works well for tutors who aren’t required to come up with their own coursework and Schmitt says their prices will be adjusted to reflect the fewer responsibilities.
“We’re managing what’s already happening, as opposed to preparing lessons and creating a series of lessons to get a child from point A to point B,” said Schmitt.
There’s been a lot of adjusting in the past several months alone, but that’s part of life in a pandemic.
With most of these tutors, they began the year doing in-home tutoring after school. When COVID-19 closed schools, they adjusted to more virtual work for the sake of social distancing.
Now these same tutors are returning to in-home tutoring, while we’re still no closer to containing the virus that kept us all apart to begin with.
Schmitt says her team is taking precautions and instructing tutors to work outside as often as possible.
“I remember in the very beginning, sending my team an email about hand-washing and social distancing,” said Schmitt.
Like Schmitt, Goodpasture is also working to protect herself and her client by following CDC guidelines. That means wearing a mask as often as possible and keeping her distance when she can.
“I’ll take the normal precautions. I’m worried just like everyone else about this deadly virus, but life goes on. I have to go on and make a living,” said Goodpasture.
Goodpasture says with all the risks involved, this is one thing parents can not afford to take lightly. She urges all parents to play an active role in monitoring for themselves if their student is being safe on their devices. If students are expected to spend any amount of time online, Goodpasture says it’s important to warn students about the threat of predators and sites they shouldn’t be visiting.
“The parents really need to get on board with this. Monitor their studies. Ask them what they’re doing. If they’ve done the work. If possible, check the computer to make sure they’re going to the right sites,” said Goodpasture.
Goodpasture offers her services through Blair Tutorial Agency: (615) 647-7007
Katy Schmitt can be reached at Thrive Tutoring: (615) 398-1171
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