News & Insights 21 April 2023

Overcoming my initial anxiety as an online tutor

Teaching for the first time can be challenging. It is not as easy to adapt to and meet the needs of different pupils, who depend on you to instruct them.

When I first entered the education sector, I started out as a Teaching Assistant (TA) and for the most part, I didn’t have to actually lead lessons. I enjoyed supporting and working with pupils on a one-to-one basis, analysing where they needed help and targeting those gaps.

So when the option to volunteer with Action Tutoring as an English tutor as part of my university degree programme sprang up, I jumped at the opportunity. Tutoring children was something I had never actually done before, but I had experience working in close-knit groups as a TA. I wasn’t nervous in the slightest.

Conquering the doubts

The option for face-to-face tutoring in a community school was unavailable in my location and the only option was to tutor online. Apprehensive at first, I cautiously took on the volunteer role as an online tutor. 

A number of questions were spinning in my head: how do I get familiar with virtual learning software? How do I control pupil behaviour if it’s online? 

It was only after my first tutor induction session that I began to feel more at ease, as I was able to ask all of these questions and get answers. Action Tutoring provided me with further help with using the online software I’d come to fear – Vedamo.

Sense of relief

Never having used any online classroom software, or anything close to it before, the basic training on Looop really helped. It was simple and straightforward – the instructional videos were segmented into small 2-5 minute clips and it wasn’t overwhelming for a first-time tutor like myself.

After the training, I was given my login credentials for Vedamo and informed I could log in and practise any time I wanted. This was a relief, and I felt my anxiety slip away. Having access to Vedamo at any time allowed me to practise, and become comfortable and familiar with the different features of the learning platform. 

After speaking to my assigned programme coordinator, I was sent an Action Tutoring workbook via post a few weeks before my tutoring sessions began. The workbook covered all the lessons and included answers to all the learning activities that I would be doing with my pupils. 

Even more helpful, Action Tutoring also provided me with the online lesson templates, specifically made for Vedamo. All I had to do was simply upload the template on Vedamo and the lesson was live for pupils and myself to work with.

Volunteer tutor, Penelope Rudock

First online session

My first tutoring session was smooth. I uploaded the lesson template on Vedamo immediately and the physical workbook helped me with tips and tricks throughout the lesson.

Meeting pupils online was a new experience but felt exactly like I was in an actual classroom. The connection between myself and the pupils was not lost over online delivery and I could focus all my attention directly on interacting with my pupils on the screen.

Overseeing delivery

Another great relief for me was the fact that Action Tutoring has a programme coordinator in the classroom with the pupils during the session. This meant that if I had any concerns about pupil behaviour or technical issues at all, they could be resolved quickly. 

Everything I had originally worried about with regard to tutoring online has just withered away in this first lesson. The sessions after that only seemed to get better. 

After approval from my programme coordinator, I had total freedom to adjust the tutoring approach slightly to tailor the gaps of the pupils, which gave me some independence over the lesson delivery.

Consider volunteer tutoring

If you are feeling nervous or apprehensive about tutoring online, then I totally understand you. But, if you are anything like me, then Action Tutoring is the education charity to work with. They will understand and hear your concerns and approach your problems with care, consideration and training. 

The anxiety over online tutoring shouldn’t be a reason preventing you from trying it. Action Tutoring will help assuage all your fears and doubts. 

Remember, one of the most important things about online tutoring: no commute! Give it a try and see how it goes.

Author: Penelope Rudock