Your Tutor, Your Coach

What do Michael Phelps, Andy Murray and Tiger Woods all have in common? Apart from being world leaders in their sports? They all have coaches.

Can you imagine any top sportsman without their coach? These unsung heroes behind stage are often pivotal to their clients’ success. That’s why a failing football team or tennis player will often hire a new coach in the hope that it will reverse their fortune. Who can deny the impact of Sir Alex Ferguson on Manchester United’s success? Usain Bolt admits that Glen Mills, his coach from Jamaica, would help remove his self-doubt.

It’s not just in sports. We have health coaches, business coaches, productivity coaches and life coaches to name a few. In religion, disciples who went onto become outstanding scholars first underwent a period of intense training under a great spiritual teacher.

Even in education, before the advent of mass-schooling, the elite would have governesses or private tutors teach them a whole range of subjects. To this day, it is still extremely common for royalty and the wealthy to invest in private tutors (in the Gulf they will fly British tutors in to live in their mansions as they tutor!). Thankfully, tutoring is no longer the privilege of the elite: at least one in four pupils receive private tutoring in the UK.

Tutors are like coaches in many ways. Both must have expert knowledge of the subject they are instructing so they can give technical feedback to their students. Both are able to motivate, inspire, empathise and empower their clients. This second aspect is often overlooked and is the reason why you don’t need to be a qualified teacher to be a great tutor.

Classroom teachers can be great group coaches, but may not actually have much experience guiding a student one-to-one. A skilled tutor, on the other hand, can make that connection with their student. I’ve seen so many examples of a tutor, who may not be as academically qualified as others, but who enjoys greater success due to her ability to connect and motivate her students.

At HIT, when interviewing potential tutors, we especially look out for these two factors: 1. Is the tutor academically gifted and qualified in the subject? 2. Can this tutor connect with teenagers and children?

It’s working. We’ve fielded young, talented tutors whose ability to connect with their students has lead to extremely happy parents. Shy pupils who are disillusioned or falling behind in school are soon raising their hands in class and getting ahead in exam scores.

Coaching works. And in the field of education it doesn’t have to cost the earth. For the weekly cost of a family takeout, you can hire an expert tutor to guide your child step-by-step towards confident competence in a given subject.