November 29, 2013

Kaplan tutor union battle heats up

Originally published on October 17, 2013 in the Hartford Business Journal

The 90 Kaplan English language instructors who voted to unionize last year thought it would lead to higher pay and benefits. But 17 months later, the union and Kaplan have yet to agree on a contract, and nothing for them has changed. All their hopes are pinned on their next negotiations on Oct. 25.

Emily Lessem, 29, who has taught English to foreign students for nearly two years, was one of the instructors who joined the union in June 2012. Like the other instructors, she only works 30 hours a week and is considered part time. This means she doesn’t get benefits, a strategy that the union said Kaplan employs on purpose.

But Lessem still gets paid $17 an hour for her in-class teaching time. For the rest of the job, which involves grading and lesson planning, she is paid New York’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. She doesn’t get paid for sick days, vacation days or holidays. And there’s no healthcare insurance.

Her take-home pay for the year is about $23,000, not enough to pay the bills, she says. “I really enjoy teaching ESL but I’ve been very frustrated with the working conditions,” she said. “I’ve been really cheated out of a lot of money and benefits.”

To read more click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Business Practices,Commercial

November 20, 2013

Meet the ‘tutor kings and queens’

By Yojana Sharma, BBC, originally published 11/27/12

Forget the elbow patches, tutor Kelly Mok teaches English with style

They strike glamorous poses in posters in shopping malls and on the sides of buses. But they are not movie stars or supermodels: they are Hong Kong’s A-list “tutor kings” and “tutor queens”, offering pupils a chance to improve mediocre grades. In Hong Kong’s consumer culture, looks sell. Celebrity tutors in their sophisticated hair-dos and designer trappings are treated like idols by their young fans who flock to their classes. And they have earnings to match – some have become millionaires and appear regularly on television shows.

“If you want to be a top tutor, it definitely helps if you are young and attractive. Students look at your appearance,” said Kelly Mok, 26, a “tutor queen” at King’s Glory, one of Hong Kong’s largest tutorial establishments. Her designer clothes and accessories are not just for the billboards; it’s how she likes to dress outside classes. But she is also careful to add that she wouldn’t be in such high demand if she could not deliver top grades in her subject, English.

Richard Eng from Beacon College is often credited with being the first of Hong Kong’s “star tutors”. A former secondary school teacher, he says he got the idea after he featured in photographs advertising his sister, a performance artist. “In school all the teachers look the same, there’s no excitement,” he said. Richard Eng Richard Eng has brought a show business approach to the world of improving exam grades. His own image appears on special ring-binders and folders containing study tips, or pens which harbour a pull-out scroll with his picture and other gifts. Such items became so sought after that they propelled him to near-rock star status among young people.

The celebrity tutor phenomenon is a result of the huge growth in out-of-school tutoring in Asia.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Business Practices

February 10, 2013

Proposed uniforms for tutors spark debate

By Daneille Gamble, News Editor, The Independent Collegian

A hotly debated Student Government resolution was narrowly passed Tuesday night asking the administration to rethink a new dress code policy for student tutors and residence advisers. Under the policy, most student staffers in the Division of Student Affairs would be required to wear khakis or dress pants with a university-provided polo starting at the beginning of next semester.

Joe Ozbolt, senior double majoring in math and physics, brought concerns about the changes to SG Vice President Chris Dykyj on Monday.  Ozbolt, who has been a tutor in the Learning Enhancement Center for about a year, said all of the tutors and RAs he has spoken with are against the dress code.  “One of the good things about working at this job is knowing that you don’t have to wear a uniform,” he said. “It lets students feel like they’re coming to someone for help who’s a friend, not just some guy who works for some company.”

The senate passed the resolution 16 to 10 after a 20-minute debate. Dean of Students Michele Martinez said senior staff started discussing the idea over the summer. She said the student advisory board, a group within Division of Student Affairs that meets with senior staff to discuss ideas and concerns, supported the idea.

Martinez said students mentioned that sometimes when they try to get help in certain offices, it is unclear who workers are because they do not have clear identification. Ozbolt said he has never heard of problems relating to what tutors wear. He said students he asked who use the tutoring center said the measure was unnecessary.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Business Practices,College

February 24, 2012

The $1,000-an-hour Super Tutor

by Will Orr-Ewing, London Evening Standard, originally published 1/5/12

London tutor Will Orr-Ewing meets his American counterparts who charge as much as lawyers and finds out how they are revolutionising the profession…

In recent years, London’s private tutors have been enjoying a turn in the spotlight. Articles describing tutoring’s more glamorous features – from Gwyneth Paltrow’s search for a “multilingual all-round genius” to Tatler magazine’s showcasing of London’s top “supertutors” – convey the impression of an exalted profession with high standards and rigorous codes of practice. The reality is quite the opposite.

The London tutor is still characterised by his amateurism. Most tutors in London lack training, an established curriculum of methods and materials and a long-term commitment to the vocation. For many well-educated and ambitious practitioners, tutoring remains a part-time job, a stop-gap between university and more lucrative or prestigious occupations.

In New York, tutoring is conceived of differently. To become a tutor is to choose a career, and it is a career choice as revered as other esteemed and competitive fields. Having been featured in the Tatler article myself and having already made important strides towards professionalising London’s private tutoring industry, I went to New York to try to understand the key differences in our approaches.

To read more click here.

Filed under: Business Practices,Small Private Practices

March 8, 2011

Professors and tutoring services vie for students’ attention

by Krystal Nimigian, for the battalion online, originally published on 2/16/11

In one corner sit the seasoned, professionally hired instructors who are exclusive to Texas A&M University. In the opposite corner sit College Station’s well-versed tutors. The winner’s prize? The attention and time of students.

The tension between the two groups is obvious, but why does it exist?

“A lot of [the professors] are decent, nice people. But there are a few that go out of the way to make things difficult. I’ve heard stories from students of teachers who say, you go to tutoring, and I will fail you,” said John Forsyth, or “Tutor John”. Forsyth said that when he finds this to be the case, he advises his students to keep their extra help low key. “I’ve been doing this [tutoring] for 15 to 20 years. After that time period, you get a good feel for what is in the class, what the teachers are going to do, that sort of thing,” he said.  Forsyth explained that some methods students are taught in his sessions, are not to be written on the test because professors might count it wrong.

“In math, there are always multiple solutions, multiple ways to get the right answer. Some professors think, ‘It’s my way or it’s wrong.’ These are the people that let the power of teaching go to their heads. Some of the instructors don’t know the material very well,” he said. Forsyth noted that because some professors are in the dark due to unfamiliarity with the material, they deem an answer incorrect when student methods vary.

Junior biomedical sciences major Edward Vazquez said that his experiences with off-campus tutors have been enjoyable. It was very helpful, fast-paced and practically a lifesaver,” Vazquez said. Statistics professor Julie Carroll earned her bachelor’s in mathematics and master’s in industrial engineering and statistics from Texas A&M. Carroll explained that an open lab is available for the statistics sections. There, students can meet with graduate students to ask questions. With the number of accessible graduate students and times, more than 60 hours of assistance are available per week.

“Some people don’t like it,” Carroll said about the tutor-professor relationship. “I’m sure Tutor John has made lots of money off of me, but I can’t stop it. This is the second half of my 19th year teaching at A&M, so I have been at this awhile. Longer than Tutor John.”

With so much free professorial assistance so readily accessible, some professors display a level of frustration as students go to tutors for help.

To read the full story, click here.

Filed under: Academic Learning Centers,Business Practices,College,Commercial Providers,Tutoring Practices

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