Clearly, 2020 has been a year of adjustments for students and teachers alike, but thankfully, technology and a little bit of creativity have gone a long way towards making it possible to tutor your children efficiently and effectively without losing that personal connection that one on one tutoring provides.
When it was clear that the pandemic was going to keep me out of the office, I called my son who is a high school English teacher in Virginia and an admitted tech geek; his web site is appropriately titled teachernerd.com.
I could see him smiling as he calmly walked me through my options. They ranged from simple and inexpensive to ridiculously complex and expensive. I chose an option that would make the most of what hardware I already had and only required a $100 purchase.
I have Zoom loaded on my MacBook Pro. I recently upgraded my internet speed, so there have been no connectivity issues on my end. Zoom has a number of great features including the ability to share my screen. That’s where the fun begins. Next to my MacBook is my iPad–yes, I know this blog post is beginning to look like an Apple advertisement! My son found me GoodNotes which is a powerful little app that allows you to annotate just about anything
Documents can be opened up via GoodNotes directly from the Internet or via email from my Documents Folder. Using GoodNotes, I have loaded all of Chariot Learning’s instructional materials onto my iPad as well as just about any SAT and ACT that is publicly available.
My students can tell you that penmanship was never one of my strong qualities, so I was nervous about using a stylus. I tried numerous products and was not happy with any of them. They didn’t feel like writing instruments and they were useless when it came to the kind of fine detail required for certain math problems. I finally splurged and purchased an Apple Pencil (full disclosure – I really do not own any Apple stock) as well as a rubber grip holder. I am extremely happy with the result. I can annotate any of these documents, draw pictures, write explanations, highlight key text in multiple colors, styles, etc. Furthermore, I can save my annotations.
There are also some very practical advantages to my Zoom set-up. Let’s not forget that the world is not designed for left handed tutors like me. It is no coincidence that when a student walks into my classroom, my coat and books are on the chair to my right . Of course, I want my student to sit on the chair to my left so I can have a better angle to mark up their materials. That’s not always possible. There will also be times that they must sit across from me or to my right. While my students have always admired my ability to write math problems upside down, the results are not always pretty. And, let’s not forget the need for social distancing!
With the right technique, philosophy, and gear, remote tutoring can be at least as effective as in-person instruction. Even better, these new options solve a parent’s eternal struggle: who is going to drive your teen to the tutoring session?!
A graduate of Columbia University, Jim Reinish has spent decades helping students unlock their potential and enthusiastically showing them that studying for the Big Test doesn’t have to be a chore. After 20 years as one of New Jersey’s most successful and popular tutors and a 33-year career as an executive with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Jim relocated to Rochester. Now, Chariot Learning students benefit from the experience he has gained from preparing thousands of students for the SAT, ACT, GRE and GMAT.