Time Management Tips for Tutors

How do you manage your time as a teacher? Is your schedule constantly changing or do you have steady working hours? Do you adapt to your students’ needs or do you have a fixed schedule? What happens when you’re on holiday or have an appointment?

Table of Contents

Your schedule

On your calendar, you have the possibility to set a standard weekly schedule. This repeats every week, so you have to do it just once. However, some of your students may schedule classes weeks or even months in advance, so make sure to delete a time range when you’re on a holiday or not available for any other reasons. Another option is to set available times in the calendar, allowing students to book only 4 – 6 weeks in advance. It involves a little more work but that way you hardly ever have to decline a session request or reschedule sessions. Reliability is something many students find important.

Extra lessons

So you’ve set your schedule, are happy with your working hours and then a prospective student comes along but wants lessons on Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. If you have few students and need the money, you will probably agree and that’s fine.

However, it’s not a good long-term strategy. I sometimes agree to open extra slots but try to attach them to my current schedule. Let’s say, I work from 10 am – 1 pm on Fridays. In that case, I would add an extra slot at 9 am or at 1 pm but not at 8 pm.

At first sight, it sounds okay to do another hour of teaching in the evening but it means that your working day doesn’t finish at 1 pm. Although you have a long break, the day is still not completely yours and in the long run, this may not feel good for you.

Offering more hours than you want to teach

I’ve seen teachers who are available 24 hours a day on 7 days a week. At least that’s what their calendar says. In reality, it means that you cannot just book a session with them but need to be prepared that they will decline or ask to re-schedule. That’s annoying when students have little time and it already took them a while to find a teacher with a schedule which matches their needs.

Offering many hours doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get more students. In many cases, it’s even the contrary. Quite a few teachers who allow students to book between 8:00 am and 10 pm have a lot of empty slots while teachers who are only available at certain times are often fully booked – especially when they already have some experience and good reviews.

Don’t forget about cancellations. For example, you offer about 30 – 35 hours a week, with a maximum of 6 – 8 hours a day. When students don’t show up or reschedule at short notice your average teaching time will be 20 – 30 hours a week.

Preparing your lessons

How long do you need to prepare your lessons? Are you one of those teachers who offer tailor-made material for each student? In that case, you won’t be able to teach 30 hours a week because it would mean 60 – 90 hours of work.

Working with books is the easiest way. Once you know the book well, you just have to correct homework and make a note where you stopped working with a particular student. Don’t be afraid to work with books, especially not when you’re teaching a language like English, German, Spanish or French where many good books are available. Be specific and write down in your course description which books you’re working with. Choose just one book for each level. In this case, your preparation time will be not more than 5 – 10 minutes for each student.

Developing your own material takes time. But when you work with your own material and it’s quality material (not just sending the student a link to a text or video or copying some pictures into a Google Doc), you can easily justify increasing your rates.

Correcting homework

That’s also part of your preparation time if you do it outside class. Make sure that you don’t assign too much homework when you’re the one who has to correct it. Here, textbooks come in handy again.

Also you can give your students access to all solutions and transcripts, so they can check their homework themselves. If you need to correct written assignments you can ask students that the text has to be ready one day before the next session starts, otherwise, you will correct it during the class. And when working with high-intermediate or advanced students you can sometimes just highlight the mistakes and ask them to have another look themselves.

How do you manage your time as a teacher? Are you well-organised or do you suffer from a work overload?