I Spent $7000 To Learn A Lesson So You Don’t Have To

There are many great ways to spend money online to learn something, but make sure you are spending it on the right things

Man covering his face
Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

A few weeks ago I did something I’m not proud of. In fact, when I started telling my friend about it this morning, I started to tear up.

Once upon a time I was a maths teacher, and so recently I decided to try tutoring to earn some money. Looking at the jobs advertised online, I applied to be a tutor in my area, but heard nothing back.

Then I had a call from a tutoring college that were interested in employing me. In an online interview they asked me to explain a maths concept. They liked my answer and they invited me to tutor three classes on a Saturday.

Group tutoring sits in the gap between my experience. I have taught classes of students, usually around thirty, in the school system in the UK. The expectation is that you will deliver the curriculum as best you can and that the students will work together and independently. There is very little time for the teacher to spend individually with each student.

I have also done individual tutoring. Here the student has specific difficulties or questions and you can spend the time to help them. Often it is a case of giving them confidence in their own understanding and abilities.

With these classes at the tutoring college, however, I was working with classes of between 8 and 15 students. I had an hour to go over the work from the previous week, answer questions and deliver new material. I was supposed to stretch these students, taking them beyond the expected material for their age group.

It was the third group of the day that broke me. I am not used to teaching year four, and I had to teach solving word problems to eight nine year olds. They were perfectly behaved, attentive and keen to learn.

One of the students sat right at the front on her own. She paid attention and wrote down everything I did on the board from the examples. Half way into the lesson the plan, which the college had provided, said I needed to give them a test.

They worked away at the questions. The girl at the front was particularly animated. She was writing more than anyone else.

Then we went through the answers and I went round and looked at their work. The girl at the front had scored zero. She had drawn an elaborate series of pictures on her page, and done her best to answer the question, but she was clearly not at the level needed to tackle it.

She looked at me as she gave me her total with a heartbreaking smile. The smile said she would be brave. She wouldn’t let anyone see the pain I’d caused by reinforcing the message that she couldn’t do it.

I haven’t been back to the school. That one girl reminded me why tutoring needs to be one-to-one or very small group. She didn’t need to be extended beyond the curriculum, she needed help to build her confidence with the standard maths for her peer group.

My $7000 mistake

I have read many books and taken many courses on how to write a novel. A few years ago now, when I was feeling particularly keen, I found a writing coach that I liked. He offered some low paid courses, I worked my way through them and learnt an incredible amount.

I felt that I wanted to improve my writing by having some coaching. So I took a trial individual coaching session with him. It went well, I learnt some things and at the end I signed up for a year’s worth of coaching which cost $7000.

The next session went well, and I started to work on the ideas that he proposed, but I couldn’t make progress. When it came to the following session, I put off making an appointment because I wasn’t ready.

What I hadn’t realised was that, not only wasn’t I ready for that one session, I wasn’t ready for his coaching. Like that girl in tutor class, I wasn’t ready for the ideas that he was offering. What the coaching did was highlight to me how little I knew, how far back on the journey I was.

Unlike that nine year old girl I didn’t have the courage to put on a smile and have my confidence crushed. Instead I just stopped responding to the coach. I ran away, and let the year disappear.

How To Pick Your Coaches

I’m reading Nail Your Niche by Brian Ellwood.

In the chapter on How To Pick Your Coaches, he says:

“There were some programs that I should not have joined, but that’s not because they were bad. I just wasn’t quite ready for them. I didn’t actually want to do the work to implement the systems I was being taught. Or what they were teaching wasn’t a fit for me, but I didn’t slow down enough to realise that. Instead, I got excited, whipped out my credit card, and signed up.”

In my book coaching, I want to make sure that I am offering value to my clients. I don’t want them to feel like they are wasting their money. They need to be ready for the coaching that I am offering.

That’s why I’m putting together a free two week course on Starting To Write Your Novel that will let potential clients see my approach. At the end of the course I will offer, for a low cost, feedback on their work so far, and will give them advice on whether I think I can help them.

Not everyone will be ready for my approach. Even though I am trying to break down how to write a novel into small, daily, manageable steps, the emphasis will be that you need to do the work. There is no avoiding that.

Some people won’t like my approach, that’s fine.

Some people won’t be ready to do the work, that’s fine.

I want to make sure that they are able to work that out for themselves.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *