Tutor: Be Stubborn About Your Goals
Welcome to the new-look Tutor: The Newsletter–or should I say Tutor: The Substack? And thanks for following me to the new platform. You’re definitely one of a very special exclusive group, which is to say that maybe 10% of readers who opened the last newsletter subscribed to this one.
On the surface, watching most of a mailing list evaporate sounds like a less than desirable outcome. Nonetheless, I expected as much.
Why mess with a good thing?
Let me suggest that you should always consider messing with a good thing as far as your business is concerned. History proves again and again that running the same playbook over and over will eventually lead to stagnation and perhaps financial disaster. Anyone living in Rochester, NY can’t help but hear stories about the glory days, before Kodak stubbornly chose to cling to an expiring business model rather than embrace the digital future that all too quickly passed classic film by.
None of us are likely in position to run a billion-dollar company into the ground, but we all have practices, careers, or side-gigs under pressure from a perfect storm of technological, economic, and cultural changes beyond our control:
Growing acceptance of remote instruction
Waxing and waning skepticism about standardized testing
Expansion of digital testing
Politicization of state educational standards (think math in CA or history in FL)
Intensification of reading wars
Potential for AI tutors and automated instruction
More and better administrative, marketing, and client management tools
Each of these forces (and far too many more to mention) individually has the potential to alter educational businesses; in concert, they contribute to an unpredictable environment that may reward very different teaching methods and operating practices than you’re accustomed to.
Dynamic ecosystems continuously redefine the concept of fit. Sears, Roebuck and Co. skillfully navigated the seas of change from a thriving mail-order business at the end of the 19th century to one of the dominant retail giants of the entire 20th century. At a certain point, however, they steered into one storm and hazard after another into losses, liquidations, and bankruptcy.
Don’t hold on to outdated practices too long. Be willing to destroy your business plan before someone or something else does. Just make sure you focus on how rather than what or why.
After all, don’t we require our students to do exactly this, to destroy their old ways of reading, writing, solving math problems, or taking tests in order to adopt new and better methods? Don’t we fracture their maladaptive time management and study skills strategies to reknit stronger habits? If more students embraced this productive destruction proactively, many of us would be out of work!
The work, after all, is really the thing. As educators, we are in the business of helping students learn more, learn faster, and learn better. We track our successes in improved grades and test scores as dearly as increases in our top and bottom lines.
Be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods. You can change mode of instruction or CRM platforms, modify intake methods, or innovate new group instruction concepts. You can even scrap one newsletter system for another. Consider every new tool and resource that comes along in comparison to your current SOP. Do not hold your methods dear. Your goals–better, more successful students and happier, more satisfied clients–are what matter and what should never change.
Tips, Tools, And Thoughts
Blow Up Your Business Model
Consider some practical steps to transforming your practice
High-Impact Tutoring: State of the Research and Priorities for Future Learning
The average effects of tutoring interventions are considered large and translate to 3-15 additional months of learning for students
Refusing to teach kids math will not improve equity
Part 2 of the response to California’s new “math” policy
Do you routinely violate Parkinson's law of triviality?
Gates Of Heaven
Only click if you like math puzzles.
…And what amazing product sponsored this week's newsletter?
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