Get the Word Out: How to Market Your Courses Offline

VivianaThe biggest challenge of any new business is to get a continuous flow of clients. And new tutors or teachers are no exception to the rule. Let’s have a look at how you can spread the word about your teaching business with a limited budget. It is the combination of your marketing activities and your reputation that will help you attract new students and grow your business.

Low Cost Methods for Offline Marketing

Notice Board Advertising

Bulletin boards are great places for advertising your teaching business; new or old. They usually get a lot of traffic from your target audience – students and/or their parents. What are the best locations for placing your advertisements? Schools, community centers, public libraries or cafes are one of the best places to promote your services. Try to maximize your reach by advertising in as many of these locations in your area.

Notice Board

Image by by Stew Dean via Flickr

Read more: How to Advertise Offline

Leafleting and Flyers

Another easy and affordable way to spread the word about your teaching services is to distribute leaflets and flyers. It is a popular marketing method for small businesses. Unaddressed mailbox distribution involves delivering flyers to homes or offices in your area. It is a mass marketing method on a local scale with a great possibility to reach your target audience. Door-drop marketing is an affordable option that can bring you in new students. You just need to be careful not to breach any regulations that apply to this method; e.g. “No Junkmail” system in Australia.

Read more: Leafleting in your area

Local Print

Local Print

Image by ilamont.com via Flickr

Advertising in your local newspaper is definitely a great way to let your potential customers know about your business. You will be guaranteed a certain amount of eyeballs and can target your audience by choosing the right publisher. On the other hand, this is probably the most expensive option you have. You might want to use this type of advertising for special promotions and deals to increase the impact of your advertising dollars.

Read more: Print is Dead? Not so Fast.

Merchandise

Branded merchandise can mean pretty much anything with your brand/name/logo on it. A cup, pen or a calendar – anything. Since you are only a starting brand and people have no incentive to show your brand, you want to provide them with something useful. Think about what products can be a good fit for your students.

Read more: How to Make Great Brand Merchandise

Referrals

Word of Mouth

Image by dobrych via Flickr

Word of mouth is a truly powerful marketing method, namely for small business. However, it takes a long time. How can you help the process of spreading the word? Incentivize your current students. Offer them discounts for inviting their friends to join. Leverage your relationships with advocates and influencers to help share your message. Offer them something of value when they work with your brand.

Read More: 4 Steps to Executing a Successful Influencer-Driven, Word-Of-Mouth Campaign

Do you use some interesting offline methods that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Next week, we will explain some effective online marketing tactics for your teaching business.

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How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business: Part 1. Get the Right Skills

VivianaBecoming a tutor, private teacher or a personal trainer can bring you a lot of joy. Making a difference by helping somebody grow and learn is one of the greatest rewards. In our series “How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business”, we will show you how to take your passion for sharing your knowledge and experience to the next level and establish a successful and rewarding business you’ll be proud of.

Aristotle Quote

Naturally, the first step towards becoming a tutor or a private teacher is to identify your expertise. You probably already know what it is that you would like to teach, but it is always a good idea to do a bit of research and find your niche within or around your favorite discipline. Maybe you find out there is a high demand for your subject in a certain age group or that people are interested in a specific area that is not easily available in your town. Try and narrow your expertise down to something more specific and start growing your student base incrementally.

Now that you know what exactly it is you want to teach, you should start thinking about the skills you need to do the job well. There are two different set of skills needed for any career; technical and soft skills.

Technical skills you will need

Although there are generally no formal requirements to become a tutor or a private teacher, it is a good idea to acquire some sort of professional qualification in the subject or discipline you want to teach. This will depend on who your prospect students are and what their level of knowledge is. For example, if you are considering being an online tutor, you may want to consider an instructional technology degree in order to provide the best possible online classroom environment for your students.

Spanish Tutoring

Photo by Tulane Public Relations via Flickr

It is probably fine to have just HSC in mathematics if you are a university student who is planning to offer primary school maths tuition. On the contrary, to become a personal trainer you will be required to have a certificate in fitness and a first aid certificate.

You can find more information about the qualifications required and trainings available by visiting a website of a particular association, depending on your field of expertise:

If you are planning to work with children, you will need to obtain the Working with Children Check. “Pre-employment screening of adults and Volunteers who come in contact with children is mandatory and legislated for across most states and territories in Australia. However there is no national framework setting out the requirements for obtaining a Working With Children Check (or Police Checks) – and each state and territory has their own procedures and requirements.

Soft skills that make a good teacher or tutor

Apart from getting the necessary credentials, you need to think about the soft skills and qualities you should posses to become a good teacher. It requires a great amount of hard work to create a challenging and nurturing environment for your students. To some extent, your attitude towards your students and the subject can be more important than the skills and knowledge you have.

1. Enthusiasm and Positive Attitude

As already mentioned, your attitude is everything. You should be approachable to your students as well as your potential colleagues. A great teacher has an engaging personality and manages to hold attention of their students.

Teacher talking to students

Image by woodleywonderworks via Flickr

Smile! It is an important means for building and establishing rapport. Smile is the easiest thing you can do to put your students into ease.

Learn more about how you can motivate your students.

2. Communication Skills

It goes without saying that a good teacher needs to be a good communicator. Sometimes, you will have to present complex topics in a way that is easy to understand. Other times, you will have to use metaphors and come up with examples to explain an issue that is foreign to your students.

You should also be, in some cases, prepared to maintain open communication with parents and make yourself available to them.

3. Listening Skills

Although it may seem that teachers spend most of their time in class talking, they actually have to be good listeners too.

“Good listening skills are needed to develop empathy and understanding with the students and to assess whether they understand what they are being taught. Listening skills also help in negotiating with students and defusing any potential classroom conflicts.”
(Source: ACS Distance Education)

Listen

Image by ky_olsen via Flickr

Active listening skills are also important when it comes to better understanding your students’ needs and discovering what their strengths and weaknesses are. Simply, mastering your listening skills will help you become a better leader and educator!

4. Being Passionate about the Subject

It may seem obvious but is needed to mention that a great teacher has a deep knowledge and is enthusiastic about the subject they are teaching. A good instructor or tutor always stays up to date with the latest trends and developments in their field; they spend a significant amount of their time studying themselves!

Teachers must be ready to answer or research their students’ questions and act as a subject matter experts in their field. This would be hard if you don’t love what you teach, don’t you think?

5. Organisation and Time-management Skills

If you become a private instructor or teacher, you will most likely spend a lot of time planning your lessons as well as organising your schedule. It is possible you will be travelling between individual classes with a tight timeline to get from one place to another. Good planning can save you a lot of travelling time!

You need to be very organised and possess strong planning skills to make sure you are always on time, well prepared and that you always deliver high quality lessons. Your organisation and planning skills will have a significant effect on the learning experience of your students.

Time Flies

Image by Alan Cleaver via Flickr

You may be surprised how much administration work is involved in teaching in general, so be ready to spend some time behind your computer managing your small business.

6. Friendly Personality

It is important that you have a friendly personality and are able to develop a cherished bond with your students. They will be motivated and will work harder in a friendly atmosphere. Try to encourage open discussions and make your students feel at home. You should enjoy working with people or children and be excited about helping your students out.

At the same time, you still need to maintain a professional approach. You need to combine both the guidance of a teacher and the understanding of a friend.

7. Patience

Teacher in classroom

Image by black vanilla via Flickr

Patience is a virtue! This skills may easily be the most important quality of a good teacher. You will have students who need more time to understand a certain topic and sometimes you will need to repeat yourself quite a few times. Extensive knowledge of the subject you teach does not guarantee that your students will comprehend it. Your patience with them, on the other hand, will certainly help them in the learning process and may stimulate their interest in the subject. It is your job to appreciate their individual personality and their unique strengths and weaknesses.

I am convinced it is the combination of both technical and soft skills that makes a great teacher. I’ d love to hear your thoughts on what skills and qualities are essential for a good teacher to have! 

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We will continue in our series “How to Kick-Start Your Teaching Business” next week with tips on how to gain recognition and build your brand.

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10 Unconventional Ways to Improve Your Memory

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Memories

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Do you ever find yourself staring blankly at ATM screen not remembering what your PIN code is? Did you ever forget your girlfriend’s birthday and got into serious trouble? These are some of the signs that your memory might need some exercise to get into a better shape. You might find the following tips how to improve your memory useful.

You should notice an improvement in you short and long term memory after practicing these exercises for some period of time. They are truly simple tricks you can start doing today! Choose the ones that best suit your needs and personality, you don’t have to apply them all at once.

1. Visualize information

Try to convert boring information into a picture. Most information we consume every day is abstract and that is why it is difficult for our brain to latch onto it. For example you have an appointment with your tax man today at 3 Bridge Street. Try and convert the abstract information into a familiar image. You might want to imagine three bridges or a three-column bridge to remember the address. Later in the day when it comes to going to the location, your mind will recall the information faster and you won’t even have to take out your phone and look it up again.

Prague bridges

Image by Martin__V via Flickr

Images work like mental hooks that will help you retrieve the information form your memory. They work well for both short and long term memory. You can use this technique to remember something as banal as where you parked your car or something more complicated as the capital cities of European countires.

2. Chunk it

Affinity of information

Image by Yale Law Library via Flickr

Chucking information increases the number of arbitrary items our memory can process. You can remember “chunked” information easier by remembering the group as opposed to every individual item separately. It has been scientifically proven to be a faster way of remembering things. Break up big pieces of information into small logical chunks and try to remember those. Organize the information based on its meaning.

Don’t make your brain lazy by writing a grocery list. Instead, put each item you need to buy in a mental product sercion (dairy, bakery, deli, etc.). When you physically get to the particular area of the store, you will be more likely to remember all the items you needed in there.

Another good example is a phone number. We tend to remember a phone number better in three chunks: 0423 859 569 than in one piece like this 04023859569. It is much easier to remember groups of numbers than each of them individually.

3. Make associations

Relating new information to something you already know is a great way of remembering it. Try to look for connections between different facts and pieces of information. Find a link between what you try to memorize and what you are familiar with.

Great way of making an association is to connect information in a story. We tend to remember stories better than individual fragments of information. You might be trying to memorize some historical information for a test. Make up a story that connects the dates and people to help you remember the facts.

Imagination of a little boy

Image by Juliana Coutinho via Flickr

4. Do something strange

This is probably my favorite trick so far. Do you also run around the house looking for your keys every other morning? Try and do something wacky when you are placing them somewhere the night before. This will activate your memory by breaking an everyday routine.You can stomp, whistle or cry out, whatever occurs to you 🙂 The point is you will remember doing this the next morning and you will recall where you did it. As simple as that.

5. Pay attention to detail

Exercise your mind when you can. Try to remember details of places and situations that are important in your life. The more details you remember the more likely you are to recollect the moment later. Make an effort to register as much information as you can. Pay attention to what people say and how they say it. Stay at present and pay attention to the task ahead. Your mental presence is important when seeking to improve your memory.

I found a fantastic practical tip related to this point:

When you are ready to go to sleep, go over what you did that day from the time you got up until you get into bed. Start with the time you awoke, got out of bed, follow your entire day step by step until the time you went back to bed. Try to recall as much detail as possible, visualizing in your mind each and every step from beginning to end. In the beginning, you probably wont remember much detail, and you’ll probably move rapidly from task to task or think of the day in large periods of time.  However, try to slow down and remember as much as you can to take in as much detail as you can. ~ Source: Forbes

6. Be active

Your body and mind are interconnected. Your brain works better when your body is active. When you start exercising, you brain recognizes it as a stress moment as if you were in danger. You body starts releasing a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor)  which not only protects your brain and body form the stress, but  also repairs your memory neurons. Exercise also triggers endorphins, which help prioritizing functions of your brain. That is why your ability to remember things and sort out your priorities improves after exercise.

Memory execrise

By Illustration: Sapna Khandwala, Public Library of Science [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t forget to exercise your brain too. Any intellectual activity is good for you. Find things you like and try to do them at least once a day: read, play sudoku, meditate, write a poem… You can also start a brain fitness program consisting of different memory games and exercises.

Active lifestyle will not only improve your memory but also help increase your productivity!

7. Live a healthy life

Exercising often is only one part of living a healthy lifestyle. Another important factors that affect your memory are what you eat, and drink and how much you sleep.

Eating IconThe food we eat has an enormous effect on our brain activity. Recent studies have shown that eating antioxidants is beneficial for our memory function. Two great foods for improving memory are apples and blueberries, so make sure you have enough of them in your diet.

 

Drink IconYou might think alcohol has negative impact on memory. Well, not quite. Research actually demonstrates that drinking in moderation helps improve brain function as well as short-term memory. There are other studies suggesting that people who drink in moderation are less likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Sleep IconA good night’s sleep may improve your memory and help consolidate recently encoded information in your brain. It also plays an essential role in learning new information. Your memory simply needs to be well rested to operate optimally.

8. Use your environment

This technique is also call the method of loci or a memory palace and has been a popular mnemonic device since the Ancient Greece. You use an environment you are familiar with, a location you spent a lot of time in and know well. It can be your house or your daily drive to work. You then imagine walking through that location or journey and selecting places, objects and landmarks. You put the objects you need to remember into these places walking through the location in a set path. You can combine this method with the visualization method mentioned earlier and visualize a connection with an item you need to remember and the familiar place.

Memory Palace

Image by kham via Flickr

This method requires some practice but once deep-routed, it can serve as a powerful tool for your memory and help you remember information you would normally forget.

9. Involve multiple senses

One of the most common problems people have is to remember names. They have an abstract meaning as we cannot associate them with anything familiar, if we don’t know the person yet. Try to use your senses when you are introduce to someone new. You can focus on their voice or the taste of the drink you have when you meet them. Again, you can use visualization method to make an association with their name. We all have different preferences when in comes to how we learn and process information. Use the sense that best suits your learning style to remember new names, numbers or addresses.

10. Don’t rush yourself

Repetition is the mother of all learning.  If you study for an exam, you will most likely need to go over the information a few times before you can safely say you remember it. Work slowly towards your goal and review the material progressively. It will be stored in the long-term part as the brain. Take your time and practice your memory. Don’t forget to relax your brain in the meanwhile and take a break from study to revitalize your memory function.

“Memory has its own special kind. It selects, eliminates, alters, exaggerates, minimizes, glorifies, and vilifies also; but in the end it creates its own reality, its heterogeneous but usually coherent version of events; and no sane human being ever trusts someone else’s version more than his own.” ~ Salman Rushdie

There are probably other great ways to improve your memory. What are your favorite tips? I’d love your insights on this.

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7 Simple Tips to Get the Best Out of Your Students

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The quality of teaching has an enormous influence on students. It affects their achievements as well as their engagement in the learning process. But more importantly, it influences how they perceive themselves as learners.

Educational Quote

There are many different methods and teaching strategies designed to motivate your class for better results. While guidelines and methodology definitely help, it is you, the teacher, who faces the ultimate challenge of making sure every one of your students learn as much as they possibly can.

Below is a list of 7 simple things every teacher or tutor, whether teaching group courses or individual lessons, can start doing today to get more out of their students:

1. Get to know your student(s)

Understand how your students learn and try to accommodate your teaching method to their learning style. There are three basic learning styles based on how people learn and process information. There is no right or wrong way to learn and these styles have nothing to do with intelligence, they just show different ways we prefer to receive new information.

3 Basic Learning Styles

It is important to understand the difference between the different styles so you can help your students learn in the ways most conducive to them. You can always ask them to take a quick quiz to find out what their learning style is so you don’t have to guess.

Now that you know the best way to present them information, you should spend some time and effort to get to know them personally and build connections with your students.

Be personal! This is certainly easier if you teach an individual course. But even if you have a big class, there are fun and engaging ways how to get to know each other better.

2. Set high expectations

You should hold all your students to high expectations and expect them to reach those high standards.

“If teachers demand high expectations from their students and engage them in tasks that interest and involve them, they will promote self-esteem and build students’ confidence and academic performance.” (Brophy, 2008, 2010)

It is also worth mentioning how important it is to articulate clear goals. Students should be absolutely clear on what they will learn in your class and what they will be expected to do with the acquired skills or knowledge.

Don’t forget to set the same high standards for yourself! You cannot expect them to deliver the best results unless you strive to do the same. In another words, you have to be motivated to keep them motivated! A great way to set high expectations for your practice is through professional learning and peer collaboration.

3. Be flexible

Everyone is unique. Some learners need more attention than others, some methods might not work in a particular environment. Go with the flow and be ready for change. This is not to say you should freestyle your teaching. You should always have a clear plan on what you want to cover in your class, but you might have different options how to get there. This is especially important if you’re using technology in your class. We’ve all been to lessons where the instructor spent half of the time fiddling with remote controls trying to make their presentation work. It is extremely frustrating for both sides and defies the purpose of technology in education. You should always have a plan B for these situations, even if you test everything before the actual class.

Don’t just try and stick to your plan if you can’t see the expected results. Combine different methods and strategies and keep testing them. Observe closely how your students respond and define the best approaches for each individual or a particular class.

Avoid the temptation of mass production! There is no “one size fits all” in education.

One size does not fit all

Image by Micky.! via Flickr

Recognize uniqueness of individual learners and create tasks appropriate to their level and style of learning as well as their personal interests.

4. Believe in them

Look beyond your students’ imperfections and problems and try to see their potential.

If you’re always reminded of what you cannot do or what you can’t accomplish, you will never start to believe in yourself. You need other people’s support to gain confidence. And you need confidence and motivation to tackle on challenging learning tasks.

See your students' potential

Image by Martika G via Flickr

You have to make them believe they can succeed or they will never do. Challenge them. Encourage them. You must help them to focus on their strengths until they start believe in them for themselves. Help them focus on the possibilities and coach them through the potholes along the path. You will be surprised how important it can be for some of you students to know you believe in them

5. Reward them

Most of us seek some kind of recognition for our efforts. By rewarding your students I don’t mean giving them anything in particular or granting them access to privileges that other students don’t get. That implies paying them for their efforts. They don’t need to be paid if you truly believe in them. Also, rewarding only the good students can be demoralizing for the rest of the class.

“Feedback, on the other hand, is about supporting the student in the process of moving toward the goal and closing that gap between where she is now and where she needs to be. ”
Source: http://www.teachandlearn.ca

You should start by setting clear goals for the students so they know what they are working towards. You then monitor their progress and identify the best time to give them personal feedback. You should assess their results on an individual level. Excellent students most likely do not need to be rewarded as they have enough motivation and confidence to continue working hard.

On the other hand, students who struggle with the material need your kind words more than anyone. Focus on their efforts and reward them for working hard. Encourage their hope by letting them know they can always do better. Give them another chance to demonstrate they can do it.

6. Smile

Your smile is essential in the quest to reach your students. Smile creates a positive atmosphere where people feel comfortable asking questions and expressing themselves. It is an important means for building and establishing rapport. Smile is the easiest thing you can do to put your students into ease.

Keep smiling

Image by rkramer62 via Flickr

When you smile, your mood automatically brightens up which naturally affects people around you. An intriguing UC Berkeley research, that examined smiles of students in an old yearbook, has recently shown that those with the widest smiles were generally happier in their later lives and had more fulfilling marriages. That is just another proof that smile is a powerful means of communication. It is naturally contagious. We are naturally driven to smile when we see someone else, even a stranger, smiling.

Talking about smile, humor can be a great way to engage students and activate learning. Beyond the fun factor, it brightens enthusiasm and creates more positive environment. You don’t have to try to be funny at all times, just do what’s comfortable for you. You will quickly see the ease and optimism spreading through your classroom.

7. Be a Role Model

Although it goes without saying teachers should serve as desirable models to their students, we cannot leave this one out.

A role model is a person who inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves. A role model is someone we admire and someone we aspire to be like. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and through their ability to make us realize our own personal growth. We look to them for advice and guidance.
Source: http://teach.com/teachers-as-role-models

So what are the characteristics of a teacher as a role model? They model positive choice-making by putting the best choices into action. They apologize and admit mistakes; nobody is perfect at the end of the day. As a role model, you show respect to others and follow through in the same way you want your students to follow their commitments. Great role models are well rounded individuals who are proud of who they are.

As a student, I was always working harder for the teachers who proved to be caring and nurturing as I felt my results mattered to them. I simply wanted to show them I could do it; that I deserved their support. Those are the teachers who motivated me and which I still remember. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of them.

There are probably some other ways you can motivate your students and get the best out of them. What are your favorite tips? I’d love your insights on this.

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