Here I speak to the powerhouse that is Sally Weatherly. Mother of 2 young children, a former head of physics department who took the plunge two years ago to work online. She now has a very successful and profitable online course for IB physics and a platform that sells Physics materials to physics teachers all over the world.
Tell us about your background: are you a trained teacher?
I’m a physics teacher by trade. I started teaching in 2004 and taught in a Scottish independent school called Fettes, eventually becoming Head of Physics there.
How did you start to tutor online?
Like most teachers, I’m often asked to tutor students and have to turn people down because of time constraints.
I became frustrated with this because I had all this expertise in International Baccalaureate (IB) Physics; I felt like an expert, a thought leader if you like, and there was only this small group of privileged pupils benefitting from that.
I started tutoring online to reach way more students and then I set up an online course – a course which is always available to students without me teaching it- and the rest is history!
Do you consider yourself primarily a teacher or primarily an entrepreneur?
I’m both. Tutoring online I get to harness both sides. I honestly didn’t know I had an entrepreneurial side before doing this. But I really love that part of the job and whenever I see a sale in my inbox I know I’ve done the right thing.
I’ve also had all sorts of opportunities come my way that I’d never have had without the business – I’m an IB examiner, an author, a fellow of the Physics Institute, a non exec director… – it’s allowed me to build a portfolio career outside the classroom. which I really love, it’s been so great.
How tech savvy are you?
I’m a physicist and I pride myself on being a good problem- solver but I’m not a programmer or a coder or anything like that.
What I do have is a good growth mind set: I like to learn all the time.
When I started tutoring online I had no technical abilities whatsoever but now I surprise myself at times. I’m self- taught the whole way. And when you start out you have to bootstrap – do everything yourself!
Do students like working online?
Yes they do. I worked in Boarding schools a lot and pupils there watch a lot of You Tube- they like the Netflix aspect of my online course – they can binge watch it in one go or watch it video by video and of course they use it as a study aid. Learning face to face feels dated to them . Online is where they want to be.
Have you had resistance from parents working online?
Parents are slightly more resistant – you have to give them a very clear outline of how online tutoring works and explain it very clearly to them . My students are based all over the world and so I do a Facebook live every week and I encourage parents to come along initially and see what I’m up to. Once they do that, it’s all good.
What are your thoughts on pricing for your services?
If you feel you need more help with a certain academic subject, the natural next step would be to employ a tutor. Right?
Honestly, in these modern times – it just doesn’t make sense.
Let’s do the math…
Imagine you employ a tutor for one hour a week during term time only for a two year course. That’s about 67 weeks in school and a good tutor charges around £45 per hour.
This means you would be spending £3015 on a tutor.
Tutors: The Truth
(I know because I am one!)
- Most tutors have never taught the exact specification that you are studying before
- Most teachers are too busy to tutor therefore many tutors are recent graduates and have no teaching experience
- They often have no clue about the exams and internal assessment requirements
- You have to save all your queries and concerns until the next weekly session you have with them.
Why would you spend £3015 on this?
In the modern world, information is much easier to access and the methods of teaching one-to-one and in person are outdated. Most students would look to YouTube for instruction before they would look in their textbook. But can you guarantee the quality of instruction on Youtube?
Online Courses: The Truth
(I know because I own one!)
- Online courses are LESS THAN 15% of the cost of employing a tutor. Think of all the other things you can spend your money on instead.
- Online courses allow you to access the most highly regarded professionals in your particular niche – no matter where you are in the world!
- You have direct access to the course creators through instantaneous online methods (e.g. email, Facebook, Skype, etc)
- Online courses are available 24/7. Let’s say you need to study for a test the next day. You log into your online course and all the information is waiting there for you instantaneously.
- The course creators put EVERY SINGLE BIT OF SPECIALIST KNOWLEDGE into their online courses.
Yes – you have to put your faith into an online course, which is not conventional. I understand that BUT what have you got to lose?
The Modern Conclusion
What I’m trying to say is that online courses are the modern and most convenient way of receiving tuition. You get direct access to to the most highly respected professionals with 24/7 help for any part of the course.
Any tips for those thinking of taking the plunge into the world of online tutoring?
This is not a hobby. It’s an obsession with a learning curve into the world of online marketing, building relationships and entrepreneurism! But this advice is coming from somebody who has jumped in feet first and is determined to make this my career.
Are there any drawbacks that you’ve found to online tutoring?
I work alone, from home. Sometimes I can feel slightly detached from the real world. I’ve had to build my own community of people who understand what I do. (Deany is a valued member of my little community and I appreciate her so much). I listen to a lot of niche podcasts in the subject of online tutoring and have learned to find my own path without the support of colleagues.
I also find that students contact me 24/7 and I feel pressured to reply ASAP. However, I’ve simply made my working hours very clear to new clients and this pressure has lessened slightly.
How has teaching online changed your lifestyle?
I literally couldn’t be happier. I get to systole my kids to school and back every day. I’ve never missed any of their functions but I still am able to feed my insatiable growth mindset! I used to work full-time in a boarding school when they were born. I was working 7 days a week and I felt hemmed in by all the rules and bureaucracy. I now have complete control over everything I do – from when I choose to work to what I choose to work on. It’s amazing and I feel very lucky.
If you know you want to start 2019 with the pieces in place for online tutoring- click here to have a look at the step by step course to show you how.