October has got off to a flying start for the London Home Tutors team, and we were thrilled to grab some time with Rob Fletcher, one of our brilliant tutors. Scroll down to learn more about Rob, his approach, and those ‘lightbulb’ moments that make tutoring so worthwhile.
Name: Rob Fletcher
“I am a specialist English teacher, and currently lead English in a state school. However I qualified as a performing arts specialist due to my passion for music. Speaking of which, until last year I played in a band that played a few national festivals – and got onto BBC Music Introducing!”
You are one of London Home Tutor’s most experienced members of staff. How did you first become involved with tutoring?
I’m an experienced teacher, but I am relatively new to tutoring. There were other members of staff at school telling me that they tutored and how much they enjoyed it, so I thought I’d give it a go.
What’s your favourite age group to teach, and why?
I am most experienced in teaching years four, five and six. I really enjoy supporting Upper Key Stage Two children.
You’re a full-time teacher and have a degree in primary education. Tell us about your key learning experiences.
I have learnt about the value of pictures, and physical resources. Children find their imaginations can really run wild with resources they can see or touch.
Best moments as a tutor?
I have two favourite moments as a tutor; one is recurring. The first is that moment when you first see the child that week, and you catch up on everything the child has been doing and you feel that you are a safe person for that child. The second is the ‘lightbulb’ moment. I remember teaching passive and active voice and seeing everything fall into place: the child had found it hard to master in class but suddenly it all clicked.
Do you think every student has the chance to be successful, given the right support? Are there any skills that can’t be taught?
I believe that every child can be successful. It does depend how you measure success, though. But with the right support – and the right amount of time – children can learn what you are teaching them. All skills are taught, almost by definition. Some people are more interested in some areas. Some people seem a little more predisposed to learn things in certain areas, too… but they still have to learn them.
But it’s not all about exam results. What other important things does private tutoring offer a budding student?
In terms of writing – confidence. A big part of working one-to-one with a child is the confidence you can give them, teaching them the scaffolding of how to start writing, how to create their author’s voice, and how to plan their work successfully.
It also offers a contrast to their school day. It never feels like “Eurgh! More school!”. When I tutor, children are keen to see me and to work.
You’ve worked with a wide range of pupils, including international-language students. Did you pick up any skills that you still use in teaching today?
The most important thing I learnt from teaching English to international students is to grade my language to meet the learner. That, and the opportunity to try out something new. In ‘English as a Second Language’ teaching we use a lot of role play, a lot of opportunities to ‘try on’ new grammar or conversational skills. Children need the chance to try something out before they have to use it in writing – and that translates to all kinds of teaching.
What does a typical day look like in the world of Rob Fletcher?
My days are never typical! Week to week my day changes. I’m usually up at 6 am and home at 6.30 or 7 pm… but what happens in the middle of that can be anyone’s guess!
And finally, Rob, tell us: if you had to pick one book to share with a tutee, which one would it be?
I love Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing. People often undervalue picture books for older learners. They are wonderful for imagination, interpreting and for a variety of inference skills. Also the pictures are gorgeous!