Why the Wild West of Freelance Education Is a Problem
When you hear the word “goldrush,” what comes to mind? I imagine a burly, bearded man with a pickaxe in one hand and a crude map in the other. Others might picture a crowded riverbed, gorged with people frantically sifting for an opportunity. I have played this visualization with friends and family members for the last few weeks, and unsurprisingly, the words that pepper almost every description are opportunity and riches. Oddly, people don’t describe the dark side of the goldrush – the violence and destruction that is commonplace with such desperation.
A quick google search of “freelance education COVID-19” will produce article after article about why there has never been a better time to start a freelance tutoring business or to launch an online education company. The majority of these articles encourage the same three-step plan: decide what you want to teach, market yourself (usually through social media), and rake in cash. There is one big problem with this, though: most of these educational prospectors neither have the experience nor the support to truly help students succeed. All in all, the pickaxe approach to educational support hurts families.
We encourage parents to be wary of this paradigm shift in educational support. In this new educational environment, there are plenty of “educational experts” coming out of the woodwork. The rapid growth in demand for educational support, however, is a double-edge sword. On the one hand, the need for educational support personnel, particularly in the specialties of executive functioning development and subject-specific enrichment, could not be higher with the mounting confusion in virtual/hybrid school models and the disturbing learning loss as students remain out of the classroom. Naturally, with high demand comes a host of other problems with dependability, experience, and versatility. Below, we outline the four main dangers of inexperienced educational professionals.
Parents hire educational support for a wide variety of reasons, but one of the main ones is dependability. You want someone who is going to be in your corner when you need them. What happens when these educational freelancers get sick? What if they have to go out of town for some reason? What if their car breaks down? My point is that parents and students alike don’t want to be stranded. With reputable educational support companies, there is a deep bench to help students succeed. If, for whatever reason, an academic coach cannot see a student that day, the right companies are prepared with a substitute, robust online platforms, and other contingencies to keep students thriving.
Especially in this time of chaos, an experienced coach is a game-changer. With continually shifting school policies and the interweaving of virtual and in-person instruction, fluency in both content and technology is crucial. Inexperienced freelancers often are unfamiliar with new school policies and the technologies that make them possible. However, an academic coach from a reputable company will not only have exposure to a variety of students at different schools, but he or she will also have a support staff of seasoned veterans for guidance.
Once again, there is no data for this unprecedented school year. Asynchronous learning, hybrid teaching models, and the advent of “quaranteams” will affect students in different ways. Students need a personalized plan to reach their potential and safeguard their mental health in this “new normal.” Students with learning differences need additional help to adjust to the lack of structure. That’s a challenging goal for seasoned educational professionals, and near impossible for an amateur to pick up on the fly.
Safety is always most important! If this pandemic has taught us nothing else, it has reaffirmed that keeping our families safe is paramount. The entire world has implemented great measures during these uncertain times in the name of safety over all other things. Established educational support organizations have taken costly measures for years to thoroughly vet their team of professionals, participate in ongoing development, carry robust insurance policies, and maintain an infrastructure of support staff. For your safety and for the safety of your family, be sure to do your research and ask the right questions when interviewing someone claiming to be an educational support professional.
Ultimately, our primary goal is to give students and their families the resources they need to succeed. We would be more than happy to work with your child to build executive functioning skills, conquer the classroom, and reach their academic potential. Regardless of who you engage for help, please be wary of educational prospectors who have a pickaxe approach. Don’t be fooled!