//The Background Check Files – Tutors
A private tutor is going to be expensive; trust me, I spent five years getting good at it.
Let me start again… that was discouraging.
You or someone you care about needs some extra study time on particular subjects and there is no shame in seeking that kind of help. It is something that should be invited and embraced. Way to be.
But, because tutoring is a niche field—good tutors are hard to come by, and because you are going to be laying down some dough, having a game plan for a background check is going to be the first step to finding the right tutor for the right situation; with the right experience, and at the right price. A background check will be your tool to capably acquiring whatever knowledge you desire.
Civil records, federal records, job history, credit check… the list goes on—a background check (consumer report) should provide you with slice of every public pie.
Where should your background check start?
No question that finding a great tutor will be a challenge. Craigslist and newspaper ads are sketchy (my wife was LITERALLY almost scammed on CL today); the best people you probably want already have a job doing it—teaching; and, between the grading, lesson plans, extra credit, reading papers, and office hours there is not much time for those educated professionals to divvy out any more time for educational purposes (we want to have fun too!). But if you have a college or university center nearby, that should be the first place to start looking despite what I just said.
College Learning Centers
And don’t limit yourself to the big U’s— community colleges, community centers, and university conglomerates often have some type of in house tutoring room/department that will likely focus on Math (geometry, algebra, trigonometry, basic, etc), English (writing, grammar, documentation), and science (biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, geo, etc). At these “Learning Centers,” they often employ professionals in the field (already with their BA, MA), faculty and staff from the college/university, as well as students.
There’s no harm in asking. And if someone is interested, take the next step and ask if you could watch them perform during a session. If you like what you see, ask around (if you want to be “Minnesota Nice” polite you should ask if that was cool before doing so) and see what feedback his/her’s co-workers or fellow students have.
Take it with a grain of salt, no one wants to be a jerk or tattletale. But, students that have found success with a tutor are often too happy to provide excellent feedback on what worked or didn’t.
If it’s a teacher, ask permission to view his/her class in session. Why not?
Check high schools
Ok, so you don’t have any college level schools in the area. God bless them for what they do and how much they get paid to do it, but you may try calling up the local high schools in the area. You would be hard pressed NOT to find someone who might be interested BECAUSE of how poor the economy has been doing. It is the same idea with these teachers: ask if they would let you sit in on a class, ask the principal about him/her, see if you know any friends with students at the school who could give you an HONEST opinion.
Name brand learning
OK, still no bites? Is there a name brand tutoring service in the area? That’s almost cheating because they have a good cream of the crop that are tested and true—no leg work, no consumer reports necessary. But, you will be paying that money back in the end because they are NOT going to be cheap. However, quality is important and you’ll know what you’ll be getting. Places like Sylvan already do background checks on their employees, not to mention a thorough screening and interviewing process. Not only that, but they will be organized and have world of resources at their disposal.
Google Searching and background checks
So, we have covered a few of the better options for finding a reputable source for a tutor, and let’s just say you have found someone where like what you see, maybe it’s time to do a Goggle search. This won’t give away too much, but that same person that tried to scam my wife was uncovered when she did a Google search on his name and found 20 other people explaining how he tried to scam them!
It’s not necessarily wrong, but neither should you base your conclusion on what you find on the internet or on social media pages. But, it’s worth noting that his or her Facebook picture includes a beer bong and topless women.
While you are searching, avoid the temptation of the “free-background checks,” which, I PROMISE YOU, will require you to the bulk of the work only to find they are not as free as they advertised.
But a background check is a good idea.
At the low end of things, twenty-five bucks and hour is cheap for a good tutor. A background check will pay for itself after the first few days and will either confirm or deny the credibility of the individual you are doing a search on.
Obvious red flags are going to appear:
- Civil records (drunk driving, outstanding tickets)
- Federal records (drug possession, anything violent)
- Credit reports (get the big three)
- Job history (is there relative experience?)
- Address search (are they moving all over the place for short periods of time?)
- Overall all inconsistence (is he or she saying one thing but are you finding out something else?)
Finding a reputable background checking source will limit the headaches of confirming facts and denying falsifications.
Now you have someone, you like his/her style with teaching and comes back with a clean record, it is time to talk business. Like a proper (NON free) background check, the quality of the interview and terms are just as important as double checking civil records or an address search. Identify the terms that you will be working under… which means…
- How much will it cost an hour
- How will you gage progression (very important—how do you know the student is succeeding)
- Rewards and consequences for the tutee (unless it’s you)
- Be optimistic but realistic
Tutoring, like anything else (SEO, weight training, a good book), it takes time. It’s important to have a positive attitude going into the experience and have optimistic goals; just don’t expect grades or intelligence to soar off the charts in the first few weeks. Little steps and small goals will be the best way to not burn out, get too tired, or put too much pressure on the student.
Paper trail = tax write offs = avoid tax audits
I will conclude with this… document everything. Let the tutor know that you will be claiming everything that is happening and that he or she should expect to do the same. If you want to invest a few thousand dollars on your education, make sure Uncle Sam knows it because you can get credit for it—because you can.
This is also one last thing to check up on with a Background check—past employment. Did the tutor claim to be a professional tutor and did he or she claim such employment with the government? Likely, if the answer is no, and he or she already is looking sketchy, you don’t want to have anything to do with him or her. A tax audit is not a fun process. Double checking that the tutor’s employment history is does include some claimed income from such a career.
So to recap:
- Call a college or university learning center
- Focus on your subject
- Ask to watch him/her tutor/teach
- Ask around (politely)
- Contact local teachers (preferably at a high school or college level)
- AVOID craigslist or adds in the paper
- You are more likely to get scammed than not to, in my experience)
- Check any legit Learning Center’s nearby (but prepare to REALLY pay)
- AVOID 100% Free background Check websites
- They make you do all the work
- NOT FREE
- Invest in a background check (consumer report) and double check
- Civil records
- Federal records
- Educational background (if available)
- Employment history (double check they claimed income for tutoring if possible)
- Address searches (make sure they have had a consistent residence)
- Cedit history (are they taking jobs now out of rushed distress?)
- Set terms with the individual
- How much an hour, for how many hours a week
- Keep an open communication
- Set a timeline with goals, progression, and an overall game plan
- And oh yeah, Leave a paper trail! Those tax write offs will enable you to continue expanding your knowledge with everthing!
Yes, that was corny, but there is never any reason to stop learning, no dog is too old to learn a new trick. Just make sure you find the right person to do the training and do your homework (no pun intended) to make sure he or she is the right person for you!