One of the most celebrated occupations in the world is being a TEACHER. As a matter of fact, different countries celebrate Teacher's Day on different dates, but the main reason for this occasion remains universal.

To teach effectively, a teacher must develop a feeling for his subject; he cannot make his students sense its vitality if he does not sense it himself. He cannot share his enthusiasm when he has no enthusiasm to share. How he makes his point may be as important as the point he makes; he must personally feel it to be important. - George Polya

Reflecting on the above quote, what does it take apart from passion and proficiency in Maths to be a good Maths teacher/tutor?

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Do I need to have a degree in Mathematics in order to teach Maths later?

Take note that there is no definite right or wrong answer to this question. It solely depends on where and how you want to approach the teaching of Mathematics.

a) Yes (if you want to teach Mathematics as a profession)

There are several majors that you can consider studying in university if you intend to become a Mathematics teacher in a government or international institution. This means you will be given a full-time working position where you will receive a monthly salary as a Maths teacher.

Those who intend to teach in a government school will usually take the traditional route of a Bachelor in Education which majors in Mathematical Studies. For instance, University Teknology Mara offers the programme: Bachelor of Science Education (Hons.) Mathematics. Let's say that if you are interested to teach in a university, you can also enrol for postgraduate programs that major in Mathematics. One example that is offered by a local university is the Master of Education (Mathematics Education) programme offered by the University of Malaya.

If you intend to study Mathematics as a separate subject from education, you can certainly do a degree in Statistics, Management Mathematics or even Business Mathematics. As long as you have an undergraduate degree, you are eligible to apply for a government teacher position according to the standards of the Public Service Department in Malaysia (known as JPA in Malay).

Maths tutor background
A background in Mathematics or Statistics will come in handy if you want to be a Maths teacher. Source: Photo by Anna Nekrashevich from Pexels

b) No (if you want to teach Mathematics as a career, side hustle or start a tutoring business)

This applies to any of you who do not intend to teach Mathematics at an official educational institution such as schools, colleges or university. For instance, if you have a degree in Finance and Banking or a degree in Chemistry, you can still be a Maths tutor and teach students through private home tutoring or online Maths tutoring.

Having said that, you can switch from working as a Maths teacher at a local school to a Maths tutor who has flexible working hours and the paying rates. Even if you have an education-related degree in Mathematics, this does not mean you can only teach Mathematics in official schools or educational institutions.

Can I still tutor Maths if I have zero teaching experience?

This brings us to another element that is frequently debated and highlighted when it comes to teaching apart from the academic qualification, which is teaching experience.

Some of you may think that your lack of teaching experience will be a great disadvantage if you want to tutor Maths. That is not really the case. Having great teaching experience is not the same as having great teaching quality.

So, the answer to the question of the headline is yes. In fact, you can start tutoring even if you are still a student. For instance, if you are studying Engineering in university, you can certainly tutor students who are studying in lower secondary, upper secondary, Form Six students and even students who are taking the IGCSE examination at international schools. It is entirely up to you gradually develop your teaching style and teaching methodology to teach Mathematics to various students.

If you are currently working in a non-teaching job and want to take up the role of a Maths tutor as a side hustle, it is not a problem at all! You can still be an amazing Maths tutor even if you have been working as an actuary, finance planner, engineer, account or researcher.

The idea of tutoring Maths is not solely to teach your students the A-Z about what is taught in the textbook, but also to let them know how Maths is relevant in our everyday life.

Your working and industrial experience alongside your passion for Mathematics will enable you to explain Mathematical concepts in an engaging and fun way beyond the formulas and numbers. For instance, if you are working in the finance industry, you can talk about the importance of using numbers to generate information and data to solve our daily problems and also to make our lives better (like the example of financial technology and e-wallets).

Maths tuition malaysia
Your industrial experience can help you as a Maths tutor in the long run.
Source: Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

What does it take to be a good Maths tutor?

Good teaching skills can be developed with consistent and intentional practice. Here are some characteristics of a good Maths tutor that you should take note of once you start tutoring:

a) Explain Mathematics in a simple and systematic manner

Your key role as a Maths tutor is to make your students understand and successfully apply what they have learnt during your lessons during examinations and in real-life situations later. Start with simple explanations and questions. Once your students are more confident, increase the level of difficulty by inserting more elaboration.

It does not help if you just focus on writing lines after lines of formulas and solutions to prove your point when your student generally do not comprehend the basics in the first place. Try not to skip or randomly jump between concepts and assume that your students will understand all of them.

b) Don't stick to only one type of teaching method

One of the reasons why many students raise the white flag while learning Mathematics is due to their lack of interest during lessons. Certain Mathematical concepts require you to be more creative and innovative when you are teaching them. For instance, you can insert some role play in the form of card games and diagrams while explaining the concept of probability.

You can also come out with a question and answer board in Padlet if you are teaching Maths online whereby students can insert any questions that they have come across in between the lessons. Another method that you can also try out is to let your students watch an animation about geometry so that they can view the concepts of various shapes through different angles and colours. This will lead them to focus well and remember the characteristics better.

c) Allow your students to make mistakes (build their confidence)

In Mathematics, several questions may require students to combine several Mathematical operations from various concepts. At times, they may feel confused, unsure or even develop Maths' anxiety about making mistakes. As a Maths tutor, you can certainly step in to help them reduce this anxiety by building their confidence to connect between various topics.

Introduce certain keywords and illustrations to help them remember better with more practice and remind them that it is okay to make mistakes sometimes. The most important thing is to remember what caused the mistakes in the first place (your student might be unclear about a topic) and do better the next round. 

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Remind your students that mistakes are inevitable when they are doing Maths exercises. Source: Photo by Monstera from Pexels

A guide to starting your Maths tutoring journey with Superprof

After reading the above paragraphs, you happen to realise that you do not have a degree in Mathematics or 10 years of teaching experience. But you still want to try out as a Maths tutor! Congratulations! But now, you have more questions.

1. Where should you start?
2. How should you start as a Maths tutor?
3. Which is the best tutoring platform for someone like you?
4. How are you going to find students to teach Mathematics?
5. Can you teach both in-person Maths lessons and online lessons?

All of the answers to the above questions can be found in one place - SUPERPROF!

As an established global learning platform that emphasizes the connection between tutors and students, Superprof is a great place to kickstart your Maths tutoring journey. Your academic qualification and teaching experience are certainly not barriers to hold you back, instead, they will be included in your tutor's profile for potential students to view them. Some students may prefer to learn from a tutor that is a student or from a tutor who has worked as an engineer.

At Superprof, what matters the most is your commitment and passion to share the knowledge of Mathematics with them and help them to be more confident and better at the taught subject! Apart from that, it is absolutely free to create a tutoring ad at Superprof and it only takes around 10 minutes to come out with an elaborated profile. After verification from the Superprof team, your tutor profile will then be published and appear on the Superprof's tutoring homepage.

Superprof also believes in the importance of flexibility during the teaching and learning process between tutors and students. It is entirely up to you to decide whether you want to teach solely online classes or you are open to in-person lessons too. Furthermore, you can also list down the educational levels that you prefer to teach at your tutor's profile alongside your personal rate as a Maths tutor.

In other words, you are the one in charge of your Maths tutoring service!

If you are passionate about Mathematics and education, this could be the signal for you to launch your Maths tutoring venture! You will not go wrong when you start with Superprof!

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