Joe B.

Joe B.

£20 per hour

Hi, I've tutored for 12 years, specialising in teaching students with dyslexia or dyscalculia to exceed their expectations in English, maths and science. I am currently living in Bali, studying towards a masters in Dyslexia and Literacy, and thanks to the low living costs here I am happy to have the opportunity to charge a very affordable rate.

My students can enjoy an experience of rapid progress in their understanding, learning with a calm and patient, but methodical and goal-oriented approach that achieves great results.

Since 2007 I have tutored multiple students across all primary and secondary year groups, both in homes (including comprehensive home schooling programmes to students not attending regular school), in extra-curricular day schools such as the Dyslexia Teaching Centre in Kensington (where I was responsible for the academic rehabilitation of a number of students who had left school for a variety of reasons), on various revision booster programmes, and, increasingly, online. I have travelled to many different countries with four different families.

I have successfully assisted students with entry to top independent schools such as Eton, Westminster, City of London, St. Paul’s, Harrow, Marlborough School for Girls and many others. I helped created and coordinate a tutor-training programme for a London-based tutoring agency, where my role included follow-up assessment and mentoring of tutors. This greatly expanded my knowledge and experience of ‘best practice’.

I love teaching, because helping somebody work hard, often in stressful, challenging circumstances, to then achieve their goal is one of the most rewarding feelings I have had. Being able to make a difference, to make the difficult seem easy, and to increase confidence and happiness is a real privilege.

I consider the consistent success that I have had with high- achieving students aiming for prestigious schools to be a direct result of my experience working with students with dyslexia and other SpLD. With students who find it difficult to concentrate, understand abstract concepts, and then to retain that knowledge, patience and understanding is incredibly important. Thorough assessment of specific needs and comprehensive lesson preparation is crucial to ensure the lessons are effective.

Methods, for example ensuring difficult concepts are delivered in manageable chunks, including enjoyable activities and learning-active breaks, using multi-sensory learning, and providing regular, compassionate, useful feedback, are absolutely necessary for many learners with SEN. Students without SpLD often can learn without such personalisation and comprehensive planning, but when they are given equivalent patience focus on minimising difficulties and maximising strengths then, unsurprisingly, it yields excellent results.

My approach is to first assess a students needs as accurately as possible, using both Q&A discussion and short assessments. This is important to determine not just their level of knowledge and the appropriate focus for early lessons, but also the teaching style that they might respond best to, as well as any other areas of support they might need (such as timetabling, explaining assignments, homework support). I then plan medium-term objectives, and each lesson focuses on one key short-term learning objective, all leading towards the ultimate goal. This and regular reports make it easy for all parties involved to monitor and enjoy the progress.

My aim is that my students leave the classes happier, more confident and, of course, more knowledgeable than when they arrived.

Dyslexia is most noticeable in phonological (word sound/ structure) difficulties, and information absorption. This is generally due to relatively poor 'working memory', i.e. the aspect of our minds that allow us to think usefully about more than one thing at once. High working memory means you can do things like: hold five new words in your head, then memorise a number, write a sentence including those words whilst repeatedly taking 100 off of the number. It is not, in itself, a useful thing. But it is very important in school, where students are expected to absorb a lot of new information daily, and often this information only makes intuitive sense if the other information learned before makes sense. Something missed early can be ruinous for a dyslexic student's academic life.

But poor working memory, relative to other markers of intelligence, (i.e. dyslexia) is generally only a problem when too much unlearned information is presented together at once. This is why reading can be particularly stressful/ pointless.

If one thing is poorly understood, for example fractions, then it stresses the brain to try to use knowledge of that thing to understand a new concept, like percentages. Knowing how fractions work, though, then makes it easy to understand percentages. Poor working memory makes it vitally important that precursor information is fully understand, intuitively understood even. Students with relatively poor working memory will learn next to nothing if the preceding knowledge is not properly learned. Taught properly, students will be able to understand all of the concepts necessary to excel at school. It is just very important that they are fed the new information at the right pace. Slow and steady wins the race! School lasts a long time for a reason.

To help my clients and student understand how they can be clever but struggle at school, I like to use the analogy of two detectives. One is very intelligent but she is dyslexic, one is quite intelligent and he is not dyslexic. A new case comes in and the detectives are briefed by their boss. There's a lot of new information at once, and a big file to work through. Usually the non-dyslexic detective can solve the cases faster. He is more able to connect lots of concepts together without fully understanding each, and so reaching the eureka moment faster. However, this latest case is much more complex. This time, the dyslexic detective solves the crime, because she has the time to map out the evidence and fully understand all the pieces.

For dyslexic people, learning can sometimes feel very much like it does when a teenager's parents teaches them to drive. Too much information, too quickly, very stressful, complete shutdown and no progress (tantrums on both sides!). However, as the different aspects of driving are learned, the brain isn't stressed by them, and so they can progress to include more complicated manoeuvres. Soon they are negotiating difficult roundabouts whilst chatting away happily. The important thing is to learn at the right pace, and to know what the important underlying concepts are in the knowledge you are trying to learn. When learning about the circulatory system, it's worth taking time to consider if we are really comfortable with what blood even is and what it does. If not, it will be difficult to internalise why it's being delivered so precisely to the organs.


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