If you’re thinking about taking music lessons, fitness classes, or any other type of one-on-one instruction, you might start by taking a look at your schedule and budget. But don’t forget that finding the right teacher should be just as important, and in some situations, an even bigger priority. Think about it: your teacher will be the one pacing your lessons. And when it comes to learning, nobody is the same. Your teacher, then, has to match up well with your learning style and personality, and understand how to keep you motivated.
As you search for your teacher, consider the following questions and think about what you need as a student:
1) What’s your learning style?
Everyone has their own unique way of learning and retaining information. Think back to when you were in school (or if you’re setting up lessons for your child, ask him or her what currently works) – were you always doodling in your notebook? Did you learn best from looking at diagrams or images? Did you color-code your notes, or did rewriting them over and over help with memorization? No matter what subject you’re taking on, your teacher should cater your lessons toward your personal learning style – and some may be better than others at this. Try discussing this with your teacher at your first lesson, and make sure they understand how to tailor your lessons appropriately.
Along with this, keep special needs or learning disabilities in mind. Check in with your instructor prior to your first lesson to discuss your needs, and make sure your teacher is equipped to help.
2) Do you want to learn specific concepts, niches, or genres within your lessons?
Looking for private tutoring for your child? Perhaps your elementary student is struggling with math overall, and would benefit from some extra guidance. For older students, however, often the struggle is in a specific concept within their math class, such as algebra, geometry, or calculus. Or, maybe it’s more SAT prep than just math.
Similarly, as a music student, you wouldn’t just book a “music teacher” – you’d be looking for a guitar teacher, a piano teacher, or a trumpet teacher. And if you have a specific genre or goal in mind, you’ll have an even better experience booking a Flamenco guitar teacher, a classical guitar teacher, or a country guitar teacher. Finding an instructor who lists these kinds of specific subjects will help you stay focused on your goals and individual needs.
3) What’s your experience level?
Even the best teachers and professionals once started out right where you are, as a beginner! And they may have even started teaching years before they became experts, gaining experience along the way. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your teacher is equipped to teach a student at your level. This isn’t a big deal for a beginner, but should be taken into account for intermediate and advanced students.
The student’s age plays a big part, too. If you’re booking lessons for a child, finding someone with experience teaching kids can make a huge difference – they’ll know how to remain patient, keep your child focused, and cater each lesson plan appropriately. Teens may work best with younger teachers they can identify with, or need someone who guides them along without making them feel like a child.
4) Is finding a teacher who has been background checked important to you?
We know safety is a big concern for many students and families – especially if you’re inviting your instructor into your home for lessons. As you’re searching for a teacher on TakeLessons.com, simply look for the “Background Check: Verified” label within teacher profiles, which shows they’ve completed an annual criminal background check. (Learn more about our background checks here.)
5) Do you have schedule restrictions?
Is your scheduling always changing, do you have other commitments that might get in the way of a consistent lesson time, or do you travel often for work? If you need a teacher who can accommodate a more flexible schedule, keep this mind. Teachers may have different policies regarding reschedules or cancellations, so discuss this before any issues come up. If you’re looking for a certain day or time, filter your search results as needed to see teachers with open availability. (Tip: Really wonky schedule? Consider our Schedule As You Go plan, which allows you to book lessons one by one according to your availability, instead of selecting a weekly time slot.)
6) Is your teacher’s experience level important to you?
Would you prefer that your teacher has years of experience, over someone fresh out of college? TakeLessons teachers have the opportunity to add their affiliations, awards, and years of teaching experience to their profile. However, keep in mind that often this is more of a personal preference. Younger students, for example, often identify better with younger teachers, who can teach the basics and be a fantastic role model for inspiration. Don’t discredit a teacher based on these factors, but you may want to keep it in mind if it’s important to you.
7) Do you want to take lessons or classes in a studio, in your home, or online?
Logistics matter! Will you be easily distracted taking lessons in your home? Are you a frequent traveler who needs the convenience of online lessons? Filter your search results by Location to view the teachers who offer what you need. (Not sure how to choose your lesson location? Here are four questions to ask yourself.)
8) Have you seen reviews or feedback about the instructor?
Trying to decide between two teachers in your area? Reading feedback from other students can be incredibly helpful! Past and current students can rate their TakeLessons teacher in several areas, including professionalism, reliability, and teaching skill, as well as provide open-ended feedback about their experience. This feedback displays at the bottom of our teacher profiles, and can also be filtered within search results.
Finally, once you’ve selected your teacher, don’t feel like you’re locked in. Sometimes, personalities clash. Maybe your teacher’s studio location isn’t where you thought it would be, or they weren’t equipped for your goals and needs. As time goes on, you might need an instructor who teaches at a more advanced level. Whatever the case, remember that you’re free to switch teachers at any time. As a student, you’re in charge of your success – and pairing with the perfect teacher for you is part of that!
Photo by Shane Global Language Centres