Educator stories: How to multiply enrollments for 1-on-1 classes
Verlanie Varela grew her math tutoring business by carefully marketing her classes. She keeps her learners coming back by individualizing sessions and demystifying math.

Verlanie Varela teaches more than 30 1-on-1 math classes on Outschool each week, Sunday through Thursday.

She started putting her math degree to use on Outschool at the end of 2020 after taking advantage of professional development opportunities that Outschool offers educators who are new to the platform. During the summer of 2021 she also worked in a bakery while finishing at culinary school, but tutoring on Outschool won out. She wishes, in fact, that she had discovered Outschool earlier.

Two factors contribute to Verlanie’s success in growing her teaching business: effective marketing and the quality of her teaching. As one parent wrote, Verlanie makes learning about fractions “easily digestible.”

Here are some recommendations, based on Verlanie’s experiences, for educators looking to grow their own following on Outschool with 1-on-1 classes.

Provide personalized learning

While teaching college-level precalculus and calculus before joining Outschool, Verlanie noticed that many of her students didn’t have a firm knowledge of math fundamentals like algebra and geometry. She realized she could help middle and high school students improve their basic math skills by providing tutoring online.

Since each of her 1-on-1 classes is 55 minutes long, she’s able to get to know learners and discover the best ways to support their learning.

“I like the 1-on-1 classes because I can create a better relationship and tailor the class to each person’s learning style,” she said. “After I meet them once, I get a view of how they learn.”

During the first session with a learner, Verlanie tries different teaching techniques. If one doesn’t work, she’ll try another.

Verlanie enjoys technology and incorporates a number of different tools to support her learners, based on their learning needs and the particular math challenges they’re facing. Occasionally, she will prepare particular lessons if a learner or parent requests it, but mostly she adapts her teaching to whatever math questions a learner presents.

Since most of her students are visual learners, she often shares her screen and uses the whiteboard feature on Zoom. She frequently adds annotations, writing equations using her mouse (pictured below). Online simulators with compasses and protractors are other tools she’ll include in her geometry help sessions.

Use marketing to get noticed

Verlanie kicked off her classes by scheduling sections two weeks ahead for visibility, promoting them via Facebook, and asking parents of her first learners to leave reviews.

Although many parents just give star ratings, she said, “some of them do leave genuine comments, and I think they help enrollments.” She is grateful for one parent whose son took regular classes with her and left a positive review for every class.

Verlanie has offered fun group math classes and may again, but “the demand is on tutoring right now, and that’s the classes that I list.”

Learners quickly began asking for weekly sessions, and now she mainly teaches ongoing 1-on-1 classes that meet once or twice a week. She also posts some one-time classes because she has learners that come regularly but just not on a set schedule.

“By Sunday or Sunday night I am usually booked for the rest of the week,” she said. So learners who come regularly but at different times know they need to book ahead to get a one-time slot.

Verlanie teaches from 12:45 to 9:20 p.m. Pacific Time during the week to accommodate learners across the country and a few internationally. At 12:45 p.m, learners in Central and Eastern Time Zones are generally out of school and can attend tutoring. A couple hours after that, learners in those time zones who play sports are ready for help with math. Then after 6 p.m., her learners are mostly on the West Coast.

Besides strategic scheduling, Verlanie still uses some marketing techniques to keep her classes in the forefront when parents search online. Approaches she use include:

  • Scheduling 1-on-1 classes in the morning that often don’t fill up but keep her sessions appearing in searches of available classes
  • Using the same class image – a branding of sorts – for all of her 1-on-1 sessions so families who are looking for math tutoring see that image frequently

Keep it fresh

What’s next for Verlanie? Remember her culinary background? Once she gets a suitable kitchen, those pastry chef skills may come out. Look for her baking classes next.

What’s next for you in your teaching journey on Outschool? Check out these resources to get started with your own 1-on-1 classes or try new marketing strategies.

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