Educator stories: Make 1-on-1 classes part of your teaching business
Educator Paris Curno shares how she’s grown her teaching portfolio by strategically adding private classes.

When you picture 1-on-1 classes, you may imagine tutoring sessions in math or language or private music lessons.

It’s also possible — and even a good idea — to offer individual classes on a wide range of topics as part of your online teaching business. A quick survey of Outschool classes uncovered 1-on-1 meetings on handwriting, organization and time management, conversation skills, chess, yoga, and interview coaching in addition to more common individual class topics like reading comprehension, algebra, and singing.

Paris Curno

We spoke with one educator based in Australia, Paris Curno, who mixes 1-on-1 classes on less common topics into her class offerings on Outschool. She shared why she made that decision and how she’s been successful in teaching 1-on-1 classes on a range of topics.

Give learners the option of 1-on-1

Paris schedules 1-on-1 classes in different subjects that she teaches to groups just to see if learners will enroll.

“If I think about photography,” she said, “I’ve got an 8-week camp, a group class, and then I offer 1-on-1 one-time classes and 1-on-1 ongoing classes. I’m kind of offering lots of different formats to see what lands.”

She takes this approach with other subjects too, such as her book clubs and classes on creative writing and drawing. Lately, her one-on-one classes in photography and creative writing have been more popular than her group classes.

Use private classes strategically

Paris has found that 1-on-1 classes are easy to add to her schedule and can build connections with learners and lead to more enrollments. Plus, she’s quick to add that she enjoys them. Here’s her take on their benefits.

  • Private classes can fill a gap in the schedule. If Paris finds that she has extra time the next day, she can easily add in a few 1-on-1 classes. “I’m not going to offer a group class tomorrow for one student because that’s not worth our time,” she said. “But a 1-on-1 is a booking that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.” This approach allows Paris to be in control of her schedule and to devote time to other passions, such as taking photos and writing a screenplay.
  • They’re a chance to build rapport and give individual attention to learners. Done well, they can be a stepping stone to a deeper relationship. Strong connections with students are often a key reason that learners return to take more classes. Paris notes that some learners are shy, so that can be a motivating factor for taking a 1-on-1 class. Parents also may want to get to know you via their learner and make sure the educator and classes are a good fit, she adds.
  • One-time, private classes can be an effective way for some learners to get started in classes on a subject, she says. This can lead to ongoing classes, which provide a more consistent revenue stream. “Often I find that if they do a one-time class and we get along,” she said, “they’ll want to do an ongoing thing.”
  • Finally, individual classes can be more relaxing, in Paris’ view. She is not managing a class of learners and their needs. “Group classes are wonderful. I love group classes,” she said. “But they do require a different amount of energy to make sure everyone’s with you.”

Be ready with lessons

Building on her deep knowledge of the topics she teaches, Paris has been able to create class materials that cover many aspects of each subject. So she often has lessons ready to share in individual sessions, once she finds out a learner’s interest and skill level.

Learners come to her 1-on-1 photography classes, for instance, with a wide range of abilities. Some may not have ever used a camera but may have a phone or tablet.

“I need to be prepared to tailor to their needs,” she said. “I’ve prepared so much content that there’s always something we can talk about.”

She starts by sharing a list of possible areas to focus on — in photography, that could be animals, landscapes, still life, portraits. Then she’s usually able to find already created material to align with topics the learner wants to study.

Paris on content creation for private classes

If a learner in an ongoing class has an interest in a subject that Paris hasn’t created content for, she will develop materials for them. This can be time-consuming, she says, but it’s often worth it for learners who have been in classes for a while.

Try 4 more ways to increase tutoring enrollments

Other recommendations Paris has for educators looking to build their online teaching business include:

1. Send a note to parents after class and share something positive their child is doing in class. This can also be a time to:

  • Ask the parent to write a review. “The number of parents that review once you just ask for one is phenomenal,” Paris said.
  • Let parents know that if their child wants to continue with a topic, there’s a lot more to learn. Then share any relevant classes.

2. At the end of a class, mention other classes that learners might like to take.

3. Offer classes on fun topics that interest learners.

For instance, Paris thinks that learners from other places in the world join her book discussion classes because they can hone their English conversation skills while talking about popular novels that highlight wizardry and magic.

4. Teach topics that you enjoy! You’ll likely be talking about them often.

Ultimately, Paris points to the importance of bringing relationship-building qualities like patience, kindness, and friendliness to the classroom since she believes these play a significant role in learners’ desire to come back.

“A lot of kids just want to be listened to,” she said, “and they kind of shine a bit when you’re giving them your attention.”

To explore more resources on teaching 1-on-1 classes, check out Outschool’s professional development module on the topic as well as Educator Library articles that highlight strategies for success.

Watch the video below to see the full interview with Paris.

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