Becca Garcia: From Publishing Professional to Teacher to Tutor.
Why did you make your latest transition?
I left the classroom because I felt frustrated by the amount of required testing and assessment. I felt confined by what I had to teach and when I had to teach it.
What are you doing now?
With a partner, I am running a morning enrichment group for children and doing private math and reading tutoring in the afternoons. I also take substitute teacher gigs occasionally for a school that I know well because I like to stay current on what’s being taught and I like the opportunity to look at what students are doing in the classroom setting.
How did you decide to pursue these opportunities?
I’d always wanted to do more tutoring but didn’t have enough time because I was teaching. I was too tired to do more at the end of a long day. I found that I wanted to work with kids in a more relaxed environment and a smaller setting. My passion for teaching young children and wanting to continue that led me to start my own business.
What surprised you most about your transition?
I felt surprised by the amount of time I’ve been putting into each lesson. I can be a perfectionist and so I do tend to over prepare, but I’m also excited by the limitless creativity I can tap now that I don’t have to stop and go to a meeting or be bound by the school schedule. For example, if I want to make up a new game to work on fractions, I can. If I feel like creating a unit on Dr. Seuss, I do. I’m enjoying the freedom. I’m also surprised at how much schedule coordination there is because of how busy children are today. One more thing that I notice that was unexpected is how quickly teachers progress through units.
What advice would you give to someone in the same circumstances?
Extract the parts of what you do that you love and keep doing them. In my case, I am in the zone when I’m individualizing and customizing strategies and plans for a child. So, I built a business that allows me to focus mostly on that. One way to figure out how that could work is to start small—I did that by first tutoring just a few kids. I saw that it really worked for me and that I can deal without having a school setting.
Given your vast experience both professionally and personally, do you have a top 5 or 10 list of things that you would tell people if they would like to follow in your footsteps or follow a similar path?
-Be willing to try anything to get a student to understand a concept.
-Be patient and flexible with yourself.
-Find a person you trust to collaborate with and deconstruct lessons.
-Put everything important in writing with parents to avoid misunderstandings.
-Continue to think outside the box on all fronts.
-Keep good records of your reflections on different lessons. It makes you better.
For more information on being a Tutor, check out our Amava Spotlight.
Becca Garcia is the co-Founder of West Menlo Tutoring. She worked in the magazine publishing industry for nine years before returning to school full-time to earn a Multiple Subject teaching credential. Becca taught kindergarten through third grade and English Language Development both full-time and later as a long-term substitute. Becca is always looking for opportunities to make learning engaging and fun for students, striving to find out how each one learns best.