I work as an editor and proofreader and a university educator but I really love High School English Tutoring. I get so much out of helping 13-17 year olds with, to use their words, “stupid English assignments”.


I’ve just finished up with one student as she’s finished her year 12 exams. I saw her for two years and watched her grow into an almost love of the subject. She hated it before our sessions. And now she sees English as a gateway into all other subjects. I’ve also just picked up another student in year 8. He’s a boy and he’s generally disinterested in school. But this week I got him writing a repetitious Haiku and you know what? Despite his complaining, he didn’t die.


Here are some reasons why I love English tutoring so much….


English tutoring actually helps with my every day work

High school English tutoring helps me with university teaching, as it allows me to connect with a secondary student’s level of thinking, writing and expression. It helps me become familiar with curriculum that leads students to tertiary study. I have a much better understanding of my uni students by high school English Tutoring.


English tutoring sees me flex skills in patience, in creating an encouraging learning environment and also in going back to basics with grammar, essay writing, writing persuasively (which a lot of copy writing is) and in supporting general comprehension skills. All of this helps me stop and think about the perspective of a uni student or a Monk script client. Tutoring really helps me detach from my own understanding and places me in the shoes of the learner.


I love it when students ask how to spell something….

How do you spell, “Dowdy? And what does it even mean, anyway?”

This question allows me to answer like my Dad used to, “Use the dictionary!” Now, I’m a bit softer than my Dad because I do offer the first two letters and also my Dictionary app. Tutoring gets me looking at the Dictionary every week and I love that.


It encourages me to vicariously read some fabulous texts that I would otherwise not take myself through

I have “read” Hamlet and Othello, The Assault, Dirt Music and many more texts. I wouldn’t bother reading these texts in my own time, and man, some of them are great. I’d miss out if I weren’t High School English Tutoring!


Varied assessments and texts mean I’m reconnecting with various big life themes, some which have enriched my thinking, writing and the way I live.

Here are some of the themes I have helped students explore in the texts prescribed:


  • War
  • Loss
  • Futility
  • Change
  • Romance
  • Tragedy
  • Death
  • Gender issues
  • Politics
  • Racial discrimination


Exploring themes are excellent ways to get a handle on a text and also, more importantly, on life matters. I suppose watching certain television shows and films does this too but English at high school coerces you to examine them in detail, and to also examine how they are expressed. TV and film watching allows the themes to wash over you but studying texts asks you to critically think about them and perhaps integrate those learnings into your own life.


I’ve rediscovered a love for poetry analysis.

Yes oh yes! Poetry techniques! I love finding them, I love thinking about what they mean and what the poet is getting at and I love figuring that out with someone else. But, students HATE poetry. Why? It’s funny, but I think it might be that it’s in English but it doesn’t quite make sense. You have to wrangle with it. You have to sit with it.


When a tutoring student starts to see alliteration, assonance or a metaphor straight up – awesome! When they’re not so grumbly when they have yet “another old boring poet” to look at – winning!


In tutoring for the last few years I have read Robert Frost, Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Judith Wright and Maya Angelou – to mention a few poets. What’s my favourite? Can’t pick one. Here’s a small selection:


The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost – Classic!

After Apple Picking – Robert Frost – Synesthesia of apple orchards and picking season

Seamus Heaney – Waterfall – Ahhhh the rich description.

Seamus Heaney – Digging – A beautiful connection of poetry to labour work of ancestors.

Judith Wright – Magpies – Can you see little gentleman in these bird creatures?

Charles Cook – Crimson Serpent – Snake-like fire is unpredictable


Young people are freaking great…

I love my tutoring students. They are so full of spunk and attitude sometimes yet that’s part of the fun of teaching them. I have worked with students with learning difficulties and also with those who are just plain lazy, but scratch beneath the surface and they all have their opinions on life and some very astute observations. They’ve all taught me something. With my limited sample, I have no doubt our future is in good hands.


There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a student love a text or seeing them reach an “A-ha” moment when they have figured out the essay writing palaver. When they no longer see English as a threat to their wellbeing I am happy. If they happen to see how it will help them in other areas of life, then holy-moley, I am near complete.


Lovely families who care about their child’s education and wellbeing…

Being invited into someone’s home is always an honour and I feel it is a special thing to cross the threshold each week of term. When a parent cares about their child enough to make the time to accommodate me into their busy schedule and to pay for me to be there, for their child, that’s a lovely thing. Not all parents in this scenario are shallow and just want their child to pass no matter what (as a guy at the pub once suggested to me); I’ve seen parents care for their child’s dreams to become civil engineers and film directors to actually happen and this is why they ask for English help – because they want to see their children happy. It’s so nice to witness and I feel honoured to be party to it.


Yep, so, I might be a bit of a nerd when it comes to English and yep, I might be wanting to relive some less than exciting aspects of my adolescence…but that’s me. I love High school English and I love English tutoring. 🙂

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