Updated: May 26, 2022
How unexpected experiences led to a career:
Michael Sherman has over 30 years of experience providing personalized tutoring. How did this all start?
One day in 1978, Michael was at a fruit stand and a Chinese mother who spoke very little english told him to tutor her son. He started tutoring the boy for $5 and hour and they recommended him to all their friends, and Michael’s tutoring business just grew from there.
When Michael was a grad student, he was simultaneously tutoring and getting almost no sleep. He made the decision to quit grad school and continue to follow the path in tutoring because he loved it so much.
“How do I maximize my life?”
Sometimes, as a tutor, you aren’t the absolute expert in a subject, but you find a way to learn and one of the joys Michael finds in tutoring is getting to learn new things all the time and see how they all connect and integrate.
One unique thing Michael does is keep a collection of cool things he has found throughout his life that are sorted by how they may relate to different topics and subjects and he uses them to engage students and have a good time with them.
Michael’s goal as a tutor is always to make them curious and eager to learn rather than frustrated (he calls it the “hmm to wahh ratio”). And he constantly evaluates the students' engagement so he can find the best tool to engage them further in their own learning.
In terms of growing his business and raising his rates, Michael said it gradually happened over time and he virtually did no marketing, but the best marketing is just making your clients happy so they want to tell everyone else.
Michael has so many thoughts about tutoring students and his life’s work which he is currently in the process of writing about and will be on his website once it is done!
Sean McCormick 0:01 Welcome to the Earn More Tutoring podcast. Here you will hear the real stories of teachers tutors and other educators who took ownership of their time and money. If you want to earn more with your tutoring skills, this is the podcast for you. Today's guest is Michael Sherman, Michael and I had a fantastic conversation about his unorthodox entry into tutoring, the time that he walked into a pool fully clothed in order to stimulate student learning and his homes and wide approach to measuring student progress. Michael has over 30 years of providing personalized tutoring and loving it. Welcome, Michael. Michael Sherman 0:36 All right. Okay, so I'll just start with the most important question, which is the very question you might ask yourself on a given day, which is, how do I maximize my life? What if I really want to get down to it and I know I'm gonna die sooner even not? I really want to make sure to do to cash in on to make real? Because that's the question you asked about the person you engage not only in tutoring nurse teaching your schooling, but in human life and having a relationship in anything. That is the same question and the more deeply and honestly, and and insightfully you can engage that the more you do, quote, unquote, your job in either of those dominions, and so to the legend, task of educating some educating someone or tutoring or helping her eating, is really, if you really get down to with the task of finding who the person is, and helping that person understand this new language or way of seeing whatever the subject is. And that goes for beyond school, it goes relationships, and seeing and commuting, and everything else. But since the topic is tutoring, I'll kind of keep it there and say, I learned early in my time doing this, less often the case of a person not understanding a concept and more often a case of finding how this person thinks, perceives, understands, and helping that person broaden that perspective, that has a more universal application, which is beautiful, but really that does more, it engages the person in how that relates to me. So whatever that person's interest is, or the I try to relate the topic to those, you know, if I'm adding two plus three, to what's three, what's if I know what that person cares about, all of a sudden, I made it interesting, because it's baseball games or dresses or whatever. You know, that's a simple, silly one. But really, it applies to much deeper things in any other subject so that the real task becomes who are you? And how can I help you become who you want to be? The real task for me, in not just tutoring or teaching, but in a human is to more deeply more intimately understand the person, how we're that person seems to want to go, and how can I help that happen? And then as it turns out, you know, we relate that topic that we're having as a bailiwick to that subject, Sean McCormick 3:18 Michael, and thank you for, for sharing that I think you've hit the nail on the head in terms of what is tutoring, you know, it's, it's helping the person actualize and being able to relate to them on their level or on on on what's important to them. And, and, you know, so it's student focus, which is one of the most powerful phrases in education, Michael, how did you gain your first clients, what was the journey to, for you to actualize in start providing, you know, because, as you know, your reputation precedes you, you know, I would not have known about you unless another well established therapy tutor had referenced you and was just in awe of your practice. So tell us about how you got your first client, we'd love to hear about that journey. Michael Sherman 4:04 My first client was a Chinese girl who knew very little English and his mom knew little but I was going to their fruits and, and somehow, she just picked me and said, My son, you teach? And, and I want lady, you know, and somehow she was so insistent and I tried not to take cash and but you want to do and in 1978, you know, well, I remember when she pulled them over, she whacked him on the head. And that's how I began it's sort of like know how most people begin. So I don't know how relevant that is anyone else but then because they were so pleased with what happened. They started telling Friend Friend Friend, and then those people go Friend, friend, friend and all my recommendation. It grew outside that Small Chinese roots down community to all over the place, and just kept growing. And that's how it happened. Word of mouth. I think the key to growing businesses provide, I don't know that it's a I know a you don't teacher student thing, it's a fellow human thing I, I present to the person will learn, perhaps more than you do by our overlap. I'm just sharing who I am. I'm seeing who you are, as best I can. And I will grow by who you are, most certainly a thing that has happened. Sean McCormick 5:38 What an amazing story, Michael...
Check out the full interview below!
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