No one who has ever made test prep a big part of his/her life “went to college” for it. There is no “test prep” major. Test prep is the art and science of understanding a test inside and out and being able to successfully communicate those ins and outs to students of every level.
The first place we reach out to recruit the best tutors for our company is among our existing tutors. We’ve found that our teachers (unsurprisingly) know other great people like themselves and refer them to us. Of course a referral bonus doesn’t hurt!
We also reach out via social media – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and also via Craigslist, from which we found our first hire in Kansas City, Gina Claypool.
We then have an initial interview. Part of it is perfectly conventional; part of it is more unique. First, we sit down with each candidate and discuss GSP and answer questions. Next, we have an audition in which the candidates are required to teach us something in which they consider themselves to be experts. I still remember my first interview at a firm over a decade ago now. One of my colleagues presented “how to talk like a valley girl” complete with etymology and phonetic guides. Over the years we’ve been taught how to be a true Wisconsin Cheesehead, how to put up a fence, how to dress for success, and many other varied topics! We do this because we love to have fun but also because we want to see how the candidates teach something in an interesting and engaging way.
After this initial screening, applicants are tested in both the ACT and the SAT. Each of our tutors works on both tests with students at all score levels, so we have high score expectations! We make some allowance for skill lost through lack of practice (we doubt you have used the formula for volume of a right cylinder at work recently), but we do expect a minimum score to start training and a higher score to successfully complete training.
After these and other screening requirements, our teachers complete over 25 hours of training for the ACT, followed by over 15 hours of training for the SAT. We strongly believe that our teachers must be excellent in every subject and extremely competent in both tests. No matter what our tutors professions are in “real” life (and we have and have had lawyers, engineers, biophysicists, MBAs, professional teachers, and many more) we only want the best and most talented in teaching these exams in front of our students. Previous success in other areas is no guarantee for success in test prep, and throughout the training process we use various methods to make sure that we are hiring the best test prep tutors.
During training the candidates are taught all of our methods and are asked to “teach back” in small segments what they have been taught by our tutors. We normally see some attrition during this stage of training, either through self-selection or through culling based on trainers’ judgments. We have all of our tutors help with training not just to spread out the work, but also to allow the trainees to see different styles, methods, and indeed, jokes.
After final Teachbacks, in which the candidates are asked to teach back long segments, they are tested again on the SAT and ACT. Despite near perfect scores in the initial screening, scores often increase on the final test, further driving home the belief in these trainees that our methods work.
Finally, the management team, in consultation with the trainers, makes offers to candidates to start as a Classroom Instructor. These teachers start out teaching classroom courses. As soon as that instructor is requested by name for private tutoring, he/she gets promoted to Standard Tutor. Standard Tutors continue to teach courses but also teach private tutoring. Promotions to Master Tutor and Premier Tutor come with consistently high score increases and consistent requests from parents. Our Premier Tutors have made test prep an important part of their lives and quite rightfully are the very best in the city at what they do.
Now you know more about the GSP Teacher Training process and what makes our teachers the best at what they do! If you are interested in applying to work for us, please visit our Jobs page.
Stephen Heiner is a Tutor at Get Smarter Prep.