Amateur and Professional Educators

One aspect of tutoring or test preparation that attracts aspiring educators is the tremendously low barrier to entry. Answer an ad for subject or test help and suddenly you’ve become a paid tutor. No wonder so many competitors battle for students in every market.

However, if you are a true professional, you belong in a different class than the dilettantes and day-jobbers that populate the tutoring lists. How do you tell the difference? Deep thinker Shane Parrish has some deep thoughts on The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals:

Amateurs stop when they achieve something.
Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning.

Amateurs have a goal.
Professionals have a process.

Amateurs value isolated performance. Think about the receiver who catches the ball once on a difficult throw.
Professionals value consistency. Can I catch the ball in the same situation 9 times out of 10?

Amateurs give up at the first sign of trouble and assume they’re failures.
Professionals see failure as part of the path to growth and mastery.

Amateurs focus on being right.
Professionals focus on getting the best outcome.

Amateurs think good outcomes are the result of their brilliance.
Professionals understand when outcomes are the result of luck.

Parrish shares other differentiators as well, but I’ll rephrase the one that resonates most:

Amateurs show up sometimes.
Professionals show up every day.

Your ability and experience strongly influence your effectiveness as an educator, but neither trait is enough to make you a true professional. Amateurs think being good is, in itself, the ultimate qualification, while professionals strive to always get better. You have to show up every single day with a commitment to improve your craft. Getting paid to teach isn’t what defines a professional in my book. I’m judged by my body of work and my ability to transfer the lessons of prior success to future student outcomes. You are too.

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