The trailblazing tutor transforming kids’ learning beyond the ABC

When school principal Rochelle Callard moved from the Granite Belt west of Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast, she knew she wanted a new challenge. Her passion for teaching hadn’t waned, but she needed a fresh way to bring learning to life for kids who may be lost in the system. We were delighted to grab a coffee with this trailblazing mum to discover how an innovative tutoring approach has since changed her life and those of countless families on the Coast.

What path led you to open your own tutoring centre?

In June 2018, my brother came to visit me with his children. His daughter had started at NumberWorks’nWords at Clayfield in Brisbane. He just loved the program, and she loved going, and he suggested that it could be something that would suit me.

As well as a background in education, I have run my own businesses before, which I am also very passionate about. It perfectly combines my business skills, education, and teaching.

After doing the due diligence, visiting centres and meeting the NumberWorks’nWords team, I signed the franchise agreement for Sunshine Coast. I spent the rest of 2018 setting up, ready to open NumberWorks’nWords Sippy Downs in 2019.

What drew you to the NumberWorks’nWords program, specifically?

From a teaching perspective, the program itself is fantastic. Part of the stress of teaching and mainstream education is that you’re continually reinventing the wheel and bound by the curriculum. If a child is in the age bracket of Year 3, they do Year 3 work.

At NumberWorks’nWords, every child is on an individual plan, and I can tailor the teaching in maths and English to that student and start them where they’re actually at.
This individualised learning means every student learns, grows their confidence, has those ‘lightbulb’ moments, and all share in the successes.

As a teacher, you want to achieve those outcomes. You’re passionate about helping children; I could see that possibility in this program.

Rochelle Callard at the Entrance to Numberworksn'Words Sippy Downs

Rochelle Callard at Numberworks’nWords Sippy Downs

Why do you think in-person learning works better than online?

Firstly, you can see what a child’s doing! Everybody has a book that they’re writing in. We’re very focused on ensuring that what they put down on paper is what the expectation is in the classroom. So you need to be able to see that, and you need to be able to support them to do that. In their books, we model our expectations so they can use that as a visual.

Secondly, you connect with a child far better face-to-face than over a screen. And thirdly, it’s far more fun! We have lots of ways children can experience success: we have homework heroes, games of the week, prizes, competitions, and certificates. The whole place claps whenever a child achieves a goal. It’s a lovely, nurturing, supportive environment that cannot be recreated online. And that environment makes us different—which is what I love.

How does your tutor-to-student ratio work?

Our tutor-to-student ratio means that a tutor can work with up to three or four students at a time. And this ratio is an integral part of our success. Kids get that connection and in-person guidance. But they also get time to work it out for themselves, which allows for independent thought and builds confidence.

Imagine the computer is like a textbook and the tutor is the teacher. We teach them how to do it, run through a couple of examples, and then they have a go. At this point, the tutor can move away to other students in that row. But we can always look over and see how they are going. The program has a precise tracking system on it, so at any point, the tutor can see if a child has a right or wrong answer and can jump in and help.

When you stand over the top of somebody or sit one-on-one with somebody, all they’re going to do is become more reliant on you. Constantly asking, “Is this right?” The child doesn’t take it on board because they haven’t had to do any thinking. With the NumberWorks’nWords program there is a tutor there who can jump straight in and help them. Also, having someone over your shoulder is quite intimidating!

I don’t believe one-on-one tutoring works for children who haven’t succeeded and need to catch up. They need just the right amount of support and just the right amount of independence.

What feedback do you get?

Oh look, without a word of a lie, I have parents that come up to me every term and say how it’s changed their life, not just their child but their family. It’s just amazing. Once kids have an opportunity to experience success in something that they haven’t experienced success in before, their confidence grows. So it has a much broader reach than just maths and English.

So it’s incredibly rewarding—for the student and the tutors!

Why offer a free assessment?

The free assessment allows me to show parents how we work. There’s no obligation. It’s simply an opportunity for families to come in and see how we work and what we do in action.

Most people think of tutoring as what I call ‘kitchen table tutoring’, and we are very different from that! Every child leaves here excited, they’ve had fun, and they want to come back. Because there’s no other model like us, you really need to experience it for yourself!

What are the tutors like?

We have a very stringent training program when we hire tutors. We put them through about 25 hours of training, and I am always on the floor supporting them during the sessions.
All the tutors are very high academics—training to be doctors, lawyers, or bachelor students in mathematics and quantum engineering. Most importantly, the kids love working with them. The kids don’t want me! They come here; they connect with the tutors.

They’re very dynamic, and they have so much potential. Coaching the tutors is a side role of the service that I love!

What’s next for you?

To continue focusing on giving the best service that we can! We’ll probably reach 400 tutoring sessions weekly this year, as we have fantastic word-of-mouth now. But for me, that’s enough. I want to be here, do a good job, and not stretch myself too far to maintain that high level of service. After all, that was my passion and why I started teaching in the first place.

Click here to book your free assessment now!

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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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