The life of an online tutor can be like that of an assembly line worker


Leo Salvatore is one of 3,000 online tutors from Paper, whose business has exploded with the pandemic. (Screenshot from Zoom interview with Jill Barshay from the Hechinger Report.)

Leo Salvatore graduated from university in May 2022 and dreams of becoming a philosopher. As he applies for graduate school, the affable 23-year-old takes on a part-time job that barely existed before the pandemic: online tutoring. From his home in Baltimore, Maryland, Salvatore logs on to one of his four-hour shifts three times a week and earns $20.25 an hour. Often he has two or three students from different classes discussing different assignments with him simultaneously. It could be a fourth grader in Los Angeles struggling with English, an eighth grader in Palm Beach, Florida asking questions about history, and a 10th grader in Las Vegas who needs help with French verb conjugation.

“It can be overwhelming,” Salvatore said in an interview, describing his life as an online tutor in the time of coronavirus.

On a few occasions, Salvatore recalls, he taught up to seven students at a time. Keeping track of student questions and chatting with them in real time can feel like a short-lived cook during the breakfast rush rather than an educator. At least his commute is excellent.

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