Origin Story – How I Became A Community Builder

Sometime in 2016, I was at one of the private condos in Thomson to tutor a student. He was late, so I had some time to kill. I was bored. Day-in, day-out, I was going from home to home to give home tuition. I knew in my heart that I wanted to do more but did not know where to find opportunities.

Having spent a few years in BNI, I knew that networking was the key to finding opportunities. However, most BNI chapters back then did not have many members in the private education arena. I met a few owners of big tuition chains there, but I did not know how to network at their level. We talked about different things. They wanted to network with vendors and solution providers, not tutors. I wanted to connect with tutors like myself to talk about how to teach better and how to improve the way we run our tutoring practice.

I could not find any networking platform which was similar to BNI but dedicated to educators. So I thought, why not start organizing one? That would be fun. I could put my BNI training to good use too.

So I found a platform called Meetup. I came up with a catchy name – Passionate Educators, and a simple introduction. To my surprise, the membership grew quite fast. We had out first meetup in Hougang Mall, and about twenty educators turned up. Most were private tutors, a few were enrichment course trainers, a few were in EduTech.

I was amazed at how much we had to share. Although we had only met for the first time, it was as if we were old friends coming together for a reunion. The meeting started at 10am, and the conversation just keep going on and on. As far as I remember, we ended officially about three hours later, and some attendees still joined one another for lunch and carried on their fellowship.

I met Chiew, the founder of ClassDo there. He attended the meetup to speak to tutors, as he was developing his online tutoring software. Back then in 2016, online tutoring was more like science fiction than reality. I remember that one other participants was in Edu Tech as well, and he confidently predicted that online tutoring would never work because of various reasons. Well, I guess we never could tell the future.

It was through a friendship with Chiew that I became one of the pioneers of online tutoring in Singapore. But that is a story for another time.

Passionate Educators had a few more outings, then due to logistics reason and a lack of a long term plan, I stopped organizing tutor outings under that banner. But my keen interest in bringing educators together kept burning. I went on to organize free training workshops to train tutors to go online using ClassDo.com. About 150 educators attended our online and in-person workshops. Many friendships started from there.

One thing led to another. Later on, with a few educators I knew from the workshops, we founded a curated group called Tutors Assemble!. Still later, a few of us from that group started an online community called Community of Tutors (https://www.facebook.com/groups/piecommunityoftutors).

And that is where you are now. Quite a journey, eh?

It is amazing to me, how a simple idea grew into something much bigger.

Keep dreaming and experimenting. Who knows what your next idea might become?

With love and respect,

Jason Lee


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