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This Educator Tutored Chinese Students Remotely From Her Basement. Then It Abruptly Ended.

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For years Lexi Henegar has been tutoring children in China. She’s never met any of them in person, but you wouldn’t know that from hearing her talk about it.

“I’ve taught on the sidewalk in Beijing. I’ve taught on the back of a motorbike where the student was just riding behind the mom and taking class from their little scooter. I’ve taught in lots of restaurants and shopping malls in China.”

All those tutoring moments she’s describing have taken place online, via videoconference platforms. Students tuned in on iPads or laptops from thousands of miles away, in China, while Henegar taught from her home in Indiana, in a basement closet she refurbished for the task.

Lexi Henegar
Lexi Henegar tutored Chinese students online for four years from her home in Indiana.

“So I just put my computer and all of my props around my desk. And then I hung some curtains and twinkle lights and made it into just this little classroom space,” she says.

The twinkle lights were meant to evoke a sense of playful magic, and it all kind of did seem like magic—until recently, anyway.

This summer, Henegar and tens of thousands of other tutors across the U.S. started to get word that this fortuitous arrangement they’d stumbled into might soon come to an end.

In fact, many of these Chinese tutoring companies have drastically scaled back their online operations because of new regulations from the Chinese government that effectively ban private tutoring with foreign educators. Some companies shut down abruptly. Others are slowly winding down. But in every case, American educators involved are scrambling to figure out what’s next.

On today’s podcast, we dig into this drama playing out in the online tutoring market, including the huge repercussions it’s having on many educators in the U.S.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Play Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts, or use the player on this page.

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