In many alternative education centres in New Zealand tutors are charged with educating students disenfranchised from their mainstream secondary schools. However, these tutors do not hold teaching qualifications. Rather, they draw their pedagogical approaches from life experiences, cultural knowledge, vocational and relational skills, and passion to work with young people. Tutors’ heartfelt ways of engaging with young people has a transformative impact on many of the students’ life-courses. This article poetically represents key approaches central to tutor practice. From observations and research interview transcripts, found poems were created from the everyday language of eight tutors. The poems represent phenomenological insights into tutors’ lived experiences, and reveal that tutors intentionally place students at the centre of their practice. The article positions tutor pedagogy within a social pedagogical field, while also considering social pedagogy as a phenomenological pedagogy that brings us to the very heart of teaching.