Frequently Asked Questions – Active Tutors
LVCC students are required to attend an orientation session prior to becoming a client and being assigned a tutor. During that orientation students are told what their responsibilities are and what is expected of them. Among them are being on time, informing their tutor if they can not attend a session, and keeping the tutor informed of how to contact them. Set ground rules early on in your tutoring, including telling your student what you expect as far as timeliness and attendance. Perhaps make it the student’s responsibility to call you the night before tutoring sessions to confirm your appointment or to let you know they can not attend. Be firm yet fair and understanding of their situation, too.
If your student has a chronic tardiness or absentee issue, the first step is to talk to them about it to find out what the problem is and to discuss potential solutions. Perhaps their personal schedule, work hours, or family situation have changed and your tutor times are now inconvenient; a simple change of day, hour, or location of the tutoring may be in order. Or perhaps they are having difficulty with the pace, subject matter, teaching materials being used, or focus of the tutoring. Reviewing their goals and objectives and revising your tutoring materials and methods may be in order. Whatever the issue, try to openly discuss it with them and listen to their concerns. Some times they are shy and reluctant to share their feelings, so be patient.
However, if the problem is the student’s lack of interest or commitment, or failure to accept their responsibilities as a student, then other action may be needed. Inform the LVCC office of your situation and the student’s behavior. The office staff may be able to intervene and intercede with the student or determine that the student no longer wishes to participate in the program. There are other students waiting for tutors and the staff can try to match you with someone else.
I've been working with my student for some time and he/she seems to be making progress, but how do I tell? What can I do to determine if he/she is learning anything?
Often that is an objective assessment on your part. You have the best “feel” for what your student’s level was when you began your association and can best judge if progress is being made. Since the fall of 2006, new students have been given a “placement tool” during their orientation to assess the level of their English skills as they enter the program. You should have been given that information when your student was assigned. Giving that assessment tool 6 months to a year after the start of tutoring may be a way to determine if their skills have improved. (Those placement tool tests are available at the LVCC office and you received a copy during your tutor training.) Students assigned prior to the fall of 2006 may or may not have been given that test. You can ask the LVCC staff to check if your student had prior testing. There are various tests that can be given, but often students are intimidated by examinations or tests, so caution should be used if you administer them. Some of these assessment tools can be found on web sites that were included in the tutor workshop notebook you received during your training. Again, you as the tutor are probably the best barometer of your student’s progress, but try to be objective in your assessment. Also, ask your student if he or she believes they are making progress. They should have an input as well.
I'm looking for new ideas about how to proceed with my student. I've followed what I learned during my training and have improvised a bit on my own, but I need some new ideas. What should I do?
LVCC periodically holds tutor roundtables where tutors exchange ideas, experiences, techniques, and recommendations about how to help our students improve their English skills. This is a wonderful resource for those looking to enhance their tutoring repertoire or to share with their fellow tutors. These roundtables may be what you need to give you new perspectives and ideas on how to better help your student. Check out our website for roundtable dates and times and plan to attend; we will also keep you informed through emails and mailings. Also, try contacting other tutors you may know, as well as the mentor you were assigned after your tutor training, and ask them for advice. Otherwise, be inventive, imaginative, and flexible in your tutoring methods and approach, and seek your student’s input.
Periodically I receive a form from LVCC asking me to provide an accounting of the hours I've spent on preparation for tutoring and actual tutoring. Why am I asked to provide this information?
Collecting this information is vitally important to LVCC in several ways and we consider it a tutor’s responsibility to provide the requested information. Primarily, it is an invaluable source of statistical information that LVCC uses when applying for financial aid or gifts from major donors. Many of these philanthropic donors require information about our efforts to achieve our goals and objectives. One of the key ways to demonstrate LVCC’s commitment and sincerity is how much time our tutors and volunteers give to the organization in order to fulfill our mission. Only you can provide the information of your personal effort. Also, LVCC is an affiliate of Pro-Literacy America. In order to maintain our association with this national and international organization and obtain the benefits that this relationship provides, we must annually submit a comprehensive report, a large segment of which concerns our tutoring efforts. Your input is critical to this. Finally, LVCC can not succeed without you and we want to recognize your contribution. Letting us know the time you spend helping our students will help us recognize your personal, individual contribution.
My student seems to have peaked as far as achieving his/her goals and objectives or we seem to be making little or no additional progress. Is it time to end our tutoring relationship or should I push for more challenging goals?
Remember, your primary focus should be to meet your student’s objectives. If you have met them and you and your student are happy with the results, then it is probably time to part ways. Discuss this with the student and get their input, and if he or she is satisfied with their results, then it is probably time to end the tutoring sessions. Some students have very specific goals and determining when they have been reached is rather simple. Others are more general and are more difficult to assess completion. Determining when to call it quits should be a mutual decision, so frequently ask your student his/her opinion on how things are progressing. Reaffirm or redefine their goals and see if they want to do something else. If their desires are met, then you have been successful. Ultimately there is a time to end the tutoring experience, so don’t be reluctant to do so. If you wish to continue to be a tutor, we can find you a new student.
My student and I don't seem to be compatible and are making little or no progress. How should I proceed?
Not every match between tutor and student works. It is no reflection on you or the student. However, if it isn’t working out then it is best to recognize it as early as possible and rectify the situation. Ideally, you and your student should discuss the problem openly and honestly as soon as it is recognized to identify potential remedies. If resolution appears unlikely, let the LVCC office staff know about your situation and ask that your pairing be dissolved. Hopefully both you and your student can be matched with more compatible partners. Trying to salvage a bad match-up, however, is not likely to reach a successful conclusion, so be honest and look for what’s best for both of you.
My student and I have developed a close relationship and work very well together. I have gotten to know his/her family and he/she often asks my advice about issues affecting his/her life. How involved should I get in my student's personal life?
That is totally up to you and your student. It is very easy to become personally involved with your student and it is common that once a certain amount of trust is established between tutor and student they may ask your advice or input on a wide variety of issues. How far you go is up to you. Caution is recommended, but only you can judge the pitfalls. LVCC’s interest is in helping the student improve his/her skills with English. The depth of the relationship between you and your student is your responsibility.
While I thought tutoring with LVCC would be something I would enjoy, I find I'm not having as positive an experience as I hoped. What do you recommend?
You have to be honest with yourself and determine if continuing with your tutoring responsibilities is in both your and your student’s best interests. Sometimes what seems like a good idea just doesn’t turn out that way. This type of tutoring is not for everyone, no matter the good intentions and the skills or experience you bring to it. You need to think about yourself and your student. If it isn’t working for you, you’re not helping yourself or your student. Recognizing a mistake is better than prolonging it. Perhaps the chemistry between you and your student isn’t working or this just isn’t what you want to do. Discuss your feelings and concerns with your student honestly and openly. If you determine that you want to terminate your tutoring, please inform the LVCC office. The student may wish to continue with another tutor and we will attempt to pair him/her with someone else. If you just need some time to recharge and refresh, we can put you into an “on-hold” status and pair you with another student when you are ready to resume tutoring. The decision is totally up to you.