By Amanda Woodle, 2019-2020 Literacy First Tutor
Navigating the world of virtual tutoring has been an exciting, and sometimes challenging, adventure. Of course, this new territory comes with obstacles like poor internet connections or barking dogs in the background, but it also has allowed for some really fun and heartwarming interactions with my students.
One of my students has a pillow fort set up in his living room. At the start of each lesson, I say hello to his mom, and then he takes his tablet into the fort to begin reading. He lifts the blanket to open the front of the fort and yells “the doors of wisdom are open!” It makes us both laugh every time, and it’s the perfect way for us to get started with our lesson. We then read our “Ready to Zoom” chart, making sure our bodies and brains are ready for learning, and then we’re off! Our digital reading adventure begins, while my student is happy and healthy in his at home pillow fort.
In addition to creating fun new traditions with students, it has been so rewarding being able to share my students’ progress with their parents at the end of every lesson. Connecting with parents has really reaffirmed that I am doing something meaningful. The parents are always so excited and grateful to hear when their child improved in their reading that day, and one mom even told me she was excited to learn how to reinforce good, fluent reading with her child.
While it can be slightly distracting to hear “I’m floating in space!” when a student discovers Zoom backgrounds, it’s also a sure way to bring a smile to your face. And while it’s challenging to not be in a classroom with students, it is so rewarding to meet their families and catch a different glimpse into their lives. For example, one of my students was so excited to introduce me to his dad when he came home during a lesson, and another student’s parents have been eager to learn more about the reading interventions we implement.
Of course, virtual learning comes with its struggles, but it’s also uniquely rewarding and meaningful in a whole new way. Things feel pretty scary in the world right now, especially for a lot of our students. All throughout quarantine I have heard people saying we need to do what we can to have a sense of normalcy, and virtual tutoring is an amazing and safe way to feel like things are going to be okay. A reminder that I love what I do, I’m glad to work with kids, and I’m proud to be an AmeriCorps member.