An Interview with Brookland Middle School's Peer Tutoring Program Coordinator

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The Peer Tutoring Resource Center wishes to thank Robin Woodfolk for taking time to share inspiration from her peer tutoring program at Brookland Middle School, VA.


Introduction

My name is Robin Woodfolk and I am the Homework Club and Peer Tutoring Program Coordinator here at Brookland Middle School. The peer tutors work exclusively with the homework club, and serve as tutors for that program and its participants. The homework club runs twice a week on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 3:30pm-4:45pm. Peer tutors have to commit to attending monthly "check-in" meetings with me and a mandatory training session scheduled at the beginning of the school year (typically in early October). Peer tutors have the option of tutoring any subject in which they feel they are strongest, and can tutor either once or twice a week. Tutors who can commit to attending at least six sessions a month, are invited to attend a special celebration at the end of that month.

Purpose of Peer Tutoring Program

The peer tutoring program is designed to bridge the educational and social gaps that exist at our school. It gives students the opportunity to work with and get to know students with whom they may not have a chance to interact with otherwise. For example, an outgoing athlete may end up being paired with a shy 6th grader who is struggling to fit in. The athlete benefits because they get to help someone out and share their academic expertise, and the 6th grader gets to interact and meet with a more popular upperclassman. These opportunities to intermingle can be very effective and go a long ways towards boosting self esteem and confidence for both the peer tutor and the tutee.

The Peer Tutors

Our peer mentors consist of the top performing 7th and 8th graders. They are chosen through a combination of citizenship, weighted GPA, and teacher recommendations. The majority of our peer tutors are very involved in the school community as a whole and members of the Beta Club. Peer tutors have to attend a mandatory training session in October. This training is considered an "immersion" training. The tutors get the opportunity to learn about who they will be working with, how to tutor effectively, dealing with negative behaviors and helping to keep the tutees motivated. Peer Tutors are matched with 2-3 students who need help in a particular subject. We typically have 15-20 tutors per session and each is paired with those who need assistance. Tutors are required to document their tutoring session with the tutee. They are to document the assignment, the teacher, areas of strength/weakness, and the end result of the tutoring session. Tutors are to reiterate the material presented in the session to check for accuracy and mastery. Tutors also work with the same group of students until mastery has been achieved.

Evaluating the Peer Tutoring Program

Our peer tutors fill out a survey at the end of each session and during our monthly celebratory event. Tutors and tutees have been able to gain more confidence in their academic abilities, learn more about themselves as students, and make new friends!

Overcoming the Challenge of Tutee Absenteeism

Tutors can help encourage tutees through positive reinforcement strategies, and this has been proven to be most effective. If this does not help, then I get involved and incorporate parent and teacher support. Tutees are referred to the program, so if they are there then they need to be there.

Message to K-12 Educators Considering Incorporating Peer Tutoring Strategies

Do it! At first I was reluctant about trying to implement both a homework club and a peer tutoring program, but once I got all of the logistics in order everything came together! Having a responsible and reliable group of peer tutors is also essential to the programs success. Once my tutors were trained, they were able to run almost everything themselves.




Robin Woodfolk. Coordinator of Peer Tutoring Program and Homework Club at Brookland Middle School, VA

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