This is a follow-up post on the peer tutoring program of Pioneer Valley High School, which was recently featured on this blog. In the article below, program coordinator, Heidi Leal shares what has been done to keep their peer tutoring program running during mandatory school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 20th commenced our first week of tutors offering tutoring through video conferences. We and the tutors had to learn a lot within a short period of time. We put this all together within a matter of a week. First of all, my district is very fortunate to have a full time Technology teacher on “special assignment” who helped us determine the best online platform to use for video conferencing. We had thought of using Zoom but became aware of its privacy issues. Nonetheless, every district and school will have to determine what online video conferencing platform they want to use.
We contacted the tutors and proposed the idea of video conference tutoring sessions. We had a good response with nine out of fourteen tutors agreeing to work via video conferencing.
Next, we held a video conference with the tutors to discuss how the policies and procedures we had in place prior to school closure would adjust or remain now that tutoring was going to be offered in online format. We also scheduled time for tutors to practice hosting and being participants in video conferences to help them better assist their tutees through their first session.
Here is the plan we came up with:
One downside we came across was that the video conferencing platform did not have a tool that would make it easy for drop-in tutoring. Also, internet connection was a challenge since it wasn’t always stable either on the tutors' or the tutees' side but they did their best.
We had planned to have a training session with the Tech teacher shortly after online tutoring began to address any questions or concerns that the tutors could have had and to show tutors what tools were available to use but the tutors had already become quite savvy and were discovering these tools on their own. Overall, it has been a good experience.