Here are the top 5 things Teachers on Call has learned, from teachers, tutors, and students about the advantages of online tutoring in this new world.
The pandemic has changed so much for all of us. It has changed the way we learn, the way we gather, the way we play. But for all the losses and sacrifices, it has also forced us to be creative and to look for opportunities in places we otherwise wouldn’t have found them. In particular, it gives us as teachers and tutors a whole new perspective on the value of online tutoring. Here are the top 5 things Teachers on Call has learned, from teachers, tutors, and students about the advantages of online tutoring in this new world.
1) You Can Build Connections
A lot of parents are concerned that with online tutoring, you are missing out on those positive human connections you might get from in person tutoring. It’s true that Zoom is not necessarily the same as having that person in your house, but it’s still a pretty amazing tool that with the right tutor and the right fit for the student, can allow a really positive tutor-student relationship. With virtual day school classes, students have to listen to a teacher and share that teacher’s attention with numerous other students. They have to follow the class plan. But with a tutor-student personalized online session, the student gets to ask the questions, and even determine the lesson structure and topic. That’s the advantage of individualized learning. One on one is so beneficial, no matter the format.
2) It allows kids to talk and take risks in ways they can’t during regular school or distance learning
As you know, the tutors at Teachers on Call are also teachers. In our classrooms, we work to make learning sessions engaging and interactive. There are many great options out there for our classes: interactive online field trips, guest speakers, games, and cool online video tools like Flipgrid. And yet, when we surveyed some of our students this past semester to ask them what learning activities they liked the best during online learning, an overwhelming majority said they liked the week where their teachers dedicated sessions to one-on-one tutorial times. What this tells us is that no matter what there’s no better learning experience than one-on-one interaction between student and tutor. That’s why online tutoring works so well. We can learn by reading, listening, and writing, but many of us really learn best when we can talk about our ideas and get immediate feedback. That’s what online tutoring can give you.
3) Distance Learning has Exploded the Possibility and Access to Online Learning Tools
Do you remember when the word Zoom just had to do with that “Going to the Moon” song and not the way we had family dinners and playdates? We do! But for all the incursion into our lives that 2020 has allowed technology to bring, it's also opened up a myriad of free online learning tools. And that’s made our jobs as tutors, both online and in person, way more creative. There are online whiteboards, there’s the ability to edit documents simultaneously with my students, there’s quick sharing of resources in chats. It’s made learning a really interactive experience. For instance, in an online English tutoring session, let’s say we’re working on an English class research presentation. A student and tutor can look at a research database together and annotate (take notes) on the same article, talk about how to source properly, and then work simultaneously on a digital whiteboard that can be saved and then easily transferred into a slide presentation. That’s a lot of learning, both of the English skills, as well as organizing ideas, and understanding where and how to find sources. Online tutoring can definitely be interactive and engaging and there’s a lot of new tools to explore that can benefit students in any course.
4) Digital Literacy is a Skill that needs to be Taught, Learned and Practiced
Technology is not going away. And although students use a lot of technology, this new generation hasn’t learned all the critical thinking skills and is not as concerned about privacy as their parents or teachers. Digital literacy needs to be taught and practiced, just like any other kind of literacy. The advantage that students who do online tutoring have is that they get to learn and practice these digital skills safely and with some guidance. For instance, when a student is working on that same English presentation we talked about above, the student might have their ideas ready, but the tutor could show them how to add videos the Google Slides, pre clip the videos, find openly sourced images, reference properly, and practice the presentation with a neutral encouraging audience. Although tutors are there to help with the curriculum, when the tutoring occurs online, tutors can also help students practice valuable cross-curricular skills that they can take into future classes and projects, and into future workplaces too.
5) Online Tutoring makes Learning Positive and Turns Struggles into Opportunities
In education, a big concept right now is the Growth Mindset. Growth Mindset has to do with encouraging positive attitudes toward learning and making mistakes, and being able to identify the ways we need to learn. The best way for a student to learn these skills is one-on- one. Most teachers work to create a safe, open environment in classes, whether in person or online. But as adults we know some of us are extroverts, some of us are introverts, and many of us are a mix in between. And so are students. No matter how warm and encouraging the teacher, there will always be students who are too shy or scared to share an answer or make a mistake in class, and there will always be students who need more processing time than something like a common class block allows. But students learn best by talking and doing, so if they can’t do that comfortably or frequently in class, online tutoring is a great place to do it! When you take away the classroom environment and the peers and the pressure, often the ideas flow a lot faster. They also know that, as their online tutor, we are not there to mark or assess them, just to guide them. And that’s how many of us learn best. In tutoring, students also know that if they make a mistake or go off topic, that’s ok because it often leads to something else. That’s Growth Mindset. One-on-one learning is beneficial, then, not just for that one assignment or problem they are working on, but also for understanding their own learning and feeling confident in their ideas.
We love online tutoring, as teachers and tutors, and we also love it as an opportunity for our students. We hope this post has shown some of the advantages available to you, and how you too might love the online tutoring experience!
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