There’s no magic formula for being a tutor. There’s no special training or education degree needed. All it takes is a willingness to help a student learn.
Each tutor spends 90 minutes one evening a week helping one student on a one-to-one basis from late September through mid-May. Learning becomes easier as tutors and students get to know each other better. When is your student’s birthday? Who’s in his family? Does she have any pets? What’s his favorite — or least favorite — school subject? What’s her favorite sports team? Is he involved in any school activities? Tutors can share this same kind of information about themselves. These are all ways to break the ice.
Cluster Tutoring stresses literacy, so tutor-student pairs will spend time each week on reading, especially for younger students. That includes reading fiction and school textbooks, building vocabulary, and writing. Reading specialists on both evenings will evaluate reading levels of younger students and offer extra help to struggling readers. Librarians can offer recommendations from the many books and other educational materials in our well-stocked libraries.
Worried about how to approach math? You’re not alone. Cluster has math coaches at both locations for students unsure of math homework and tutors who might have been away from math class for many years. Our “Just the Facts” math program for students up to grade 5 is based on the Chicago Public Schools’ Common Core math curriculum. It was written by two Cluster volunteer math experts who developed math curriculum for elementary grades at the professional level, and all tutor-student pairs can access these materials.
Most students are likely to have some homework, especially those in higher grades. Tutors of high school students will spend most of their tutoring time helping with homework. But tutors always should be prepared with a lesson or worksheet in case a student has no assignments or forgets books at home.
Occasionally a tutoring evening can turn frustrating. Maybe a student is tired or hungry, and just doesn’t feel like working. Tutoring also can be a time to talk, if a student wants to open up about any issues. Or students may just need some fun time, so tutors and students can play a game in the final 15 minutes of tutoring.
Tutoring is fun for tutors as well as students. Tutors and students often develop a special bond that can last years, even after students graduate. And tutors develop friendships with each other: Look how much fun we had at a special end-of-year tutoring dinner.