Since October, tutor Mamie Belle has spent her Saturday mornings in FLOC’s math program working with Xochitl, a 3rd grader Mamie describes as a bright student who is a bit behind grade level in math.
“She’s fun to work with, and completely dominates in multiplication tic tac toe,” Belle said. “I think I’ve won maybe 5% of those games.”
Because she strives to be creative throughout the tutoring session to help Xochitl better master a new skill, Mamie makes sure the tutoring session includes a variety of activities. They typically begin the lesson with a game like flashcard war, where the player who draws the card with the higher product of both multiplication problems wins all the cards drawn from both players’ decks. Then, they move onto a review of the material they covered the previous week. After the warm up activity and review, Mamie moves on to teaching a new concept.
Like many FLOC tutors, Mamie focuses on teaching new material by using the math manual as a guide and incorporating games to help reinforce the concepts.
In college, Mamie tutored a high school student in various subjects. One of the difficulties she’s encountered at FLOC is finding “different ways of explaining a process.”
She especially praised the programs at FLOC for two reasons. “The math manuals for the students and the tutor training that FLOC provides help take a lot of the guesswork out of the process.”
“There are always situations that challenge you to come up with creative and fun ways to help the student master a skill,” she added.
Mamie describes her tutoring experience as very rewarding, since she’s had the opportunity to feel connected to the community and give back. “I don’t have the chance to interact with kids during my 9-5, so tutoring through FLOC is a great way to fill that void.”
At FLOC, there have been many good tutor-generated tips for successful tutoring sessions. One specifically helpful tip that tutors have discovered is letting their students occasionally become the tutors! Narissa, a tutor here at FLOC, has found it very useful.
Narissa and her student have been working on fractions for about two weeks. Although Narissa felt her student was getting the concept rather quickly, she wanted to approach the subject in a new way. She asked her student to take on the role of the tutor. Instead of Narissa explaining the information again, her student taught Narissa how to reduce fractions.
Narissa found this tip to be helpful for several reasons. Having the student become the tutor allowed her to become more invested in the session, therefore strengthening the relationship between Narissa and her student. Second, this strategy became a great tool for assessment. Narissa was truly able to tell whether or not her student understood fractions – and indeed she did!
Narissa experienced a very successful session by using this tip. She was able to create a stronger bond with her student, help her student feel more invested in the session, and assess her student’s progress on fractions all at the same time. Overall, switching student tutor “roles” was a perfect strategy for Narissa. Try this cool tip out with your student, and it may work great for you too!
(Lindsay Davis is an NTP Site Coordinator for the Thursday Night math Program.)
The 11th grade Scholars
As March begins there is an inherent “madness” in the air. While most might be focused on college hoops, at FLOC, our juniors and seniors become more focused on college.
During a combined program, 11th graders asked 12th grade students to provide them with wisdom on the college process for the coming year. Topics ranged from application-based questions to balancing a social life and academics and even the importance of community service.
In general, the seniors seemed to point out the importance of applying early and to a number of institutions to give oneself a better chance of being accepted, and to avoid procrastinating during the coming year. Senior Calvin C. told the 11th graders to “talk to FLOC. They know what they’re doing and have helped me out a lot.”
“It was fun,” Elijah N., a junior, pointed out after the program. “I learned a thing or two.”
FLOC’s focus on preparing the 11th graders for their next academic transition includes ACT/SAT prep as well as having students learn about schools that interest them. Seniors have been in the process of developing skills and study habits that will help them next year in their post-secondary pursuits.
The 11th grade Scholars goof around.
(Alex Stucky is a Scholars Program Instructor for grades 8 and 11.)
Andrew Lautz is a GW tutor in the Ross Elementary and both Saturday tutoring programs.
(This story first appeared in the George Washington University DC Reads Newsletter.)
I’ve had the great opportunity to tutor with the For Love of Children (FLOC) program since September and it’s been both an interesting and unique experience to say the least. The first thing I noticed at FLOC was the incredible level of positive energy in the building; this energy exists in the tutors, the students, and the staff. I questioned my own ability to hit the ground running at the program just based on watching already trained tutors work with their student for two hours without skipping a beat in energy level. But what I discovered quickly was that the energy is infectious.
The satisfaction that a tutor can get from seeing a student fully comprehend what they teach them is really what drives this energy. This can be said anywhere, but at FLOC it certainly helps to have a well-trained and equally energetic staff along with a wealth of resources that keep each tutoring session interesting. The students and their tutors work in one of two large and spacious rooms. My first reaction to this spacing was skeptical; I wondered whether or not my student and I would be able to concentrate through what I thought would be chaos. However, the sense of hustle creates a sense of community; groups feed off of each other’s energy and share ideas and games. It’s far better than being isolated in a quiet classroom.
Personally, tutoring has been an amazing experience to offer what resources I do have as a college student to those who may otherwise not have the opportunity: the much aforementioned energy and an understanding of what makes these younger students tick. After all, many of us at GW were there not too long ago. Growing up in a middle-class, rural New England town allowed me to work one-on-one with my teachers which developed my learning quicker than I could have developed it on my own. I want to be able to provide that kind of learning to students who come to FLOC behind in reading or math. Many of them attend urban schools that are low on resources and high in student population. If I can give a student two hours a week to learn using methods and games that they can relate to, I hope that I can make them accelerate their learning to get them caught up to their classmates and beyond.
Any tutoring is great for the DC community, but I’m more than glad I’ve been tutoring at FLOC this year; the program meshes the structure needed to guide the tutor in their lessons but the flexibility needed to personalize the lesson for their student. The staff has been helpful each and every week and the students are engaged and interested. I can just hope that the students my classmates and I have taught have gotten as beneficial an experience as I’ve received from FLOC.