Manatee Literacy Council FAQs


I’ve never taught before … can I be a good tutor?

You are not expected to have the knowledge and skill of a professional teacher and that is not your role. Your role is to provide your learner with a safe, supportive environment and the guidance in which to practice new skills. Most of our tutors are not teachers, but come to us with diverse back-grounds in fields such as banking, real estate, business, etc. The materials we use have been proven to effectively teach learners how to read, write and communicate. In addition, the training you’ll receive is designed to help you become proficient in a short period of time.

Most learners appreciate the efforts of their tutors and learn well in one-on-one sessions. If your learner drops out, we have almost never found that it was due to deficiencies in the tutor but rather the learner’s personal situation.

How long is the training program?

Each new tutor will attend an orientation plus two training sessions. The orientation is designed to acquaint you with our program and to help you make an informed decision about whether or not you want to tutor. This takes no more than an hour and does not represent any obligation on your part.

The two training sessions are conducted by an experienced tutor trainer and are designed to help you learn and practice the techniques of tutoring. These sessions last approximately four to four-and-a-half hours, at the end of which you will be qualified to tutor at any level.

How long should I plan on tutoring my learner?

Although we don’t ask for a specific length of time, you must understand that tutoring is a long-term commitment. Some learners may not want or need a lot of time to accomplish their goals, while we have had tutors stay with one learner for more than three years. Each case is different. We hope you’ll find the experience so rewarding that you’ll want to stay with it. We have several tutors who have tutored here for more than 10 years.

How often should I tutor?

The ideal tutoring schedule is twice a week for approximately 1-½ hours each. The real world, however, often interferes with this schedule. If you (or your learner) can only meet once a week, sessions should be a minimum of two hours, and you and your learner should be aware that progress will be much slower. If you or your learner needs to take a break for vacations or family needs, try to be creative in ways to maintain progress, such as writing letters or postcards. If you need to take an extended break, please let us know.

Where should I tutor?

We recommend that you tutor in a public place that is staffed such as a library, church, community center or workplace. We provide a list of such places that have been friendly to our cause. We do NOT recommend you meet in either your own home (safety & security) or the home of your learner (safety, security and too many distractions).

When & how am I matched with a learner?

Shortly after the completion of your training, you’ll be contacted with information about a learner we’d like you to consider tutoring. This match will be based primarily on location and schedule—both yours and the learners. You always have the option of deciding not to tutor the recommended learner, and if at any time, you experience a problem of any kind, feel free to contact us to discuss it. We will handle the situation with the learner—you do not have to handle it yourself.

Can I request a learner with certain characteristics?

Tutors sometimes ask to have a learner of a particular age, gender or national origin. We try to meet such requests when possible. We do ask, however, that tutors be willing to accept a learner not meeting the desired characteristics … especially if they have been waiting for a tutor for a long time. The more flexible you are, the quicker we’ll be able to match you and the quicker you can begin tutoring.

How do I know where to begin?

Soon after applying, each learner is carefully evaluated by one of our trained assessors. This helps us determine the book level that will be most useful for him or her. However, no evaluation is infallible. If you find after a few sessions that the material is too easy or too hard for your learner, please let us know right away so we can adjust the learner’s materials.

What should I do if a learner is late or misses a tutoring session?

You should know that we ask our learners to sign a “contract” which emphasizes their responsibility to you as their tutors and tells them that if they miss two (2) classes without proper notification, they will be terminated from the program. That means that they must call you as far in advance as possible if they are going to miss or be late for a class. However, we don’t know when this happens unless you tell us. Please be sure to call Kimberly or Shirley if your learner consistently violates their contract. Shirley will call and warn them about it and if the behavior continues, we will terminate them or place them at the end of the waiting list and match you with a new learner. Please do not hesitate to call Kimberly anytime for advice or assistance.

Is it OK to take field trips with my learner?

Absolutely! This is great way to keep lessons from getting monotonous and a great way to evaluate how your learner performs in the real world. Trips to shopping malls, supermarkets, libraries, museums are excellent choices for a field trip. However, we do NOT recommend that you take them in your car. Please arrange to meet them at the destination.

What about helping the learner beyond tutoring?

Learners will naturally look to the tutor for help in certain situations. Therefore, tutors often find they become counselors to and/or friends with their learners. In many cases, such help is best left to the professionals. We’ll be happy to help you determine which agency the learner might want to contact if they have a problem. Beyond that, the extent you want to be involved is up to you and the time you feel you can devote to the learner.

For additional information, contact the Literacy Office:

United Way Building
1701 14th Street West, Suite 5
Bradenton, FL 34205
(941) 746-8197


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3501 Cortez Road West, Suite 6, Bradenton, FL 34210 | PH: 941.746.8197 | FX: 941.746.9773