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 backgrounds in fields such as banking, real estate, and business. 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 due to the learner’s personal situation.
I don't speak another language. How will I communicate with a non-English student?
While many learners are non-English speakers, you will be matched with a learner you can communicate with on a basic level.
How long is the training program?
Each new tutor will attend a short orientation plus a tutor training workshop. 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. It takes no more than an hour and does not represent any obligation on your part. The training workshop is conducted by an experienced tutor trainer and is designed to help you learn and practice the techniques of tutoring. The workshop consists of two days, six hours each day. At the end of the workshop, you will be qualified to tutor at any level. Introductory online training is available for those who are not sure they are ready to commit to tutoring. See Tutor Training for additional details and upcoming workshops.
How long should I plan on tutoring my learner?
The minimum duration we require is six months; however, 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 for more than 10 years, helping multiple learners over the years.
How often should I tutor?
The ideal tutoring schedule is to meet at least once a week for approximately 1.5 hours each session. If you and your learner agree to meet more than once a week, that would be fantastic. If you or your learner need to take a break for vacations or family needs, try to be creative in ways to maintain progress, such as writing letters or postcards. Please let us know right away.
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 do NOT recommend you meet in either your own home or the home of your learner for safety and security reasons, and because there may be too many distractions.
When and 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 not to tutor the recommended learner, and if at any time, you experience a problem of any kind, please 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 the learner has 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 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” that emphasizes their responsibility to you as their tutor 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 let us know if your learner consistently violates this contract. We 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 us anytime for advice or assistance.
Is it OK to take field trips with my learner?
Absolutely! This is a great way to keep lessons from getting monotonous and to evaluate how your learner performs in the real world. Trips to shopping malls, supermarkets, libraries, and museums are excellent choices for a field trip. However, we do NOT recommend that you take your learner in your car. Please arrange to meet your learner 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.