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Education
Sep 18, 2020

Tutoring At CFLC

Sponsored Content provided by Erin Payne - Director of Fund Development , Cape Fear Literacy Council

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Indeed, 2020 could not be summed up any better that Robert Burns’ famous quip. Around the world, individuals and organizations have had to depend on the ability to adapt and the skill of pivoting in order to survive and thrive. No part of our society is exempt from the deft shifts needed in mindset, skill sets, and emotional fortitude – and this certainly includes the adult learners and volunteer tutors at Cape Fear Literacy Council.
 
Many of our small classes and tutor pairs transitioned to virtual learning in the spring, and the Literacy Council campus reopened this summer for in-person, learner-centered, socially distant tutoring.

An example of a successful pivot to distance learning is one of our Advanced ESL classes. Technology has mitigated barriers, such as transportation, so that more learners can participate. In fact, two students who moved out of the area during the pandemic are still connected, virtually, to their teacher and class in Wilmington. The group utilizes The New York Times’ popular reader-submitted modern love tales,"Tiny Love Stories," to hone their reading, comprehension, and writing skills. On Zoom and through e-mail, students read the column aloud, discuss, and then write and share their own stories about love and relationships.
 
One ESL Student wrote; I vividly remember that day we first met. He came up and stared at me. His eyes look moist and big. It made me melt and then he enthusiastically greeted me. We had many common hobbies like music and walking outside. While I played the piano, he sat next to me and listened to the music. Also, he was a good listener. I could tell him everything, even my secrets. He sensed my emotions well. When I felt frustrated, he would comfort me with cute tricks... His name was ‘Barks’.”
 
While we have many success stories, not all students and tutors transitioned easily to online learning. Some did not have the technology skills yet to prosper in an online environment, some did not have the digital means or connectivity, and some students and tutors struggled with subjects that proved difficult to teach in a virtual environment. So some students and teachers connect in person – meeting safely and socially-distancing. A small group of Adult Literacy students who utilize works of literature to build their reading, comprehension, and writing skills, met at a large picnic shelter in a local park. Two students expressed, “[it] means a lot, it makes me feel alive again… it gives me hope.” Now that our campus is open for 1-on-1 tutoring, more learners and volunteers are experiencing that sense of possibility. 
 
Volunteers Needed!
 
Ultimately, none of this could be accomplished without the dedication and talents of our volunteer tutors. CFLC has about 200 volunteer tutors from a variety of backgrounds, who are trained by CFLC staff and then paired with students/small classes. They teach using curricula and learning materials provided by CFLC.
 
CFLC has adapted our tutor training to offer online workshops for both our Adult Literacy and English as a Second Language programs this Fall. Would you like to join us? Here are a few skill sets that support tutor success in these unique times….
 
HARD SKILLS:

  • Remote Proficiency – Potential tutors need to feel comfortable using technology, both to participate in tutor trainings and also if they choose to teach virtually. High-level technology skills are not needed and CFLC staff can train you in using virtual teaching platforms.
 
  • Subject-based Skills – Volunteer tutors at the Literacy Council come from all walks of life, and their unique personal and professional perspective is part of what makes our personalized instruction so successful. Potential tutors do not need a background in education or languages other than English. The staff and tutor training team will teach you how to be a successful tutor, they will provide you with all the training materials you will need, and they provide on-going support after training. As Janet, an Adult Literacy tutor at CFLC states, "The CFLC staff has your back." They give you starting materials appropriate to the student's level and can supply others or make suggestions on a different approach if one is not working.”
  
 
SOFT SKILLS:
 
Cape Fear Literacy Council emphasizes personalized education based on each student’s needs and academic/life goals. Below are a few of the character traits and interpersonal skills that mark successful tutors:
 
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ingenuity and Creativity
  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Motivation and Perseverance
  • Resilient Disposition
 
Volunteer tutoring at Cape Fear Literacy Council often proves to be rewarding work. As one ESL tutor states, “This is by far the best thing I’ve done since retiring. I feel like I’m really making a difference here. It’s so good to feel useful.”
 
Want to learn more about volunteer tutoring at CFLC or sign up for our upcoming tutor trainings? Please contact us at (910)251-0911 or visit us at www.cfliteracy.org.
 
 
Erin Payne is the Director of Fund Development for Cape Fear Literacy Council. A former executive director of several nonprofits in southeastern North Carolina, Erin has over twenty years of experience in the corporate, nonprofit, and state government environments. Having a strong professional and personal interest in expanding educational opportunities to all members of our community, Erin has been involved with the Literacy Council since 2009 – first as a Board of Directors member then becoming a member of CLFC’s staff in 2013.

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