I work full time as the Head of the Tutoring Department in a private school in Vancouver. I tutor directly one-to-one with students every day. When Covid struck the school moved to online learning, and I had my first taste of teaching through a computer. It was definitely a trial by fire situation where I had to learn the technology really quickly. My students had an uncanny knack of always being one step ahead of me. They could switch who was hosting the meeting, who could draw on the virtual whiteboard, and how to turn their mute buttons on and off to make weird noises as I tried to work with small groups of students. It was a case of trying to look like I was in control but was barely hanging on. The great news is this very steep learning curve worked. I was able to learn so much more about how to teach online.
That first summer I moved all my summer tutoring to an online format as we were still heavily in the throws of the first wave of Covid. My students could be tutored from wherever they were rather than me going to their house or us meeting at school. It worked really well. I work with students from Kindergarten age right through to high school. I arranged my materials in file boxes, and sent pdf’s to each family ahead of time. The pdf’s weren’t always printed out on time so I learned to adapt to working with some students having the minimum of materials handy - sometimes just a pencil and a piece of paper.
I have continued with my after school students online and am able to navigate their google classroom assignments, create online learning tools, play games, and share pdf’s and other reading and writing materials.
This online format has it’s challenges as often my students need to move rather than be stuck in front of a computer screen for any length of time. I developed some ‘brain break’ tools allowing the students to use many skills in one go along with taking a break from the computer for a small amount of time. The student reads and then reacts to the brain break card. You can send pdf’s of cards to your students to print out, or hold them up to the camera for the student to read. The goal is for the student to read the brain break card and do the actions or answer the question. They move from simple instructions you can read to your non-readers through to multiple instructions and steps where the student needs to read, remember the instructions and their order, and respond appropriately. The students use their decoding skills, working memory, and executive functioning skills. I thought this would be a good freebie to give to other tutors with our first newsletter, enjoy!