As a part of our research, this semester the DEPTH team volunteers at Genesis Home’s Study Buddy after-school program and makes on-site observation. We were advised during the volunteer training that due to the nature of the families’ transitory stay and confidentiality issue, we should not get too close to the kids . Establishing relationships with our tutees is also difficult because we only stay there for one hour every week, and we do not work with the same kid every time. However, there are moments when the relationship just forms naturally. A hug at the end of the tutoring session, a high-five when we just finished a hard book, another high-five when my tutee finally figured out how to solve a math problem. Because tutor-tutee relationship is noted as one of the main reasons for the success of an after-school program, these little moments are worth embracing.
Since we may not see the child again next week, it is even more important that we give him or her our best in 60 minutes. One way to keep the tutoring sessions efficient is to set high expectations. Even when the kids have different tutor every night, they will perform better if they know what is expected from them. For example, when they are done with homework, the kids automatically ask for their individual binders to work with grade-appropriate worksheets. The support they receive from different tutors should also be consistent. All DEPTH team members try to practice positive reinforcement in our volunteering section, giving the kids appropriate labeled praises and encouraging them to work independently as much as possible.
There are possible ways to increase the consistency among tutors. Currently, every tutor is given an evaluation sheet at the end of the section to note down the tutee’s work and learning progress. If given the sheet at the beginning rather than the end, the tutor may be better aware of what the tutee is good at or needs to focus on. Also, the volunteer coordinator may try to match a specific tutor on a given day of the week with a tutee. In terms of setting high expectations for the tutoring section, we created a tutoring tip worksheet that provides tutors with specific techniques in teaching literacy, math, and giving positive reinforcement. I am now reviewing literature about successful after-school models to see what can be replicated at Genesis Home. My next step is to analyze the desired outcomes of the program from Genesis Home staff, parents, tutors, and tutees and develop a list of enrichment activities that can be done during and after the homework session to meet with these expectations.