Before COVID-19, I tutored students at libraries and learning centers. When Illinois shut schools last March, I switched to online tutoring, adding a socially distanced option at a local park when the weather warmed up. I also relied on COVID-19 guidelines issued by health departments at the state and national level to make decisions about services.
As a result of this experience, I’ve learned a lot about what works, and what doesn’t.
For the fall semester, students may continue to register for remote or socially distanced tutoring, based on the guidelines (below). Please contact me for more information or to discuss your individual tutoring needs.
Option 1: Remote Writing Tutoring
Remote tutoring is the safest option and has proven to be effective for many students. For new students in the local area, I’m happy to schedule a socially distanced outdoor visit for introductions before starting remote sessions.
Health Risk: No virus risk for students or tutor.
Location: From our own homes.
Session Length: Generally 1 hour weekly is a minimum to make progress. Young students and students with special needs may do better with two 30-minute sessions per week.
Recommended Technology & Materials for Students:
- Writing location with a desk or other workspace free of noise or distractions.
- Computer laptop (with functioning monitor, microphone, speakers, and camera).
- High-speed internet connection with capacity for streaming video.
- Student email account for Zoom calls and for sharing writing online.
- Google Docs for sharing writing and feedback.
- Notebook and pen/pencil for exercises, brainstorming, and note taking.
Additional Technology Options
- Earbuds/Headset: Some students prefer to use earbuds or a headset to block out ambient sound.
- Phone Call vs Zoom Video: If a student has no access to high-speed internet, or no built-in camera, then a cellphone call is an excellent alternative. A phone call works especially well if the student can share their work via a Google Doc.
- Computer vs iPad: A computer with a full-sized monitor works best for Zoom. Alternatively, students can use one device for the call, and another for sharing documents and working on writing. However, relying solely on a small iPad screen makes multitasking difficult and can be frustrating.
Options for Sharing Writing Remotely
Sharing writing is critical for making remote learning work smoothly. My goal is to rely on technology, while also respecting the needs of the student.
Young students and students with less keyboard experience may be able write more fluently on paper; however, technology will need to come into play to share the work.
Using Google Docs:
- Shared View: Tutor and student have the exact same view of the document. Both can read, edit, or comment on the text in real-time.
- Links to Resources: Google Docs can provide a permanent location for links to online resources, which the student can use for future writing sessions.
- Using Gmail: Students can use their own Gmail account to create Google Docs and share them with the tutor. This gives them maximum control over their writing.
- Using Email: Students can use an email account to send the tutor a document (.doc or .txt). The tutor can save it as a Google Doc, then email back a link to share access, in real-time, during the tutoring session.
- Notebook: Spiral notebooks make it easier to keep all writing together in one location to build on skills over time.
- Lined Paper: If a notebook is not available, set up a folder for storing loose leaf lined paper (college or wide ruled).
- Pen and Pencil Options: Students may benefit from a range of writing implements, such as pens, pencils, mechanical pencils, gel pens, highlighters, or markers.
- Sharing the Text: To share work on paper, students can take a pic of the text using their cellphone, then email or text it to the tutor.
Using Offline Documents:
- Creating Documents: Students can use Word or other editor to create a digital document.
- Export Formats: Students need to save or export the document in a format that can be viewed by the tutor (for example, .docx, .doc, .txt, or .pdf).
- Email: The student can attach the digital document to an email to send it to the tutor. Both tutor and student can view the document offline while discussing the writing via Zoom meeting or cellphone call.
Option 2: Socially Distanced Tutoring
Many students miss face-to-face instruction or require in-person instruction to assist with their learning needs. However, the old setup of 1:1 tutoring at the library is no longer feasible, nor is tutoring at a student’s home.
Instead, please contact me to review the requirements for socially distanced learning to see if a good option can be set up.
Health Risk: Low virus risk for students and tutor.
Location: Meeting 1:1 outdoors, in a park, or in an extremely well ventilated space, as agreed upon by tutor and student.
Session Length: Generally 1 hour weekly is a minimum to make progress.
- Students and tutor do not share materials.
- Students and tutor use face masks at all times.
- Students and tutor maintain social distancing, spacing 6ft apart.
- Outdoor location with table and benches will be pre-cleaned by tutor.
- Students and tutors will inform each other about COVID-19 exposure and will stay home if sick or showing symptoms of COVID-19.
- Classes will be cancelled due to: local or state stay-at-home orders; bad weather or loss of workspace; or COVID-19 symptoms, positive test, or exposure.
Student Equipment & Materials:
- Notebook and pen or pencil for writing.
- Cellphone and mobile data for taking pics to share writing with the tutor.
COVID-19 Resource Links
During the fall semester, I will continue to look for guidance from our state health department and the CDC to minimize COVID-19 health risks for myself and students.