Staff reflections: Heather Kamenear

In this series, “Staff Reflections,” we introduce the members of the Innovations for Learning team, who will tell us what brought them to our organization and why they’re excited to do this work. 
Today: Heather Kamenear, National Coordinator, Online Tutoring.
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy main role at Innovations For Learning is to train tutors, assign them to students, and then manage them throughout the year. This is quite a rewarding job, as I know that these tutors are helping students all over the country improve their reading skills and develop a passion for books.

As a former pre-school teacher — and lifelong, avid reader myself — I am very proud to be part of this process.

TutorMate and TeacherMate are IFL’s two principal endeavors, but during my two years with the company, I have been lucky enough to be part of several smaller projects. These projects excite me to no end, because they demonstrate IFL’s unlimited creativity and potential.

Of course there are many reasons that children fall behind in reading, but one such reason is that students, especially those really struggling, don’t find it exciting enough. When kids are excited about something and when they can relate to it, they are more likely to try harder and persist.

The project I worked on last summer involved writing out scripts for dozens of books and then recording myself reading them. I also added my own questions and comments to make the reading more engaging for the students. These recordings are targeting students who are unable to read these books themselves without assistance.

We put the recordings onto mp3 players, so that students can listen to my voice and simultaneously follow along with the actual books in front of them. While this is going on, another group of students can be reading on their TeacherMates, and yet another group can be receiving instruction from the teacher.

While I admit that it’s pretty neat to think that first graders all over the country are hearing my voice read these stories, this is genuinely an incredible idea on its merits. It allows students who would otherwise just look at the pictures without getting much out of the books to actually comprehend what’s going on and even make predictions. They can feel as though they are really reading, which will enable them to stay engaged and excited.

I was lucky enough to have parents who read to me every day and bought books for me whenever I asked. Not all kids are this fortunate. So I am thrilled and proud to be part of an organization that helps kids all over the country learn to read and develop a passion for it.

I find it exhilarating to think of the possibilities that the future holds with IFL. There are so many potential projects to undertake and so many students to reach. I look forward to being a part of it all.

Heather Kamenear
heather@innovationsforlearning.org
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Posted on January 23, 2013, in IFL, Innovation, Reading, Staff Reflections, TeacherMate, Teaching, Technology, TutorMate, Uncategorized, Volunteering and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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