It’s the time of year for Innovations for Learning tutors to be making plans for end-of-the-year get-togethers with the students they’re helping learn to read.
About 1,300 adults are devoting a half-hour each week to communicating, via telephone and the computer, with children in low-income neighborhood schools. From their desks in corporations like AT&T and agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard, the grownups are giving first-graders some precious personal attention and encouragement to get them started on a successful path through school.
To cap the experience, the volunteers will travel to the kids’ classrooms to read stories, play word games, enjoy story-building exercises, and — very often — bask in the glow of the kids’ appreciation.
This year, the process for signing up and planning for these school visits is streamlined, thanks to a new computer program on the IFL web page for tutors that allows tutors to sign up with a click on the “RSVP” button and to see instantly who else among their coworkers is planning to attend. The new tool also lets classroom teachers and TutorMate coordinators see how many visitors to expect.
The new system went active earlier this month, thanks to crucial help from IFL’s partner for technical matters, Photon, based in India.
Until now, organizing the end-of-year visits was rather haphazard. “We never knew who was going to come,” said Cary Zakon, IFL’s director of TutorMate operations. “Now, it gives us some foresight. If we see that registration is lagging, we can send out reminders to the coordinators. And if we get fewer than three people signed up, we’ll cancel the event.”
Hopefully, that won’t happen very often. Because one thing that tutors, teachers and students all have learned — these are great events.
As one tutor told us after a visit last year: “It was so great to have an opportunity to meet our students — we had an amazing time! The students were so excited to meet us in person and and they loved the books and our token gifts.”
For more information on the visits and registering for them, click here.
Photo: JP Morgan Chase employees at classroom party, 2011. From IFL video.