January 5, 2021
Behind the scenes of Reading Partners’ distance tutoring platform
An innovative solution
With the unexpected changes brought on by COVID-19, many schools across the country transitioned their in-person classrooms to virtual spaces. In response, Reading Partners quickly adjusted our program to support students and their families as they continue their school year with distance learning by launching Reading Partners Connects online literacy tutoring.
The Reading Partners Connects online tutoring platform, allows volunteers and AmeriCorps members to tutor students virtually using Reading Partners’ evidence-based curriculum. Together, in the comfort of their own homes, students and tutors work through content that integrates trusted curriculum skills and lessons into interactive presentations. We are thrilled to provide this solution as a way to continue supporting students in communities practicing distance learning.
Behind the scenes
Much like our traditional program, Reading Partners Connects provides students with one-on-one tutoring, but in a virtual setting – no commuting needed. To ensure tutors feel comfortable with the new online tutoring platform, our volunteer training process now includes two orientations instead of one. During the orientation process, volunteers are supported by four hours of training covering all aspects of our new platform, from technology use to curriculum examples. After both orientations have been completed, volunteers can participate in office hours with our staff to practice using the online platform and prepare for their first session.
Before tutors begin their first session, a full-time site coordinator will reach out, providing all materials and links needed for the session. During the first session with the student, a site coordinator or another staff member will sit in to ensure that everyone is able to use the technology okay and has the chance to meet each other – we love seeing students’ faces again! After that, they will always log in 10-15 minutes before the lesson to make sure the tutor is there, and then will do another check to see that the student is there.
Until we can return to the classroom, Reading Partners Connects provides the moments that make us smile – seeing a student’s face when they master a new skill, practicing a fun dance move during a “brain break”, and most of all, reading together.
Working together to empower students
By December 2020, volunteer reading partners provided nearly 10,000 virtual tutoring sessions to students across 12 regions in the US. In addition to support from students’ families and school communities, our new Reading Partners Connects programming would not be possible without the dedicated work of our AmeriCorps members. AmeriCorps members supporting Reading Partners Connects serve as the lead for family, student, and volunteer engagement, ensuring everyone is equipped to attend and successfully complete their sessions online. They coach tutors, support families, observe distance tutoring sessions, and maintain data systems related to distance tutoring.
Reading Partners moved quickly to ensure volunteers feel confident and comfortable using Reading Partners Connects. The dedicated training volunteers receive as well as the innovative programming for students would not be possible without the generous support of our community. This holiday season, your support will ensure students can continue to receive individualized literacy tutoring no matter where they are learning.
Tutoring through Reading Partners Connects is easy, rewarding, and has a huge impact on the life of a young reader. Sign up to volunteer or make a donation to help us in our continued effort to bring data-driven literacy tutoring to students throughout the country.