Learning To Tutor Once A Week

I hung out with another learner for a bit this morning (she had to come up-town to deal with Social Services). We set up an appointment for next Tuesday at the library closest to her. I also sent her on her way with 14 yellow and red Pageturners. They're a little low for her. But she was feeling rusty. She'd been out of a program for a few months, and wanted a soft start.

Then, I came home and dug out my battered copy of Tracy Carpenter's The right to read: tutor's handbook for the SCIL Program (Frontier College, 1986).

I've kept this book close, over the years, as a steady reminder of the "Student Centered Individualized Learning" - though I'm partial to the term "learner" over "student". Although it was written for in-home tutoring, I've always found it useful with my class work.

But now I've got two once-a-week learners, and two other occasional learners, none of whom I can manage to get into the same place at the same time. My training, and my preferred style of facilitation, involves small group learning. What I really like is to get anywhere from four to a dozen people gathered in an informal setting for six to eight hours a week. This new situation - dispersed, individual, short-contact learning - is... different.

My other touchstone text is Pat Campbell's Teaching Reading to Adults: A Balanced Approach (Grass Roots Press, 2003) which I own, along with the two accompanying DVDs.

(By the way, has anybody been to one of her recent workshops or used her new tool The Diagnostic Adult Literacy Assessment for Beginning Readers? I'm curious to know how it differs from her CARA tools.)

But my resources, my real lean-on resources, are the low-level readers provided through PRACE, Grass Roots Press and New Readers Press (Canada). There is just no substitute for being able to provide a learner with a quality, appropriately leveled reading text or novella.

Literacy support as library work - or library support as literacy work? I don't know. They just seem to go together.

Anyway, after that, it's a matter of us - each learner and I - figuring out how to make the most of 50 or 60 minutes a week.

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