Wednesday, October 02, 2019

What's Next for Volunteers and Youth in Tutor Mentor Programs?

School has started and for the past few weeks non-school volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring programs have been going through the annual process of recruiting, interviewing, doing background checks, providing training and orientations, all leading up to matching a youth and a volunteer in what they hope will be at least a year-long journey.

Connecting a youth with an adult volunteer is just the beginning.
Each week volunteers will be looking for ideas and "what to do" when they meet with their mentee. As they get to know the kids they will also begin to have questions related to the social and emotional well-being and academic needs, of their mentees, as well as the level of support the community and local schools provide.

I've been building a Tutor/Mentor web library since the 1990s (based on a real library I started in the 1970s) which is intended to support volunteers and youth as the look for ideas and what to do.  Below is a concept map pointing to different homework help and learning resources in the library.
Homework Help/Learning Ideas - click here
Open the links at the bottom of each node then scan through the resources that I host on the site. One way to encourage youth and volunteers to do this is to create a "scavenger hunt" or "web quest" and encourage them to write about what they find on an organization blog. As they share what they learn, others are learning with them. The knowledge spreads.  Encourage this. Rewards help!

Once you are familiar with what's in the library it's easy to go back to find specific resources when they are needed.

Answering questions volunteers have will be more of a challenge, since each student is different.  Having an experienced staff who have knowledge of local issues and schools is critically important.  However, encouraging volunteers to network and learn from each other is equally important.

To support this learning I point to one sub-section of the Tutor/Mentor Library, with sections that include many articles about race, poverty and inequality.  This is another set of links that will require on-going reading. There's a lot there. 

Click here to open this section of the library

While the school year has just started, now's a good time to remind you to think of the year-round planning process that will help you build and sustain a strong program.

The presentation below focuses on year-round planning. It is one of four that are included in this section of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC website. 

If you follow this planning cycle you'll be collecting ideas now that help you with volunteer recruitment and training when you start the next school year.  You'll be building organizational knowledge that helps you, your staff and your veteran volunteers and students create a culture of learning that focuses on what you need to know to attract students and volunteers, help them build strong relationships and help them do all they can to assure student growth, success in school, and movement toward graduation and adult lives.


I started reaching our to leaders of other tutor/mentor programs in Chicago in 1974 when I first became part of the leadership group of the program at Montgomery Ward.  I've continued this learning ever since.  When we formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 one reason for building a list of existing programs was to provide a resource that enabled everyone to learn from everyone else. 

I hosted conferences in Chicago every six months from May 1994 to May 2015 to encourage programs to connect and learn from each other.  Since going on line in 1998 I've tried to encourage tutor/mentor program leaders and volunteers to use on-line spaces to share ideas and help each other.

I now now maintain a list of program on three sites:

on Facebook - click here
on Twitter - click here
on the Tutor/Mentor Connection site - click here

These enable anyone to look at information other programs are posting or sharing on their web sites. Anyone can reach out with questions. It just takes time.

When I left the Cabrini Connections program in 2011 one of the Board Members said "We'll never know have as much as you've already forgotten."   

I've devoted the past 30 years to finding ways to aggregate knowledge, including experiences of people who have led tutor/mentor programs, in an effort to build a university curriculum that would train people to come into jobs or volunteer roles ALREADY KNOWING MUCH OF WHAT I'VE LEARNED. 

It's unrealistic to expect busy volunteers or transient paid staff to spend 10, 20 or 30 years in one or more programs, learning as much as I have along the way. A few will do that. Not enough.

We need to create a formal learning process, starting when kids are in K-12 school and continuing through college and career. 

read article - click here
That's what this graphic is describing. Read this article and join me in reaching out to one of the many billionaires who are making multi million dollar gifts to universities, so that one of them designates her gift to building a Tutor/Mentor Institute, based on these ideas.

I started this article providing homework help resources for volunteers and students.  Then I moved on to program planning and development.

Hopefully some volunteers, students, parents, staff and alumni from different programs will dig deeper and think with me about ways to build and sustain high quality programs in more places.

I look forward to connecting with you on one of these social media sites.

If you value these articles, please click here and send a contribution. 

2 comments:

tellio said...

Anybody can be a mentor. I have two tutors as embedded tutors in my classes and I use your site to help them do their jobs. So much useful stuff. Jump in. Both feet.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks Terry. That's the goal.