Sunday, February 12, 2023

Super Bowl, Tutoring and Mentoring

Today's the big football game. It will be watched by millions of people from around the world.  I hope a few of those from every city will find, and read, this and other articles I've posted on this blog since 2005.

My friend Brian Banks, who posts on LinkedIn, sent me an article about a virtual tutoring company called Paper.  I read the article, visited the website and added it to this collection in my library.  

I led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program in Chicago from 1975 to 2011 (joined as a volunteer in 1973).  I created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to try to make this type of program available to more kids in high poverty areas.  

Two things stood out in the article about Paper.  

1) the $40 cost per student is paid by the school, not the family, but there are still many schools that cannot afford this cost.  (I did not find cost information on the website, such as how long the $40 fee applies. Is it for a full school year? A shorter time frame?)

2) according to the article "the biggest hurdle is 'awareness'.  If students don't know the service exists, the district buys it, and it sits on a shelf. It's not good for Paper and it's not good for the school, or the students. So building that awareness is the number one most critical thing."

Below is a graphic I've shared often on this post.  

The map in the lower left corner shows high poverty areas of Chicago. As kids grow up different events in their lives influence their learning, and their motivations to learn. This could be lack of reinforcement at home, traumatic events such as shootings, or deaths from health issues. It could be a growing awareness of poverty and racism as the youth moves from middle school to high school. It could be the change in adult support as they move from elementary school, to middle school, then high school. It could be the influence of street gangs, in their own family, and/or in their neighborhood.

These affect each youth differently, at different times.  

Open the concept map shown below and look closely at the supports kids need at each grade level as they move through school and into jobs and careers. 

I've not found a similar map for Chicago or any other city.  Nor have I found an analysis showing on a school-by-school basis, which of these supports are available.  However, at each level homework help and good teachers are needed. Thus a virtual learning option like Paper could be really valuable...if it was available, and if they knew about it.

This is where organized, non-school, volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs can make a difference.

In the programs I led kids came to our site once a week throughout the school year, where they met with a primary one-on-one tutor/mentor, and connected with a variety of other volunteers and learning experiences.  View some of the yearbooks to see the range of activities and volunteers.  

Many students continued for multiple years, often with the same volunteers.  Staff and program leaders provided additional continuity.  

I would have loved to have had access to a learning tool like Paper.  Our volunteers could have coached kids to use it, when they needed extra help, solving part of the awareness problem.

In addition, since our volunteers came from many different companies in the Chicago region, and often from families with significant wealth, they could have helped raise funds for schools to afford services like Paper.

Take another look at the concept map shown above and consider the role volunteers can take to help draw needed resources to schools and families. 

A few days ago I posted an article that included a 2013 map showing participation in an Education, Technology and learning MOOC.  

On Friday evening I participated in a ZOOM reunion with a few of those people, who've stayed connected for the past 10 years. This was posted on Twitter following the gathering.
When I look at a participation map like the ETMOOC map I'm thinking of all the people, from so many different places, who are gathering to talk about ways to help kids.

Imagine a similar map showing Super Bowl viewers.  What would it take for hundreds, or thousands, of people in every city to be looking at information and sharing ideas for building mentor-rich, birth-to-work support systems for kids in every high poverty area, including virtual tutoring resources like Paper offers? 

Below is an animation that illustrates a role athletes could take on a regular basis to mobilize fans and owners to support constantly improving youth programs in high poverty areas.

This animation, and other videos in my library, could be re-produced in many ways, with hundreds of different athletes, celebrities, etc. giving the message.

I hope you'll think of these ideas as you watch the Super Bowl and reflect on it in coming days and weeks.  

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game.  My family has roots in Philadelphia, so I'm rooting for the Eagles!

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Mastodon and/or Facebook.

Help me pay the bills!  Check out the Fund T/MI page

No comments: