Teacher candidates providing virtual tutoring for students

By: Gerry Rucchin
April 1, 2020

Elementary and secondary school students who need help with their studies during the COVID-19 pandemic can get it from the Faculty of Education.

The Teacher Education Office has set up virtual tutoring where students are matched with teacher candidates.

“We’re concerned about students who struggle, or those completing grade 12 and preparing to go into postsecondary education,” said Acting Dean of the Faculty of Education,” Kathy Hibbert.

Here’s how virtual tutoring works. First, parents or caregivers request a tutor from the Learning Supports Hub. Part of their request will include the student’s grade, the subject and whether more than one sibling needs tutoring. Submissions are shared with teacher candidates who review them. When they see a request will be a good fit, teacher candidates contact the family and set up a learning plan.

The tutoring program is collaborative, which means teacher candidates and families work together to formulate a plan. The plan includes a learning schedule, format for instruction, content to be learned and the scheduling of online meetings between students and teacher candidates, said Bachelor of Education Program Coordinator, Katelyn Mentone.

The sign-up link has only been active for one week and it has already been a success. Sixty-eight families have requested a tutor and each family has between one to three children. So far, 34 families have been matched with teacher candidates.

Virtual tutoring for teacher candidates in first and second year is voluntary. However, participating in virtual tutoring also benefits teacher candidates. Mentone said normally, year two teacher candidates would be on their Alternative Field Experience (AFE) while first-year teacher candidates would be teaching in schools. However, with schools closed and social distancing measures in effect, virtual tutoring allows teacher candidates to fulfil their AFE requirements.

“We've expanded the Alternative Field Experience requirements during the current pandemic to allow teacher candidates to develop self-directed experiences that fit their learning goals, fulfill the course requirements and, in many cases, support the community,” said Mentone. “In addition to virtual tutoring, they could choose to develop educational activities, work remotely with a community organization or propose their own project.”

Those who have been matched with families will be encouraged to continue tutoring their students until school reopens, even if their AFE has been completed, said Mentone.

Once the pandemic is over, Mentone expects the original tutoring system would return to its pre-pandemic state where tutoring requests would be posted to a virtual job board for teacher candidates, who in turn, would tutor students in person.