Our tutor training has gone virtual! Training tutors has always been at the heart of the Literacy Council’s endeavor. Without a steady new supply of the great people who volunteer to teach English and reading skills to our adult students, we’d soon be unable to function. A few of our volunteers have some experience teaching, but most do not. And we certainly do not expect them to come to us trained to teach basic literacy skills or English as a Second Language (ESL). In January we conducted one of our largest ever face-to-face training workshops before COVID-19 closures in March.
This year a team of experienced volunteers and staff have been creating an updated version of our training process. It begins with a tutor information session. Following that, volunteers will be asked to watch two online training segments. This will give them background on how to work one-to-one with adult learners and other beginning information on teaching basic literacy and ESL. When they have completed these, they are ready to enroll in a tutor training workshop.
The Literacy Council’s training team was already working on creating a shorter workshop with updated, more closely focused content than the previous one. Because of the pandemic, they shifted their focus to transitioning to virtual training. Since March they have designed a workshop that can be held entirely via Zoom. Weekend Zoom workshops will be divided into two 4-hour sessions held on successive Saturdays. Evening Zoom workshops will be scheduled on four evenings with two hours of instruction each. The first virtual workshop was held in early October. The second is scheduled for early November. When life returns to something closer to normal, we look forward to again holding all or part of the new workshop in person.
Our tutor training program focuses on what a tutor needs to know to begin work with a student. This includes instructions and tips on how to plan lessons, teach reading and writing skills, help ESL students with English pronunciation, and much more.
After the group training, our student-tutor coordinator volunteers will work individually with each new tutor on specific materials for their assigned student and the logistics of tutoring online.
The new workshop is a joint effort with the Literacy Council of Washington County, with whom we have conducted combined workshops for many years. LCFC has a long history, dating to 1985, of helping to found and mentor literacy councils in our region. These include Carroll, Washington, and Garrett Counties. We also assisted with tutor training in Allegany County (MD), Loudoun County (VA), and two counties in Pennsylvania.