PoP Tutoring Team Pivots to Online Support During Pandemic

A collaboration between the E-Team, Dominican University, the Oak Park Public Library and District 97.

When the pandemic prevented last summer’s in-person program, E-Team worked with our partners to create the Power of Partnerships online tutoring corps with nearly 45 college tutors across the country connected to more than 50 students in our district. Tutors who are pre-service teachers in schools of education earn field observation hours and all of our tutors are paid $20 per hour. They meet with students twice a week for one hour each session. Tutors communicate directly with teachers and families to ensure targeted intervention, and students are progress monitored as part of MTSS. See the library's online article: Supporting Power of Partnerships, a new virtual tutoring collaborative

PoP is a continued collaboration between four crucial community partners in Oak Park — the Equity Team (E-Team), District 97, Dominican University, and the library — that provides tutoring support to K-8 students from families identified by D97 as in need of learning support during this time. In doing so, the project aims to address challenges in learning brought on by these uncertain times. For some students, remote learning has caused them to fall behind academically. For others, the challenges are related more to ongoing isolation, which affects social and emotional wellbeing.

 

Thus far during remote learning, 40 tutors in the program have provided nearly 800 virtual sessions to 48 students. Additional tutors and students are joining the program each week. Although the tutoring sessions are online, they provide an opportunity for relationship building because tutors meet with the same one or two students twice each week for one hour. Unlike many tutoring programs, the PoP model also prioritizes the relationship between the tutors, families, and the teachers to bring everyone together to provide support that is targeted specifically to each student. This extra help can make all the difference when families need support for their child(ren) with homework help and troubleshooting technical issues. The personal experience can also be the difference between students logging on and logging out during their remote learning.

 

The tutors are savvy, college-aged students who are often education majors, meaning they have the skills to bridge the learning gap by understanding what is happening in the classroom, identifying learning gaps, and building on students’ strengths. Many are also multilingual and have been paired with students whose first language is not English. Additionally, the PoP program also placed Dominican students with D97 teachers to earn their field observation hours in online classrooms during the school day — some in the Spanish immersion program, where they are able to support students in Spanish. These future teachers completed 400 hours during their semester with the district.

With the continued support of a local donor, this program will continue throughout the 20-21 school year. The partners are assessing the viability of continuing to provide this service over the summer and in the fall as students return to school.