On Sunday, October 22, 2017, School on Wheels was honored at The Good Shepherd Shelter’s 40th Anniversary Gala with their Champion Award. Catherine Meek, Executive Director of School on Wheels, was presented with the award. You can watch her acceptance speech here.
School on Wheels has been providing tutoring services to The Good Shepherd Shelter for over 10 years and recently opened a digital learning room at the site. This is what they had to say about our partnership:
“As you can imagine, with the turmoil of a violent household, many of our children who enter our shelter program are below grade level and often have emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities. We wouldn’t be able to address the unique learning needs of our students so effectively without the ongoing support from School on Wheels tutors who offer after-school support to our students including a homework club and other enrichment activities. In addition to receiving tutoring support, which helps them significantly improve their grades, our students also create a meaningful relationship with the volunteers they work with daily and build a great deal of trust towards them. It is our pleasure to honor School on Wheels with the Good Shepherd Shelter Champion Award for all the tireless and much-needed work they do for our students.”
In this workshop, tutor coordinator/tutor Chris Ruoff presents the group tutoring model in both shelter and school environments. He introduces you to what to expect as well as discusses best practices, tools and resources, and how to prepare for success. Chris also examines the digital learning model and how it can be used to supplement traditional homework tutoring. This workshop is intended for tutors that are currently involved in group tutoring or are considering this as an option.
About the Presenter: Chris Ruoff has been a volunteer tutor coordinator and tutor for School on Wheels for the past year, exclusively working in group environments at shelters and a school. He helped launch School on Wheels’ first digital learning after-school program in Orange County at an elementary school in Santa Ana. He is also an accomplished business development manager, public speaker, and community leader. Chris is very passionate about giving back and tutoring our students in need.
Question: “My student doesn’t want to do anything but homework. I try to bring in other things like books or worksheets but he doesn’t put in any effort even though he is behind in his reading skills. He is in fifth grade.”
Thanks for this question; I think it’s a relatively common behavior for students to resist what they see as ‘extra’ work when they have homework to do instead, especially as they get older. I would suggest making the connection for your student about why this work is important for him to do. Since he is in fifth grade, he is getting to be mature enough to recognize where he might need improvement with certain skills.
Engage him in a conversation about what he wants to work on and be sure to give him choices, so he feels he has some say in the matter. This will, in turn, give him a sense of ownership and might strengthen his dedication. You might start a conversation with: “I know you have homework, and we will prioritize that during our sessions, but I am also here to help you strengthen skills and become a more fluent reader. What things could work on together in addition to homework that would help you in school?” Then, let him answer and see if you can agree on a schedule; maybe 30-40 minutes on homework and 20 minutes on skill-building activities. Over time, you can adjust as needed.
Last, make sure the extra materials you bring in are interesting to him. Some students are reluctant to do worksheets but eager to read a book about a subject they enjoy. Try to incorporate student interests whenever possible. Perhaps using a digital learning tool like Khan Academy might be beneficial. Also, it is possible that some of the materials you have presented are too advanced given his skill level. He may be resisting to avoid embarrassment over acknowledging what he doesn’t know. You could do an assessment with him to determine appropriate grade level materials. Also helpful: admitting when you don’t know something and modelling how to find out the answer. If you can show your student how to tackle the unknown as a fun learning challenge, rather than as something to dread, it will help develop his grit and determination, two important qualities for success in school.
Amanda Carr joined School on Wheels in early 2015. As engagement specialist at School on Wheels, she is dedicated to providing volunteers with resources to help them succeed.
Have a question for our Ask a Tutor feature?
Email askatutor [at] schoolonwheels.org or use the #AskATutor hashtag on any of our social media sites.
We would like to give a huge shout out to all of these amazing tutors who have volunteered with us for a year or more! We couldn’t impact the lives of thousands of children without you.
Rene Huerta Alcaraz
Ellie Weiyu Wang
David Salazar – My first experience in tutoring for School On Wheels was when I met Issa who taught me how important it is to help kids during difficult times in their lives and how we can help so much by just being there. I learned as much from my experience tutoring as Issa learned in being confident in his math and himself.
Region 2 – South LA:
Pamela Wrona – I wholeheartedly believe that fostering a love for learning and an appreciation for the power of education early in life is so important for a student’s future success. I became a volunteer because I wanted to help children who didn’t necessarily have that support in their lives. It’s been such a joy to help my student Marie feel more confident in her studies and to see her eyes light up when she “gets” a concept. After one session, she told me “I wish we could do tutoring EVERY day!” Of course, that little comment made my day!
Region 5 – Hollywood, Silverlake, Pasadena:
Marissa High – I started working as a volunteer because I was feeling like I wasn’t making enough of an impact. I wanted to get involved and see direct results, which is why this is such an amazing program. It does not take up tons of my time, but it is an impactful amount of time for my student. I would say my favorite tutoring moments with him have been when he finishes something he’s been struggling with, and he’s excited that he was able to accomplish it. When I see that excitement, it’s an amazing feeling.
Region 10 – South Orange County:
Chris Ruoff – About a year ago I received an email from LinkedIn with volunteer opportunities that matched my profile – and this was one of them. I was first assigned to a winter shelter and spent 6 months there until it closed in April. In May I helped open a Digital Learning Center at a school site, and just last month we started tutoring at a new shelter in Orange. This has been such an incredible journey. I feel such a great sense of purpose in providing support and consistency for our kids.
Jishnu Basu – I am thankful for the opportunity to use my passion for math to help students who need it the most. I’ve tutored multiple students and each one had different strengths and weaknesses, and each one required a change in my teaching style. This is crucial because in one-on-one tutoring, tutors have the advantage of being able to focus and mold their teaching to a specific student, which cannot be done in the classroom. One of the most interesting aspects of being an online tutor is that I learn something new each week, from new techniques to solve a problem to how to work with different personalities.