Tutor Zone Remains Resilient Through COVID-19

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Tutor Zone has encouraged all students and their families to build resilience. To be resilient is to bounce back during stressful times. When Tutor Zone shut down in December, we had to put in-person tutoring on hold and our instructors figured out how to adapt to online tutoring. Three instructors, Jennifer, Sheree, and Kyra shared their stories of how they remained resilient and flexible despite the lockdown.

How has the transition from in-person tutoring to online tutoring affected your students?

Jennifer: For my students, I have seen them have major setbacks and a really hard time understanding material even if it becomes simple to them after explaining it just once more to them. I have heard a couple of students agree that it is hard for them to pay attention to their monitors for every single class on repeat. They feel like they don’t have much direction when they are online so academically, they suffer.

Sheree: When Tutor Zone had to switch to online, most of my in-person students did not want to do online tutoring. I feel that they could possibly be having a harder time in their classes since they stopped receiving tutoring. The students that did transition to online tutoring are still doing great in their classes. We get a lot of work done over Zoom, and I’m sure they enjoy that they can do tutoring from their home as well.

Kyra: My students have seemed to be a little down emotionally because of the lack of in-person contact, but I’m always happy to engage with them and make them comfortable during our online sessions. My students took some time to warm up to online tutoring sessions, as it was new to them as it was to me. I’ve found that all of my students are resilient, and within a few weeks of online tutoring, they’re just as engaged and communicative as my students had been when we were in person.

How have you adjusted to online tutoring?

Jennifer: For me personally, I think I have adjusted well. The tools online that we can use to draw out problems or to have videos have been great, however, there are many circumstances that can come up. Sometimes problems can occur such as the Wi-Fi not sending out the links on time for Zoom meetings or you just lose your student mid-tutoring because their Wi-Fi cuts their video out. Through it all, online tutoring has been overall more of a slow adjustment for me since I feel like I am learning new tools all the time, and I am getting used to the problems that can occur for any of my students.

Sheree: I found the adjustment to online tutoring easy! I still go to my Tutor Zone location for a more effective session, and it helps me feel like things are (almost) normal.

Kyra: Initially, it was challenging to engage with students and observe students’ work through online tutoring. Using tools like Bitpaper has helped me observe students’ work, which has been beneficial. The main barrier I faced was not being able to connect with students’ work in real-time, but with the tools, I have communicated with my students as I did before. Another issue was that I struggled with communicating and engaging with students. Similar to in-person sessions, students take a little bit to warm up, but in no time, they’re engaged.

Explain one thing that you like about online tutoring.

Jennifer: The utilization of screen sharing has been a great thing for me because it’s easier to see what your student has to work on rather than be across a table. Since they are right in front of you and you can see what steps they are physically writing on the screen, you can guide them easier as they go through problems rather than trying to back track through the problems they got wrong. I think it is more proficient in step by step work. 

Sheree: One of the things that I most enjoy about online tutoring is that I can go a little over time if students need extra help or finish the last several questions on their homework. There is not another student waiting for me to come get them in the waiting room!

Kyra: I like working with students, I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to work in an in-person center. I’m grateful to connect to students that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity otherwise. I’m incredibly thankful for online because I currently live about an hour away from Fullerton, and I’m lucky enough to continue working with my students in this setting.

What do you look forward to the most when we return to in-person tutoring?

Jennifer: This sounds weird, but the motivation to dress up for work and care more about my appearance is what I look forward to more. I am someone who absolutely loves the opportunity to dress up a bit because it gives me energy. I think psychologically, by putting in effort in your appearance, it makes you feel more productive through the day. Being around others is in our nature to strive in groups and feed off of each other’s energy with a physical community. 

Sheree: I look forward to seeing my co-workers and seeing my in-person students. I miss the environment and how much life was inside Tutor Zone – students laughing with their tutors, having great conversations, and playing a game for the last 5 minutes of the session. 

Kyra: I look forward to the connection with students and coworkers when we return to in-person tutoring. I have missed the in-person interactions with students and coworkers and the supportive environment that I always feel when working at our in-person Tutor Zone locations. I’m so looking forward to getting to go back to in-person tutoring.

Luckily, Tutor Zone reopened for in-person tutoring February 22 and we continue to be resilient!

By Melissa M.

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