When I retired from teaching mathematics in a classroom a few years ago, I thought I would be taking sailing adventures while tutoring a little bit here and there. Like many others, envisioning life in a pandemic never even crossed my mind. Yet, here we are: asked to sanitize, tasked to be distant, and masked to protect. Initially, the hope would be that all would be normal by fall. Unfortunately, the realty is far from it. We are now into a “new normal” and adapting as best as we can.
Our schools are trying hard to adapt to this “new normal” by providing students with a safe and as rich of a learning environment given the constraints of being safe. Those on the frontlines of the education battle are true warriors. They are armed with technology that many have never used before, adapting hands-on lessons to those that can be taught with the appropriate social distance metrics in play, and a host of additional tasks that add to what is already a difficult job. Kudos to our educators who are undertaking this challenge and to lead our young scholars through this unimagined minefield.
As a tutor in this pandemic world, being flexible and adaptable has become more important than maintaining regularly scheduled sessions. In the past, students would generally have standing appointments and I knew well in advance what my schedule would be like. Well, in a pandemic world, it is far from that. Within our area, there are so many different teaching models and schedules. Some are all virtual, some are hybrid, while others are all on-site. Toss in block scheduling, routine days, and onsite/offsite; scheduling is far from predictable. No two days are the same, no two weeks are the same!
So how am I making it work? Luckily, my experience with technology and remote tutoring made it an easy transition to meet with students online. With a little creativity, I have been able to provide the support my students need; but it takes flexibility and adaptability. My setup is such that I can adapt for different learning needs. My laptop, iPad, document camera, and cellphone are all critical elements in my “Zoom” tutoring toolbox. Depending on the needs of the student, I can easily adapt to online textbooks, handouts, and old school textbooks. For those students whose work I need to see, they use their phone to share or send me their work. Though it may not be perfect, it is working.
I no longer worry about the last-minute changes as I am not driving to meet them and waiting in a Starbucks. I no longer have to find ways to fill the time gaps when a student is a “no show”. By being a virtual tutor, I can easily re-schedule to a more convenient time or adjust the length of our sessions.
So how do my students feel about the “new normal” of online tutoring? Many are liking the new setup as they are still getting the help they need, without leaving the comfort of their home. They like the ability to text me and get last minute help if I am available. They like the flexibility of meeting more often for shorter sessions than once a week for an hour. Most of all, no mask is required!
What about the parents? No more drop offs and pickups! Need I say more…
Lisa Ayerst


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