Question: I tutor at a group home and the students never have homework. When I bring academic things to do they don’t want to participate. I feel like I’m not making any impact. They all definitely need help with basic skills.
That can definitely be a challenge! First of all, I would suggest increasing student ‘buy-in’ if possible. Many group home students are disenchanted with the educational system that they feel has left them behind and not addressed their needs. Even so, we understand as tutors that it is important to graduate from high school with the basic skills needed to get and hold down a job in order for these students to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Start by talking to the students about their interests and goals. You might use some of the BUS lesson plans here to introduce post high-school options. We also have been adding academic resources, including a page of supplemental resources that has more creative lessons and games to entice even the most reluctant student.
Once students are able to connect their dreams and plans to education, they are more likely to accept help. If the student is in danger of not graduating or dropping out, do what you can to encourage them. Mentorship is often more important with high school students than homework help. Talk to your student(s) about your job, your experience at college, your hobbies and interests. See what you can find in common. Building this trust and relationship first may help students to more readily accept academic support. Remember to be as genuine and honest as you can be during your interactions; students can detect insincerity and will shut down if they do.
You can always reach out to School on Wheels staff for support. Remember, working with teens can be difficult, but it is also one of the most rewarding types of tutoring.
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.
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