Welcome to tutoring in the time of Coronavirus. As School on Wheels tutors move online in droves, we rounded up some of our most experienced online tutors to share their stories and give advice to those transitioning.
In this episode, Katie calls up tutor Diana Peterson, who has been tutoring our students at the Skid Row Learning Center online for well over a year. Being an online tutor for the SRLC can be a pretty chaotic gig, but she’s cheerfully worked it down to a science. As you’ll hear, Diana has a mind for process, and she’s come up with some great online tutoring hacks.
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As we continue to monitor developments regarding COVID-19, we wanted to update you regarding School on Wheels and the steps we are taking to support our students, volunteers, partners, and team. The situation is still very fluid, continually evolving, and impacting our communities in many ways.
As we always do, we are keeping children experiencing homelessness front and center. While we have suspended all on-site tutoring, closed our Skid Row Learning Center, and canceled all planned events, our staff is working remotely and still in close contact with families, partners, and volunteers to ensure that our students are supported. We recognize that our ability to work from home is a privilege and we are so grateful to all those who have no choice but to go to work so that the rest of us are taken care of.
Our major priority at the moment is to identify and fulfill the most critical needs of our students, their families, and the shelter staff who are on the front lines. This is what we have done in the past two weeks:
Conducted outreach to over 250 shelters and school districts we work with to identify their major needs; surveyed them as to internet access and hardware available for students.
ADVOCATE Follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) where we share inspiring stories, learning resources, important petitions, and news related to the issues our students and families are facing.
Let’s work together and do what we can to stay safe during this crisis, making sure our most vulnerable kids–those without a home–have the support they need to grow up healthy and get the education they need to survive and thrive. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
At School on Wheels, our top priority is always the safety and well-being of our students, volunteers, staff, partners, and communities.
Effective immediately, we have suspended all in-person tutoring services to our students and have canceled all events. We will put all new applications and student/volunteer matches on hold. Our Skid Row Learning Center will also be closed for the time being.
For most of our students, school is their only safety net, offering food, education, physical and mental health services, caring adults, and a safe place to be during the day. Schools and after school programs offer stability and safety. We will help our students by offering alternatives to in-person tutoring during this time. We are working directly with our active tutors to implement this as quickly as possible.
We are collaborating with our staff and board, as well as external educators and other partners, to find creative ways to support our students and community during this time. We know this situation will have a huge impact on our most vulnerable populations and we are committed to our mission of serving children experiencing homelessness.
In 2019, we introduced Virtual Field Trips to eight tutoring locations. These sessions expose students to places and ideas that they otherwise may have never encountered, allowing us to expand their worldview despite geographic and financial barriers. We are utilizing two types of Virtual Field Trips – PORTS and Peace Corps Global Connections.
The PORTS program from California State Parks connects park rangers to students via video chat. Rangers in parks all over the state give students a virtual tour of their park, explain how State Parks protect important ecology, and even show students wildlife in real-time. So far, we’ve taken elementary students in Anaheim on a tour of Hearst Castle, learned about paleontology in the Anza-Borrego Desert with students at a South LA shelter, and strolled through the sequoias in Northern California with students at the Orange County Rescue Mission.
The Peace Corps Global Connections program connects Peace Corps volunteers around the world with students in the US via video chat or other methods. These volunteers are able to impart cultural knowledge and inform students about what the Peace Corps does. At the end of 2019, a volunteer in Guatemala spoke to high school students at a youth shelter in Glendora about how she’s improving sanitation policy at a local Guatemalan school. Shortly after, a volunteer in Cambodia spoke to students at a shelter in Long Beach about teaching Cambodian students and handling cultural differences.
Seeing our students’ minds open to all the world’s possibilities is truly a joy. We look forward to connecting more of our students to Virtual Field Trips in 2020!
School on Wheels is proud to bring you a brand new podcast about tutoring, homelessness, and the experiences of our volunteers, staff, and students.
With the decade swiftly coming to a close, we decided the time has come for our tutor education to take on a newer format–a shorter, more playful, more digestible format. In this podcast, you will have a chance to hear the stories of tutors who have overcome challenges with their students. You will hear interviews with experts on education, child development, and homelessness. You will hear sound bites from some of our students. Hopefully, you will hear something that helps or inspires you.
Join our Training and Development Coordinator, Katie Brennecke, as she introduces you all to our new Executive Director, Charles Evans, in a short-and-sweet interview. Enjoy!
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