The Fantastic Four: Our Time at the O'Brien Center
Tutoring at the O' Brien Community Center in Winooski
Katy Arend - Motivation & Achievement
One of my biggest take aways from tutoring was how when students get frustrated and decide they can't do something, its almost impossible to convince them that they can. Many times during tutoring, students would throw up their hands and expect the tutors to do the work for them, not always because they wanted to offload the work, but because they felt that they couldn't do it. One time when I was helping a student she told me verbatim that she sucked at science, and that she didn't care about the project she was working on because she had an F in the class already. Her self-concept in her Motivational Vulnerability was so terrible she had given up entirely because she thought she couldn’t do it. In cases like this I think that Vygotsky’s Magic Middle was lost because the student was too challenged, and became frustrated as a result. So, what I learned for my classroom was to really try and monitor which students are doing well and which students are struggling in the class so they do not get to the point of hating what I'm teaching.
Jay Bianco - Learning
Over the course of my service learning at the O'Brien center one of the most important things I learned is that everyone learns in different ways and are always at different cognitive levels. These levels may be different depending on the subject area. A student may thrive in one subject, and that same student could struggle greatly in another subject. Each student has their own needs and methods of learning that work best for them. Since I did not know all of the students very well, it was difficult to quickly try and discover which method of tutoring worked best for him/her.
According to the constructivist theory on learning, people all learn differently. Each comes into a learning situation with prior knowledge and skills into a new learning environment. We have an activation of prior knowledge during a learning situation that contributes to our overall learning experience. While at the O’Brien center I noticed a lot of this happening, everyone came into the tutoring session with their own prior knowledge the impacted how they learned and I would have to adapt to meet them at their current understanding. Another constructivist idea I noticed was that sometimes the best help a student could get was from a peer. Peer-to-peer learning where peers build off each other to grow. Sometimes the best tutor is a peer who has just learned the material. Being at the same cognitive level it is sometimes easier to learn from a peer.
Emily Fenuccio - Risk-Taking and Cognitive Development
Michelle Goldsmith - Identity
The Folks at the Center
Sarah & Todd
What Made You Decide to Work at the O'Brien Center?
What Is the Greatest Challenge New Tutors Face?
As stated by Todd in his interview on the toughest things that new tutors face at the O’Brien center he mentioned that the unstructured nature of how the tutoring is set up. The tutoring is not set up to be a one-on-one setting with a tutor and a student. They let kids float in and out at their leisure. One thing I noticed is that it can be difficult when you are in the middle of working with a student and another one comes in out of the blue that wants your help immediately. It tricky to leave a student who I have been working one-on-one with to go and help out someone else. Sometimes they are shy and don’t ask for help and just sit there waiting for help, and I may not notice they are there. I personally have noticed it can be difficult to properly help everyone out who needs it as they come and go randomly. Especially challenging during the first few weeks.
How Have the UVM Tutors Impacted the O'Brien Center?
What Does the O'Brien Center Mean to the Community?
What are the Most Important Things Tutors Should Know/Do for the Students?
One of the biggest things seems to be knowing the difference between when a student really needs your help and when they want you to do the work for them. Many times it's hard to tell because the line between helping and over-helping is a thin one. Many time students really need a good shot in the arm to get a project done, but only experience can really tell you when you are becoming the student as opposed to helping the student.