Virtual Peer Tutoring: screen-to-screen brush ups

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As students nationwide learn from their homes, the Student Union has moved their Peer Tutoring program online to continue providing additional academic support to students. Student Union President and leader of the Virtual Peer Tutoring (VPT) program Sharon Li said that the program provides “a valuable resource for students who may need extra help in a subject or different learning methods. It allows for flexibility in the schedule of students to learn from their peers and also understand things taught in another way. I think it’s a rewarding experience for the tutors to teach others and learn how to communicate concepts differently to students. I am glad that we have the opportunity and are able to continue this program in a remote setting.”

Peer tutoring has been a part of the THHS community even before the start of virtual learning. Despite the pandemic and closure of schools, “[the Peer Tutoring Committee] still wanted to provide quality online tutors to students who need help,” said sophomore Peer Tutoring Committee member Sean Zhou. Students from grades 10-12 are encouraged to sign up to tutor, especially in subjects they excel in or have taken the year prior. Tutoring other students is also a way for students to gain service hours, especially as applying to be a tutor is a requirement for the Arista Honor Society.

Forms to be a tutor or to sign up for tutoring were sent out in mid-November and a couple of weeks later, tutor-tutee match-ups were sent out. 

There are two forms that students can fill out, a Become a Virtual Peer Tutor and a Request a Virtual Peer Tutor form,” Sean said. “On the Become a Virtual Peer Tutor form, we ask students to select the subjects they feel comfortable with teaching and provide the teachers who taught them that subject. On the Request a Virtual Peer Tutor form, we ask students to select the subjects they would like a tutor for.” 

After gathering this data, Sean said that “all the names of the tutors and tutees are put into two Google Sheets and the Peer Tutoring Senate Committee matches tutees with a qualified tutor.”

Many students have begun to use the VPT program as a way to brush up on subjects that they are having a hard time understanding as they adjust to online lessons. Freshman tutee Sumay Jain said that his tutor for Spanish 2 and Chemistry, sophomore Justin Linzan, has helped him in his academic struggles as he set up lessons based on what Sumay needed to improve on, and asked if he needed any extra help on other topics he was struggling on. Sumay expressed his gratification and said, “He [has] also helped quiz me to prepare for my quizzes and tests and was very flexible with our schedule.” 

Though Sumay and Justin meet biweekly, the schedule is entirely up to when the tutor and tutee are both free. “If a tutee requests to be tutored four days a week, the tutor is able to politely let them know that they’re only available twice a week,” said Sean. 

As the program has become high in demand, there is a shortage of tutors available for all requested subjects. Instead of individually pairing tutors and tutees, the committee has started assigning group peer tutoring sessions so that all tutees can still be helped.  “We understand that it isn’t as ideal compared to a one-on-one session,” said Sean. “But a group session also provides an opportunity for students to work off of each other.” Teachers are also being asked to recommend former students to volunteer as tutors.

Some current tutors said that they signed up for the program to revisit older material while helping underclassmen that may not have as strong a foundation in certain subjects. Sophomore tutor Irene Skandalakis said, “I feel like everyone can use extra help afterschool sometimes, and now with online learning the chance of misunderstanding has increased. So, I thought it would make sense to take on the chance to help out another student.” 

“I would definitely recommend becoming a tutor because it’s a great way to help out a peer that needs it,” Sophomore Anusha Ramjanam said. “The best part about it is forming a bond with your tutee, learning more about them, and eventually growing a friendship.”

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