Recently updated for 2011: Thinkfinity Literacy Network has moved to ProLiteracy Education Network! New links below.
ProLiteracy recommends that programs provide at least 12 hours of training for new volunteers who want to tutor in adult basic education, ESOL, and GED programs. This can seem daunting for churches and small non-profits only offering tutoring one or two days per week. Thankfully, ProLiteracy Education Network offers free, self paced online courses created by ProLiteracy that are the same high quality you would get from an in-person training (though not as customized). I recommend the following process for supporting online tutor training:
- Class observation: 2 hours for prospective tutor to observe student/tutor interaction
- Intake: Sit down with prospective volunteer for an interview and application
- Online Training: Provide computer, internet, & printing capabilities for volunteer to complete online training at your program if they cannot at home (6 hours total)
- Orientation: Provide at least two hours of training about your specific program, forms, and materials
- Mentoring: Match the new volunteer with an experience volunteer for at least two more hours (or one class worth) of observation before placing new tutor with a student
Most of the following trainings are directly from ProLiteracy’s Training by Design, previously available only for purchase from New Readers Press. Now they are available–for free!–to YOU and I have used these modules for my new tutor trainings.
To sign up as a new tutor, go to ProLiteracy Education Network’s online courses. Follow the enrollment instructions (you will need an email address). The courses are listed in alphabetical order. I use the modules in this order:
- Succeeding as an Online Learner (Optional for new distance learners)
- Orientation to Volunteering in Literacy
- Principles of Adult Learning
- Making Math Manageable
- Before, During & After–A Reading Comprehension Technique
- Unleashing Potential Through Multi-Intelligent Literacy Instruction
- Working With Adult Literacy Learners
Don’t forget the rules of online safety! #1: Never share personal identifying information unless on a secure site. #2: Always log out. #3: Ask: Who is paying for this? In this case, the content was developed by ProLiteracy and that development was paid for by the Verizon Foundation.
New tutor training is a worthwhile investment: for a few hundred dollars in training, non-profits can recruit volunteer tutoring worth $30-50 per hour. On average, a tutor will help a two hour class for 40 weeks over the course of a year. A satisfied volunteer who sees results will usually serve for at least 3 years!
Let’s do the math: $35/hr x 2 hr/class x 40 wks/yr x 3 yrs = $8400 per volunteer tutor!
That’s a great deal for programs and a huge benefit to the community. In addition, professional development and networking makes a huge difference in the quality of instruction, whether paid staff or volunteer tutors. I started as a volunteer tutor myself in 2004 and I fell in love with non-traditional adult education. Tutoring sparked a passion for empowering adults with the lowest skill levels so that they can be included into our society and economy, and I encourage non-profits to provide tutors with the skills they need to see the results that will make their tutoring a worthwhile investment of their time and energy as well. Training volunteers takes an investment of time and sometimes money but it is cost effective and an important element of any volunteer-based literacy effort.