Forward tutoring: Educate, volunteer, improve [guest post]

[This is a guest post by Dustin Lewis, a 5th grade teacher at the American International School of Budapest.  Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, he has been teaching internationally for four years, with a previous stop at The Anglo American School in Moscow.  Dustin also works part-time promoting First Tutors, a UK-based tutoring service that specializes in finding the right individual tutors for each student.  In his spare time, Dustin enjoys reading and Asian cuisine.]

Educating the youth in our society falls primarily on school systems and teachers.  In many cases, children don’t receive the specialized and individual attention they need to work through tricky concepts or difficult material.  To combat this, some parents hire private tutors to work with their children.  In this blog post, I will detail a new tutoring concept that will not only help children learn, but will provide them with opportunities to become socially responsible as well.

“Serve while you learn” may be the most fitting tagline to describe the concept of forward tutoring. Forward tutoring is beneficial for both students and the community, as it combines the process of learning with the idea of giving back to those that have helped you.  Students get online help for the subject of their choice while in return, they will participate in community service projects contributing towards the betterment of the community they belong to. The online help offered is, in most cases, as good as classroom coaching except in a personalized one on one setting. The students have access to a number of qualified tutors, in a range of subjects and specialties.  Unlike normal tutoring, however, the payment is not in paper currency, but in the form of community service and volunteer projects.  Forward tutoring combines serving and learning in an innovative way through the use of technology, helping out not just the students, but everyone in the community that this project touches.

Forward Tutoring Removes Financial Barriers to Tutoring: For most children, the school day ends when the bell rings.  Sure, many will go home, do their homework, and study for upcoming exams.  For many children, however, this is simply not enough.  In larger school districts where the teacher to student ratio may not be ideal, most students do not receive the individualized attention required for them to succeed.  In this case, one option for students and parents is to hire an after school tutor.  For many families, however, this just isn’t a realistic possibility due to the expensive nature of the tutoring industry.  Forward tutoring breaks down these financial barriers, and allows any person from any social or economic background access to personalized and specialized tutoring.

Forward Tutoring is Promoting Student Volunteerism: Nothing can match the vigor of youth. Non-profits are always looking for helping hands to work towards various noble causes, but finding professionals from various fields that offer volunteer help is almost impossible to find. Thus, forward tutoring provides the framework for students to take action.  Many times students either want to volunteer, but don’t know of the opportunities, or aren’t aware of the positive social ramifications until they actually help out in the community.  Hence, students go through the dual development by being aware as well as educated. Forward tutoring allows the learners to pay forward the learning in the form of helping non-profits, supporting various kinds of community service.

Online Tutoring is Effective, Efficient, and Rewarding: The best part of forward tutoring is the actual learning that takes place.  Qualified students go through a comprehensive qualification process, where they are given tools and training to support their struggling peers.  These students are learning or have learned the exact same material that many of the learners are struggling with, so it is a perfect match for support.  Countless studies have supported the fact that to peer-to-peer learning is one of the best and most effective ways for a student to learn.  It works even better when the two students are of different ability levels.  Take a look at this study by the National Education Association for more evidence.  The goal of all tutoring is to improve and enhance academic performance in the classroom.  Peer tutoring has proven to be an effective method for facilitating this improvement for the learner and the tutor alike.

Benefits for the Student Tutors: It may seem that forward tutoring is a great way for struggling students to get support and for everyone to get involved in the community effort.  You may ask then, what benefits do the student tutors who give up their free time, without any compensation, receive?  In the short term, the answer is simply volunteer hours and the macro perspective of facilitating a peer’s learning to improve one’s own understanding of the subject matter.  However, if we look at longer term benefits, forward tutoring has teamed with supporting organizations and corporations that will provide internship and scholarship opportunities.

Forward Tutoring is Open for All: This concept is open for all. Since the backdrop is volunteerism, the only drive that is being considered is willingness to come forward and help, while getting educated in return. The forward tutoring project is a novel concept that is imparting a new meaning to internet tutoring and social welfare that is all tied into classroom achievement.  In the end, this project works on the basis of helping others, but consequently many of the students will in fact learn a lot more about themselves.

My Experience:  My experience with forward tutoring has been nothing but positive.  Having children become socially responsible is one of the most important aspects of my job.  Forward tutoring has given me the framework to push children into volunteering who normally would be too shy or unwilling.  Our community has also benefitted greatly.  We have teamed with two large community service projects during the program.  One is a Hungarian version of Walk the Wish and the other is a local dog shelter.  Getting participation in both of these activities is never easy, but forward tutoring makes children extend themselves in ways they never thought possible.  I’ve had several students tell me that they never imagined community service could be so much fun or rewarding.  Children want to do good all they need is a little help and direction.  Let forward tutoring help you and as a result help your entire community.

Forward tutoring is the wave of the future.  It combines technological platforms with the ideals of helping of others and peer to peer education.  Forward tutoring creates a perpetual cycle of learning, volunteering, academic success, and community betterment that will enhance the performance and self-esteem of the children we educate.