Monthly Archives: June 2015

Kickball for All!

Kickball for All 2015 was a smashing success!   This year’s event was multi-generational with players ranging from toddlers to tutors to T4A supporters!  And we hit our goal of being able to fund 1000 hours of tutoring for Boston Youth!  That’s definitely a record!  If you weren’t able to make it out on Saturday or if you would like to relive the day, here’s a rundown of the event!

The TeamsThis year, we saw a few familiar teams out on the field along with some new ones.  The Test-Takers were back and ready for the competition under the fearless leadership of Andy, Shane, and Bryan.  The Young Tobins (Youngbloods and Team Tobin) had an incredible representation of four Tobin Tutors thanks to the triumphant leadership of Soriya. The Oldies but Codmans (Oldies but Goodies and Codman Squared) threw us a curveball with two of their players on the field under 5 years old and some wise leadership from Mark Destler and Liam Day.  And last, but not least, Team Rainbow brought us many surprises under the shining leadership of Jennifer Zavala and Naomi Muchiri.

Kickball could not have been successful without our hardworking Team Captains. They not only fearlessly led their team on the field, but they also led them through a successful fundraising campaign on Crowdrise. They also brought lots of spirit to the stands and field!

The Champions

Team SpiritThis year, we wanted to encourage lots of positive energy on the field and in the stands so we introduced the Kickball for All Spirit Award for the first time ever.  We asked all the Teams to come up with a cheer and Team Tobin truly blew us out of the water with their cheer and positive spirit throughout the whole afternoon.  We were very excited to be able to present the award to their team.

 

Bridge Builder AwardThis competition may have been the fiercest of the three.  The Bridge Builder Award is given out every year to the team that raises the most funds for Tutors for All. The Test Takers were neck and neck with The Oldies but Goodies in the weeks and days leading up to Kickball for All.  The Test Takers made an impressive leap on the day of the competition raising $1300 on Saturday and jumping ahead of The Oldies but Goodies to win the coveted trophy!

Tournament ChampionsThe championship game was between The Young Tobins and Team Rainbow

Some quotes from the attendees

“Everyone was in good spirits, and it was really heartening to see how much certain community members care about what T4a does. For some reason I wasn’t expecting that level of excitement and commitment from the older folk” -Maria Cassidy, Tutor Extraordinaire

“Thank you for a good time for a good cause.” -Brian Leblanc

And finally…a word from our sponsors!

We would like to wholeheartedly thank our sponsors who gave at all levels.

Element #2 of Highly Effective Tutorial: Professionalization of Tutors (Treat Your Tutors Like Teachers)

  1. For eight years running, Tutors for All programs have achieved jaw-dropping results for Boston kids and the organizations that serve them.

How have our programs accomplished this?  While each program in our history has its own unique story, we believe that seven key elements unite them and offer a road map to follow.MGH Spring 2014 Report

  1. High Quality Oversight
  2. Professionalization of Tutors
  3. 1:1 or 1:2 Ratios
  4. Balanced Collaboration and Autonomy
  5. Regular Assessment and Progress Monitoring
  6. Tutors for All (not Some)
  7. Leveraged Subsidies for Service

Over the next few months, we’ll be spending some time discussing each of them.  Our goal: a conversation among experts and beginners on how effective programs can work.

Today’s topic: Professionalization of Tutors

Tutors for All treats tutors as teachers, and teachers are professionals. Tutors are expected to dress professionally, attend every single tutorial and communicate professionally about absences. They are held accountable for their own lesson planning and expected to continually perfect their practice. We are invested in developing tutors as thoughtful and skilled educators who feel confident in their ability to deliver content.

In order to professionalize our tutors in this way we focus on comprehensive pre-program training, prioritizing reflection, planning and feedback and creating opportunities for growth with the organization.

The Tobin Team of Lead Tutors

The Tobin Team of Lead Tutors

Prior to tutorial tutors are trained in 6 key areas:

  • Student Accountability
  • Professionalism
  • Curriculum
  • Pedagogy
  • Collaboration
  • Cultural Competency

This kind of depth of training sets the expectation that tutors are not only skilled in their subject area, but also well versed in student engagement, effective pedagogy and creative lesson planning. Tutors continue to receive professional development in all 6 areas throughout the semester during the reflection time built into Tutors For All’s programming. Professional development lessons have included positive framing, making math games meaningful and relationship building with students.

We additionally create a culture of reflection, planning and feedback by setting aside preparation and reflection time and observing tutors at work. Tutors arrive 30 minutes before tutorial in order to spend time preparing for their daily lesson. Tutors will use this time to review content, create expansion materials or troubleshoot a challenging student behavior with a co-worker. This built in time requires tutors to plan thoughtful, engaging lessons that meet their students’ needs.

Emily MGHFollowing tutorial, tutors spend 30 minutes reflecting on their lesson or developing skills in one of the 6 T4A focus areas. During this debriefing time, tutors have the opportunity to receive feedback, share highs and lows and collaboratively problem solve with their peers. Debriefing questions have included, “What have you learned about your student’s learning habits and how you are going to modify your lesson plan to accommodate their specific needs?” This practice holds tutors accountable to continued improvement of their practice.

One way we prioritize feedback is by holding individual conferences once a semester to discuss tutors’ strengths and areas for growth. In these meetings tutors have a chance to set professional development goals as well as give the Program Manager feedback about the program. Andreas Wolfe, lead tutor at Tobin, wrote the following about a tutor’s strengths: “she consistently uses inquiry based learning—she does not provide her student with the answers, instead questioning him to figure out the answers himself.” Another tutor received the following area for growth:  he can change the tone and pace of instruction to be more engaged and enthusiastic about material.” This kind of targeted observation and feedback helps us hold our tutors to high standards as professional educators.

Tutors for All is a program that offers a variety of professional growth opportunities for tutors. Former tutors have been promoted to lead tutors, coordinators, curriculum specialists and managers. In these positions tutors are able to gain leadership and facilitation experience as undergraduate students.

Our tutors are professional educators. We work hard to set high expectations, develop their skills and show them they are valued with leadership opportunities.

Hannah DeAngelis, Program Manager

A Farewell Interview with Hannah and Liz

In the last week, we said goodbye to two of our Staff Members: Hannah DeAngelis and Liz Marshall, who are off to new adventures.  Before they left, we had the opportunity to talk with them about their experience working at Tutors for All.

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Hannah and Liz at Kickball for All on Saturday

What has your role been at T4A?

Hannah: “I have been the Program Manager for the Tobin and YMCA programs.”

Liz: “I have been the Tutor Support Coordinator managing tutor recruitment, marketing, and tutor support for the organization.”

What drew you to work with Tutors for All this past year?

Hannah: “I was looking for a position where I could be a partner to schools and get to build meaningful relationships with both adults and students. As a former classroom teacher, I really believe in the power of building one on one relationships in order for students to get the academic and personal support they need. I really believe in T4A’s ability to provide this support through tutor/student partnerships.”

Liz: “After being accepted into the Life Together program (a social justice fellowship for young adults based out of the Episcopal Church) last Spring, I interviewed with several justice focused organizations in the Boston area.  In college, I studied education and worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Through both of those experiences, I saw the importance of individualized academic and emotional support for kids and working at Tutors for All seemed like the perfect fit for my interests!  T4A’s model of instruction really excited me from the beginning and has continued to impress me throughout the year.”

Do you have a favorite moment from this year?

Hannah

Hannah

Hannah: “One of our Tobin tutors worked with a middle school student all year who presented some challenges in terms of attendance, skill level and attitude. The tutor showed up every single day and was consistently positive and encouraging towards his student, regardless of her demeanor or tendency to skip class. When asked to list her tutor’s strengths on the end of semester evaluation this student wrote, ‘he doesn’t give up on me.'”

Liz:  “As the person who was in charge of tutor recruitment and marketing for the organization, it was really important that I understand our tutoring programs and one of the best ways to do that was by tutoring at Tobin.  This spring, I worked with an 8th Grade Tobin student named Jean who struggled with his multiplication tables so we started practicing and timing them every day.  Our goal was to be able to do 25 multiplication tables in under five minutes.  On the first day, it took him 11 minutes to get through 25 multiplication problems.  By the third day, he did 25 tables in 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  He told me that he had gone home and practiced them over and over so that we would be able to reach our goal.  And that put a huge smile on my face!”

How do you think you have grown working with us? Have you learned anything about education or working at a non-profit?

Hannah: “I have absolutely grown in my management abilities. I have learned a lot about how to build strong teams of tutors who are excited about developing their skills as educators and learning from each other.”

Liz

Liz

Liz:  “I have grown so much in my ability to communicate and manage several different projects at once.  It has been so valuable to understand all the different aspects that go into running a non-profit and have had hands-on experience working on many of them.”

 

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

Hannah: “Dance with my lovely Spontaneous Celebrations dance folks. And hike around in the best home state in world, Maine.”

Liz:  “As part of the Life Together program, I live in intentional community. And I absolutely love when our community cooks and eats delicious food together every week!  I also love to sing, dance, kick-box and have recently gotten into Pilates.”

What are your plans and goals for the next chapter of your lives?

Hannah: “I am in the middle of a move to Maine to be the Assistant Program Director of Refugee and Immigration Services, a huge shift for me and a position where I will put those management skills into practice! 5 year plan I am looking to be in schools for the long haul, either as a counselor or social worker.”

Liz: “I am staying on for a second year in the Life Together program as an Emmaus Fellow, which means that I will work part-time doing capacity building for Life Together as an organization (specifically fundraising) while working almost full-time at St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church in Quincy.  St. C’s houses the Episcopal Chinese Cultural Center for Boston so I am going to be spending some time teaching there along with working for the church itself.  I’m discerning whether I want to go to school for a dual Masters in Social Work and Divinity so this will be an awesome opportunity to explore that.”