With the start of a new year and the beginning of another session of programs, reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of our team and our programs has been very important. As a team, our goal is to be in a constant state of innovation and improvement. In order to be moving forward, we found the act of looking back and evaluating what we should continue to do and what should change to be an effective exercise.
Here are some of the reflections from our Organizational Team Leaders in Kitchener-Waterloo:
Practical Impacts on Learners
The obvious impact was that the kids were able to complete their homework. Another positive impact was the fact that many of the tutors created meaningful relationships with certain learners. This encouraged the learners to come back every week and created a positive space where they could complete their homework (something that may not be present at home).
I think the biggest thing I learned this year was patience. Many of the kids, through no fault of their own, do not want to spend 2 hours of their evening twice a week to come to homework club. Many of the kids would become impatient and uninterested in their homework at about the halfway point of the evening. Trying to find something entertaining or keeping them on task was difficult at times as we often didn't have games to play with them or they simply just wanted to go home. Patience was key at these times while I tried to find things to do with the kids (and tutors).
Adam, SCAWR OT
Rachel, High School Homework Club OT
One of the biggest challenges that we faced at St. David’s homework program is the commitment of volunteer tutors. Over the course of the year, the number of volunteers decreased as it was difficult to balance their other commitments. To alleviate the lack of tutors available for help, it may help to over-assign volunteer tutors to programs. The volunteers who demonstrated commitment by attending every program have shown wonderful dedication to their learners.
In past years, St. David’s Homework Program was known to have low learner turnout. With the help of the school administration, promotion during events like parent-teacher night and grade 8 night have increased the presence of Frontier College in the Kitchener-Waterloo community. This has greatly increased our learner turn out during programs, in which many students have incorporated it into their weekly routine.
I learned that you can trick kids into learning math by turning the learning process into a game! A lot of learners don't like math because it's too abstract and it's hard to see how it's even going to be useful. Worst of all, it's taught in such a boring manner: mountains of worksheets. By getting them to build math skills through playing games, we can slowly trick them into learning math and seeing where it applies in real life.
Tutoring kids at the middle and high-school level really forced me to come up with concise and understandable explanations for fundamental math and science concepts which actually helped me better understand them. Communicating science, especially research results, is a very hard skill to pick up but I feel like talking about science to learners helps me somewhat practice this skill regularly and will definitely help me out if I end up becoming a scientist of any kind.
Ali, Math Buddies OT
Practical Impacts on Learners
We had one little boy (Basheer) at YMCA FLL who told us when we asked him how he liked coming to program and working with Jasper who said “I love it – he is the best tutor ever!” it was really sweet and it was so great to know that he was having fun doing his ESL homework.
We had 5 weeks of solid attendance and the kids were overall really excited to come – and the tutors had great attendance and did really good work – so I think having a program run smoothly, and have returning learners and volunteers is an accomplishment in itself.
Kandace, Family Language and Learning OT
With these reflections, it will be exciting to see how our programs develop and change in the coming months. With our focus on creating positive and safe learning spaces, this semester is already starting off wonderfully.