As I’m writing this blog post, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the future of education for elementary and secondary school students during the next several months. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the usual way in which students are taught in educational institutions. This disruption in learning can be especially detrimental to grade 11 and 12 students aiming to receive a university education in the near future. Grade 11 students will be unprepared for some grade 12 courses, if they are to fall behind in their learning now, while grade 12 students will be unprepared for some of the courses that they will be taking in their first year of university. At this time, the goal is for students to not fall behind and avoid significant gaps in their knowledge as they move to a higher grade or go on to study at a postsecondary institution.
Stephen Lecce, the minister of education, has announced that students are encouraged to use the educational resources on the new Learn at Home website (https://lah.elearningontario.ca/). By examining the courses that are offered so far, it appears that many of the Ontario courses that students are currently enrolled in at school are not accessible at this point and are coming soon. Little is known about when the majority of Ontario courses will be online. Mr. Lecce also mentioned that there will be TVO tutors on hand to support students, but it is unlikely that TVO employs thousands of tutors that will be necessary to meet student demand.
In the next few weeks, it is likely that some public and private schools will transition to online learning. Students will be expected to go through curriculum without the same degree of teacher direction and support that they previously received when they were in a physical classroom. For this reason, students would greatly benefit from one-on-one instruction that a tutor could offer. The role of the tutor would be to assess each student’s level of understanding and to fill in any gaps in knowledge that may result from independent learning. The tutor could also guide students through the curriculum.
I’ve transitioned to tutoring all my students online as an alternative to meeting my students in person in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 within our community. I’m looking to take on new students because of the additional time that I have available during the day since the school I work at is closed for the foreseeable future. I have several years of experience tutoring students online. I have the technology and resources available to me that can make tutoring students online just as effective as having a session in person. I hold online sessions over Zoom and Skype. Skype has come along way when it comes to connectivity. Over the last couple weeks, I have noticed minimal connectivity issues and the video and audio quality has been good with both platforms. I have a Surface Pro device with a stylus and the Microsoft Office suite of applications. I use OneNote to write on documents and share my screen with students, so they are able to see what I’m writing. I also share resources that I use during sessions with my students. I have taught the courses that I tutor in the past, so I have accumulated learning resources for all the courses that I offer tutoring in, such as course packs, worksheets, quizzes, and tests.
I have also been going over the IB and AP curriculum with some of my students. I have students that are planning on writing AP exams next May that have already begun studying for them ahead of time. I’m helping them get a head start on all the content that they have to cover and learn over the next year by guiding them through the material. Fortunately, the technology that we have at our disposable has allowed for us to continue to stay connected and for learning to go on.