Tutor services adapt to COVID-19

Tutors find way to keep students engaged despite new safety guidelines

written By: grace hamilton, guest writer
Newswire photo by Desmond Fischer
As COVID-19 challenges arise, tutors are finding effective ways they can connect with and engage students.

The Office of Academic Support (OAS) has switched over to almost entirely virtual tutoring to adapt to the needs of social distancing.

It has been a big change for newcomers, like first year tutor Lexi Acierto, and head tutors, like Macey Windley,.  

 “I was prepared coming in – as prepared as I could be,” Windley said of how she and the OAS planned for a semester of tutoring almost entirely online. 

Throughout the summer, Windley and Academic Support met on Zoom, emailed one another and had sessions to ready themselves for the changes taking place. 

In Windley’s opinion, it paid off. “It’s definitely taken a lot of stress off people in the Office of Academic Support,” she mentions, describing the new way to schedule sessions. “The current system for scheduling tutoring is provided by the Education Advisory Board (EAB), and it is a welcomed replacement for the previous method, which was one person in the office handling hundreds of appointments alone. Now, students can go and schedule times for themselves.”

Acierto also believes certain aspects of virtual tutoring are easier, especially for the students. She mentions how it may be preferable for students to join sessions from their dorms and leave the sessions just as comfortably. 

However, there is a problem that comes with joining in from the dorm, and it has been encountered by tutors and teachers alike. Engaging with students over Zoom sessions can be difficult ; Acierto describes a regular session as 30 students on a call, five to six with their cameras on, and at most, 10 participating. 

But both Acierto and Windley do their best to interact with students. Whether it be by sending worksheets out in advance, screen-sharing, using diagrams, visual aids or even Kahoot. 

While Acierto and Windley both admitted to preferring in-person tutoring over the new digital format, they still recommend virtual tutoring for students who wish to utilize the academic support resources OAS has to offer. 

According to Windley, the option of virtual tutoring is here to stay. “There is certainly a convenience to virtual tutoring…with new ways of scheduling and the advantage of using Zoom to meet,” Windley said. 

Despite the changes, the OAS is looking for ways to put their best foot forward. Windley and Acierto give credit to Xavier for all of the resources provided and the efforts to make this change as painless as possible for tutors and students. 

This doesn’t guarantee a semester free from challenges. Acierto admits “It felt like a sink or swim moment.” In fact, “sink or swim” could be used to describe the whole year: online classes, social distancing, quarantining, wearing masks.”

Students looking to take advantage of Tutoring services can fill out the intake form on the academic support web page.