Both tutor and student are young women with dreams.
Tutor Julie Molnar is in the middle of a career change. A student at Oakland University, she is studying for a master’s degree in teaching with a focus on English Language Learning (ELL). Her degree focuses on K-12 education, but, through tutoring at Oakland Literacy Council, she has developed a love for teaching adults and “the authentic relationship” she develops with them.
Student Evelyn Ascencios immigrated to the United States from Peru, where she studied nutrition. Currently, she works at a gourmet grocery store but looks forward to enrolling in school to become a medical assistant. Julie describes Evelyn as a motivated learner who “knows her stuff.”
Julie and Evelyn had been meeting every Friday at the West Bloomfield Township Library until libraries closed due to the pandemic.
However, the tutor-student team isn’t letting social distancing deter them from their dreams. Julie and Evelyn continue meeting each Friday using Zoom video conferencing. Julie notes that they actually have more learning time because no time is spent finding a room at the library and getting settled. “We can start right at the beginning,” she says.
Julie also believes that, for tutors who like a lot of structure, “this [remote meetings] actually helps you maintain more structure because they can see your screen and they can see the objectives.”
With Julie’s encouragement, Evelyn is also brushing up on her professional interviewing and conversation skills. Evelyn has joined a new Oakland Literacy Council conversation group (also virtual) focused on career readiness.
Remote learning is not without its challenges. Julie finds that it can be harder to check if Evelyn understands the lesson because computer response can be slow at times. Evelyn misses the face-to-face contact. But Julie and Evelyn are working through the challenges together.
After the second virtual meeting, Julie felt “in two words – more confident.”
She has these words of advice for tutors who may be anxious about remote meetings:
“ The overarching lesson learned is to keep the end goal in mind. If you both talk explicitly about the challenges you may face technologically up front, when they do happen, neither of you feel bad/worried. You just problem solve together, and continue onward to both your goal of bettering the student’s English in a way that is meaningful to them.”
Evelyn describes Julie as “the best teacher ever” who “always solves my problems.” Together they are turning problems into opportunities.