English Language Support Continues as Oakland Literacy Council Tutors Online

Second Language Program Continues as Oakland Literacy Council Tutors Online

(OLC, March 25, 2020)

OLC tutor Turesa Lewis thinks Zoom videoconferencing is “pretty straightforward” and has good options for virtual tutoring sessions.

Social distancing? Libraries closed? What would that mean for the 200 Oakland Literacy Council (OLC) volunteer tutors who are teaching adults throughout Oakland County?

For Turesa Lewis, it means doubling down on her commitment to her students. Turesa, a Southfield resident recently retired from AT&T, has been a volunteer tutor with OLC since 2014. Normally she meets in person each week with her two students, one who is an advanced English language learner and the other who is an adult basic education student.

Without the option to meet face to face, Turesa is adapting and learning new technologies so her students can keep learning. Turesa was one of over 70 tutors who attended recent OLC training sessions to learn to use Zoom to meet virtually with students.

Turesa, who has a passion for writing, reflected on the challenge ahead:

“CRISIS: Danger and Opportunity” – This was shared on one of our training calls last week and really touched me. The crisis has presented an unknown danger that has led our leaders to direct us all to stay home. As a tutor with the Oakland Literacy Council, I find this is a great opportunity for me to serve others. In this time of uncertainty, face-to-face tutoring is no longer exercised. I miss meeting with both my students every day. Yes, I have two students that I have committed myself to each week. Yet I’m embracing this new opportunity to learn and expand my knowledge of using digital tools. The Zoom app is new to many of us and has lots of bells and whistles. This is overwhelming and exciting. Now that we are stuck in the house, why not take this opportunity to use the tools provided and connect with our students to continue to give them the same level of service as we once did when we met with them face to face? One day we will all look back at this time and remember how well we moved past this.”

Turesa knows firsthand that remote learning can also be challenging for students. One of her students goes to a neighbor’s house to work on the computer because she doesn’t have her own. Turesa explains, “Each time I send her an e-mail, I have to call her to be sure that she receives it.”

Turesa is fortunate to have solid technical skills she developed in her professional life.
She encourages those who are less comfortable with technology to look for tutorials. “In most cases, the tutorials are designed to get you through it.”

She has some extra advice for her peers: “Baby boomers, don’t be afraid to reach out to those millennials who can whip through this technology!”

Learn more about the Oakland Literacy Council at http://www.oaklandliteracy.com/.

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