Getting to Know Your Tutee

We know how difficult it may be to get through to your student, especially when you’re both new to tutoring. Thankfully, The Corporation for National and Community Service came up with these great icebreaker tips to help you get to know your student in a way that respects boundaries and is literary-focused!

Continue reading “Getting to Know Your Tutee”


Addressing Violence in Student Writing

Staff and volunteers at training
Staff and volunteers at the “Vol/loquium: Violence in Student Writing” training at 826CHI.

Picture this common scene from nearly any 826CHI program: you are working with a student on a story, bouncing ideas back and forth. The story could be something made up from their own imagination, or it could be a personal memory they want to explore on the page. Just when the story gets to the point where conflict begins to bubble up, the student makes a suggestion that you think is a little too violent.

As a volunteer, you might have been in this situation before, and for many of us, it’s difficult to navigate the use of violence in a student’s writing. Continue reading “Addressing Violence in Student Writing”

Helping or Cheating? An Everyday Tutor’s Dilemma

by Sarah Stark


Where is the line between helping a student with his homework and doing it for him? That’s the difficulty. We can point out similar triangles in a math problem, but how far can we guide a student without feeling like we are doing all the work? And, even more pressing, what if he asks for too much? How can we recognize this, and how do we say no? This is a problem every tutor faces at some point, and it is difficult to find exactly where the line is and to decide, in spite of a student’s huge pleading eyes, not to cross it. Continue reading “Helping or Cheating? An Everyday Tutor’s Dilemma”

Reading with the Reluctant

by Mike Hernandez

reading time!

After school tutors know that reading can occasionally be a hard sell.  Before students come in to tutoring, they’ve spent six or so hours in front of books, more or less on task.  I try to remember that all the time, but especially during reading rally–maybe even more than during writing time.  Some students come in ready.  One might just want me to mind my own book for twenty minutes while he enjoys his, while another might give my personal reading a funny look and then say something like “okay, I’m going to read The BFG to you now. Are you paying attention, or what?”  (That happened. It was delightful, and I wish I could sheepishly put my book away and listen to her read Roald Dahl every afternoon.  Obviously.) Continue reading “Reading with the Reluctant”

Interesting Student Disinterest


By Rajiv Haque

Let’s face it, some kids don’t like school. Even if they do like school, they still pretend like they hate the magical land of learning. More specifically, students, like all humanoid creatures, have subjects they like and dislike. As a creative writing center, one of the primary challenges we face is engaging students to write. As tutors, that challenge further filters through to the homework we assist kids with. Is it our job to make a kid like writing? Math? Underwater basket weaving? If it is our job, how far do we push it before we risk alienating the child and becoming yet another fish in the vast sea of authoritative adults in their lives? Continue reading “Interesting Student Disinterest”

I’m Not a “Math Person”

2306958.main_imageby Shannon Monson

More often than not when I try to enlist friends to volunteer I am met with this reaction: “I am so terrible at math! I wouldn’t be able to help kids with their homework.”  I felt the same apprehension before I started tutoring. Long division? Multiplying fractions? No thanks! But once you get started you quickly realize that those fears were silly, and the homework isn’t all that intimidating. Here are a few tips for helping students with math, when you are not so confident in your own abilities. Continue reading “I’m Not a “Math Person””