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Calgary parents thankful for U of C volunteer tutors amid classroom closures due to COVID-19

Calgary parents thankful for U of C volunteer tutors: ‘It definitely helped our relationship’
WATCH: University of Calgary education students are stepping up to fill the gap created by classroom closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.
Alberta classrooms have been vacant since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some students have been progressing through remote learning, others have been struggling, and so have their parents.
Now, 224 bachelor of education undergraduates at the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education have stepped up and are volunteering to tutor students in need of extra help amid the ongoing pandemic.
The undergraduates have been matched up to tutor more than 400 kindergarten to grade 12 students throughout the province.
“I think it’s really important not just for the K to 12 students, but I also think it helps out the parents a bit,” associate dean with the undergraduate programs in education at the U of C’s Werklund School of Education, Amy Burns said.
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“For students… it just gives them one more person to be able to connect with if they are having some struggles or challenges.”
Alberta cuts $128M in K-12 education funding to boost COVID-19 response
Alberta cuts $128M in K-12 education funding to boost COVID-19 response
Jenny Yuen is a preservice teacher who has been volunteering as a tutor for a month now. She said that her students have benefited from the one-on-one sessions.

“I feel like in scenarios when you have 20 or 30 kids it’s great that they all get to interact with each other and you get to build your lesson plans based on the whole group’s needs,” Yeun said. “But when it comes to one-on-one, they get a say on what we are going to do today or for the next couple of lessons.

“So just giving students the autonomy as to what they want to learn — I think that has been a really powerful experience for the students.”

Denise McAlpine, a mother from Airdrie, says her 11-year-old son is now excited about remote learning after receiving lessons from his U of C tutor.
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“It definitely helped our relationship,” she said. “I learn differently than he does, so we were kind of butting heads a bit on what that looks like.
“The tutor adapted how he was presenting the content and really worked on the level of what my son needed — where I wasn’t necessarily able to provide that.”
Burns noted that it’s important to listen to students’ needs when considering if the tutoring program is right for them.
“I don’t know that I would recommend it for everybody,” Burns said.
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“I think sometimes we forget to ask the student what they think would be really helpful. So that would be my recommendation, to sit down and have a good discussion with your learner about what they think might help.”
Each tutor is assigned up to four students which they meet virtually for up to three hours a week.
The preservice teachers will continue to volunteer their services until classes are over this school year. While the future of the project is unclear past the end of the spring semester, officials noted that the program may continue throughout the summer and into the fall.