Lesson 2 - Adult Literacy in Illinois Illinois State Library

Characteristics of Effective Volunteer Tutors

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Is the role of the adult literacy volunteer tutor the right one for you?

The role of an adult literacy volunteer tutor is multi-faceted. Many times, you will have great success with your adult learner. Those success stories are wonderful. On the other hand, some adult learners may not reach their goals. Teenagers and adult non-readers often have many obstacles to overcome. They may come to the tutoring experience after having experienced many educational failures. The learners who face these barriers may find success with your guidance. As an adult literacy volunteer tutor, you will significantly impact the life of your adult learner.

While the primary concern of adult literacy agencies is to support the adult learner, you will be a more successful adult literacy tutor if your volunteer experience is rewarding. Before beginning, we recommend that you consider carefully whether becoming an adult literacy tutor is the right fit for you. There are other types of volunteer opportunities available in your community and in the literacy agency. In order to decide if becoming an adult literacy volunteer tutor is right for you, complete the following Tutor Self-Assessment. Consider the following survey questions. You will not be able to complete this survey online. The survey is meant as a tool for you as you think about becoming a tutor.

Adult Literacy Volunteer Tutor Self-Assessment Survey

  1. Do I enjoy meeting and working with people?
  2. Am I really committed to adult literacy tutoring?
  3. Do I enjoy challenges?
  4. Am I patient?
  5. Am I motivated to learn from others as well as teach?
  6. Do I enjoy reading?
  7. Do I enjoy writing?
  8. Am I able to communicate clearly and effectively?
  9. Am I flexible and creative?
  10. Am I able to respect the confidentiality of my student's confidences?

Now that you have completed the survey, what types of characteristics and skills did you see listed? Communication, Motivation, Patience, Commitment, Flexibility, Creativity, and Enjoyment.

These are the foundation of becoming a successful and effective volunteer literacy tutor. You did not have to say YES to every question. However, if you have said NO to at least half of the questions, you may wish to consult with your adult literacy agency and discuss the results of the self-assessment.

The characteristics listed are crucial to the success of the tutoring process. As you enter the tutoring process, you will need to tap into these qualities to assist your adult learner to reach their potential.

Remembering your most memorable teacher - Reflective Activity

Take a minute to reflect on a positive learning experience with a teacher in your past, and then answer the following questions.

  1. What characteristics made this teacher memorable?
  2. What characteristics did they demonstrate that you would most like to incorporate into your tutoring experiences?
  3. Consider the survey you just completed. Which characteristics mentioned did the teacher exhibit?

Compose an email to your trainer. Put the title, Remembering your most memorable teacher - Reflective Activity, in the subject line. Copy and paste the questions into the body of the email. Then type in your answers and send it. Completing this assignment is a requirement of your training. Your trainer will respond to you through email.