Editor’s Note: Kelsie Burnell, who worked in my classroom as an exceptional student teacher last year, taught summer school to our Newcomers over the past five weeks. We were able to recruit an exceptional group of students to work as peer tutors with them. These tutors came from my Intermediate ELL class, as well as my IB Theory of Knowledge classes.
Here’s what they wrote about their experience (by the way, we did the same thing last summer, and you can read the reflections from those peer tutors here):
I, Jessa Flores, chose to be a peer tutor because I wanted to experience how does it felt to be one and I also wanted to help the students like me who are English learners. It’s also better to spend my summer being productive than doing nothing at home. One of the reasons why I wanted to help them is because as I helped them, I’m also learning something special about them. It’s like a give and take situation, we helped each other, side-by-side, which is a good thing for us to grow.
At first, it was hard to be a peer tutor because some students cannot speak and understand English and some of them are hyper, which is a challenge for us. But as the days went by, we got to know them and handled their attitudes by helping them with new things and vocabularies and doing some fun things like one-on-one reading and playing soccer, frisbee, baseball and stuff that they learned from Ms. Burnell’s Sports unit. My favorite part was the time of conversation (peer tutor-students talk), because it is good not only for them but for me too, to enhance our speaking skills and to practice verbally using the new English words they had been writing all day. They were sharing what they like, what are their plans for life, their favorite sports, favorite subject, favorite foods, practicing how to ask for things, and many more. A conversation like that makes students more motivated and optimistic. We also got to participate in clubs from Summer of Service where there were options like: dance club, health and wellness club, sports club, paint and music and reading club. Every week our clubs changed for us to know something different about the different options. I hope that the students have learned something about us, the peer tutors, and I hope that they will keep on their minds that they need to be mature enough to handle things and cooperate with their respective groups. Also, I can see that they are doing their best to improve their english.
It was fun to be a peer tutor because I got to make new friends with other peer tutors I had never met before, and we really were able to bond. I’m glad to be a peer tutor because if I would not have experienced the fun things in school and being able to watch the students progress in their English skills. I can say that as we gain knowledge we also gained trust and build friendships.
I chose to be a peer tutor this summer to get the 5 units, but I also wanted to learn more about the different cultures entering our school. I am heavily involved in the school community, as the student body President, and I find it important to communicate to everyone. It is essential to learn about students’ personalities and backgrounds to understand how to provide the necessary help. The more I can understand people, the better I can reach them in the school events that ASB hosts.
My biggest role as a peer tutor was providing the students with help. I corrected any grammar errors, and answered any questions they had. Everyday I would have a different student read to me and I would help them with pronunciation and definitions. Also, the peer tutors were each assigned to a group of students to have conversations about a certain topic everyday. These conversations usually lasted about 30 minutes. These conversations were usually how I paved the way to learn about their background.
My favorite part about peer tutoring was building relationships with the students. I got to learn all of their names, a bit of their background, and their ambitions. I was able to make a lot of connections and even made some friends. I think the best feeling was when i would walk in before school started to get breakfast, and some of the students would greet me. Even afterschool, the students would say wave goodbye. Another valuable part was when i would play music and would dance with the students. Every student had a lot of personality and the best part was them being comfortable to show it out. Also, a lot of students were more advanced than some others. I appreciated when they would use their own linguistic skills to help their own classmates.
Things I learned about the students were their language, culture, and background. Most of the students came from Afghanistan, and some students came from Central America, so the main languages I learned about was Farsi and Spanish. Although I already speak spanish, the spanish the students spoke consisted of different slang. It was interesting learning about the different accents and dialects from Guatemala, Columbia, El Salvador, and Honduras. Furthermore, I learned that the people of Afghanistan take religion very seriously, so all the students from there were Muslim. I learned a little about the Mosque, and about the rules they have to follow as Muslims. I found a lot of similarities between Christianity and Islam, such as they both only worship one God. I also learned about the gender differences, and how in Afghanistan women don’t have much power. It was inspiring to be able to expose them to something different and being able to gain some respect from them. Lastly, I learned about the struggles the students went through. Many of the students had to escape terrorism, gangs, and poverty.
All in all, I was extremely fortunate to have able to take part of this class. I was able to provide the students with support, while the students helped me improve my communication skills. Although the communication was a little limited, the knowledge acquisition was unlimited.
Hi, i’m Youzhi and this was my first time being a peer tutor. Honestly, at first I didn’t want to go but when Tam said that he gonna move to the another state after the first week of the summer school, he talked me into coming and experiencing it. I thought I would only come for the first week, but I never thought I can make that many new friends. The Uno game really brought us together and made us more closer and it also made me want to stay in summer school until the end.
Okay, I also want to get some experience from others for how to be a good peer tutor and how to be. In the first week of summer school we came here for learn other people’s names. And we also feel free on that day. After everyone introduced themselves, we got to go out to play frisbee and other sports. Then on the rest of the days, Ms.Burnell let the students choose the books that they would like to read. After a few minutes of reading, we would pull someone out to read with them, to help them to read and teach the words that they don’t know. It took about ten minutes for us to read with them. After that, we would go back to the class and Ms. Burnell would teach them the vocabulary. Than they have to know how to use those words in the sentence, so we help them write the sentences on their papers. Ms. burnell also taught the students about the emotions, so they can tell someone else how they feel about school and about themselves in life.
What I feel I really learned from being a peer tutor is that I was able to not only help other students learn English, but I was also able to improve my own English skills, since I am also an English Learner.
Mr. Ferlazzo discussed with my IB TOK class about the summer peer tutoring and I instantly said yes. I needed the five credits that this summer peer tutoring offered. Although I am an average student, I wanted to keep up with my credits and try something new. In the beginning, I told myself that I needed to try something new and do something that is different and challenging. Of course, this was a huge challenge but in the process of helping the students learn English, I’ve come to realize that I met new people and made a few new friends. It was a hassle to actually help the students learn only because there were times where some students didn’t follow directions. Within time, they improved on their behavior skills a bit and that’s better than nothing.
I chose to be a peer tutor because I like helping people with anything. I grew up caring for many people and I feel like as a human, it doesn’t hurt to help. Whether it’s sports, education, carrying groceries for an elderly, helping mom cook, helping dad lift objects, etc. these are the important things in life that every human being should do at least twice in their lives. Ms. Burnell did these units where they learned new things such as Emotions, Sports, and Music Instruments. She made the students write sentences based on what they learned. For example, the unit right now is about instruments, and there are certain instruments they’re learning about. With those certain instruments, they write sentences. As a peer tutor, I walked around and helped students who couldn’t figure out what sentence to write for that specific unit. They would do clozes, and sometimes when they weren’t sure if the word of their choice went there, they would ask for help. My favorite part about peer tutoring is communicating with the students. When I meet new people, I have a hard time communicating with them. Or I don’t communicate with them at all. I had to open up to the students so that they would open up to me as well. From peer tutoring the students, I learned that even though you take baby steps, you’re still learning. You can take your time and move up whenever you’re ready to. Everything works with time. With these students, I felt like with the easiest things that Ms. Burnell taught, some students caught up very well to a slightly intermediate lesson.
I’m actually very glad that I became a peer tutor. It goes to show that this is something that I am truly thankful for. This has brought me happiness and satisfaction with who I am as a person. Thank you so much for this opportunity Mr. Ferlazzo and Ms. Burnell! You both deserve the great things in your life and I wish nothing but the best for you both! 🙂
My name is Trinh and I am peer tutoring for summer school this year. I chose to be a peer tutor because I wanted to help people learn more English and also help me practice my own English, too. In summer school we were playing sports, we were practicing conversations with each other, and we were all involved in summer of service clubs. I helped the students spell new words and helped them to know what those words meant. I also helped them speak confidently when they felt shy.
My favorite parts were playing frisbee, practicing new words that we learned that day and we also joined some clubs like music, cooking, dance, books, stem and sports. For example, everyone in class went outside and stood in circle, then the frisbee holder would have to call name the person whose they wanted to throw. Another example, we have divided into groups, each group will have a conversation about life, hobbies and favorites things, but we only spoke in complete sentences in English. Ms.Burnell gave us sentence frames and questions to ask the students. That made us understand each other.
We learned new vocabulary about emotions, instruments, health and fitness, and sports. I also learned how to communicate confidently in English. I’d care to share that I made new friends and I am happy to have met them. This summer school helped me to learn a lot of things like: collective activity, how to teach using action and words, or make a lot of examples about new words.
My experience with the English learners this summer was great yet a challenge also. But I’m happy I have gotten to know some great students even the ones with a negative attitude. Sometimes I had my great days with the students and sometimes I don’t which made it difficult for me have a strong connection with them.
It was difficult to actually communicate with some of them because they didn’t know a lot of English so I tried acting it out, which just made them confused. But then the more I try to explain to them the more they kinda understood. The students sometimes didn’t listen as much to what you told them to do, because I’m a girl so they kinda just shrugged at what I asked them to do,which made me feel like I need the be more strict in order to make them listen. Another thing is that they are sometimes disrespectful. On the second day I was here for the program I got into an argument with a student. Which I learned that is because women are treated differently in their culture, so they are not used to the culture of the United States and the different roles women may have. So, I learned a lot from this summer.
I’m actually happy that I got to experience this. I’ve learned so many things, that I don’t think I would anywhere else. I learned to be more patient and be more positive. I’ve also got to learn that it isn’t easy just to teach anyone, you have to really slowly explain when you are teaching someone a new language. I have also made news friends, I wouldn’t want to spend my summer any other way.
I joined the peer tutoring summer school program, so I can help those who have trouble speaking english. I also wanted to have an experience of being a peer tutor, and learn what it would take to be one. One thing I’ve learned is that you have to be really patient with the students. As a peer tutor I had to listen to the students read and help them understand what the word means. I also helped the students with their essays; how to spell a word, how to make the sentence make sense, and what the word meant uin order for them to use them. We also created small groups, and in each group had a peer tutor. The peer tutor was to have conversations in english or say a sentence and have them write it down.
Being a peer tutor was a challenge because it was difficult trying to communicate with the students because they speak a different language, and know very little english. Also with the fact that they were raised in a different environment, so it will be a little bit difficult to be comfortable around here. When it comes to reading or writing on their own it becomes more easier to work with them, but everytime they were with their friends they just wanted to talk and have fun. So, as a peer tutor I had to work with them individually, even when we were in groups, because when they were working individually they were more focused on learning.
What I liked about being a peer tutor was being able to learn about their background culture. I was also able to learn how to say something in their language. Also some of the students were easy to connect with and build a friendship with. We also got to learn more about what the students like and did not like. I also enjoyed being able to talk to some of the students when it wasn’t time to learn.
This summer I had spent my time helping other students who need help with speaking, reading, and writing in English. Spending about 5 weeks with them I had learned many new things from and about them and it had also strengthened a flaw of mine. But spending my time here during the summer at school there were some pros and cons to it.
Some pros about spending time here at school are I’m being active and using my time wisely to help others that really want to improve on their English. I also have the chance to learn more about the student’s culture and their background. Being able to learn about their culture and background I was able to be more open-minded about it. Also, I have the chance to speak to other students, whom I thought I would never speak to and there was this bond I had with some of the peer tutors too. I had classes with some of the peer tutors but I never talked to them and I’m glad that this summer I was able to get to know them and talk to them. Being able to spend time with the students strengthened a flaw of mine – learning how to be patient. At times they do not listen at all and I really want to yell at them, but I would always tell myself to be patient with them.
Some of the cons of being here during the summer are I had to work out my schedule with my family. It’s summer, so my family had planned for events to go to and I wasn’t really able to do it and spend time with them this summer. Sometimes when they plan for stuff to do it’s usually at night and my family would stay out late. So I wasn’t able to go out with them due to school the next day. Also, this summer I didn’t really have the chance to see my friends, but hopefully the rest of my summer I can. Another con that I had was waking up early in the morning to come to school. Sometimes I struggle to wake up in the morning due to staying up at night, but I still manage to be able to come to school.
Overall, this summer I had learned many new things from the students and I’m glad that I was able to do peer tutoring. It shows me that it’s not easy being a teacher and I should be thankful for all my teacher. I also was able to be active this summer, even though I had to miss many events with my family.
I chose to be a peer tutor because I like to help other people and I know how it feels when people speak to you in another language and you do not understand what they are talking about, or even when people try to explain you.
I try to help more the spanish speakers because that is my first language. When the class started, I would take one student to read for 10 minutes and if they can’t say the word correctly, I would say it for them and they would repeat it.