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  • Writer's pictureLasha Pierce MD

What's Tutoring Got To Do With It!

The tutoring gap among African American students is a cousin to the achievement gap.

The issue is not just that access to academic tutoring improves outcomes, but that who is doing

the actual tutoring gives a silent endorsement of intelligence, ability and worth to that person or

the group from which they come.

Therefore, it is important that African American students,

many of whom carry psychological trauma inflicted by the education system, have access to competent tutors from the communities from which they are from. This reflection of intelligence, ability and self worth can go a long way to begin to heal the previous damaging narratives absorbed from prior academic neglect.

One of the core programs of AFRE (The Academy for Restorative Education) is the Teen

Tutoring Program (TTP), a free tutor training program for community youth. We actively seek out partnerships with other community organizations serving vulnerable youth to enhance attempts at building equity in education.

By teaching effective tutoring techniques coupled with Restorative practice,

the AFRE TTP seeks to:

Provide tools for youth to participate in the teaching and healing of community

Empower youth with economic and leadership opportunities with paid tutoring positions within AFRE post training.

Place educational reparations, dismantling institutional racism and social justice into the

conversation about teaching and learning.

Our tutor training curriculum/program is for youth ages 14-18 years. Tutors are provided 20 hours of classroom training, followed by the opportunity to complete 4 weeks of hands on trainings on weekends if desired. At the end of the completion of the hands on training, tutors are provided a $100 stipend and an AFRE Tutoring Certification. In addition to learning basic tutoring techniques, tutor trainees learn the basic concepts of social justice, restorative practice and institutional racism.

Components of the training include:

A. Opportunities for teen tutors to talk about what happened to them in past experiences with

education and how it has affected them, with the intent of correlating/comparing their

experiences with that of those they will be tutoring.

(Question: Could students in need of tutoring have background avoidance behaviors rooted in prior educational neglect that then shaped their view of themselves, their study habits and desire to learn?)

B. Opportunities to proactively build relationships, a sense of community and solve problems

together (academic and social)

C. Training in restorative practice, social justice and institutional racism.

D. Training in effective tutoring strategies including best practices in tutoring students of color

E. Giving the students “restorative” language to express their observations, desires and

distress around education to use in their own experiences but also to teach to those they tutor (i.e. a student is feeling frustrated by never being called on by the teacher when their hand is up: what language could you give them to help them accurately and sincerely communicate the perceived offense and the remedy?)

F. Help teen tutors identify what a responsive classroom looks like and how to advocate for it’s development when it is absent.

G. Help them identify and understand zero-tolerance policies, their origin and harm produced.(in a restorative framework: i.e. balancing safety and order with restorative practice)

H. Teach resilience in face of racism.

The battle to heal the academic wounds of the past is well underway, and our cohort of trained tutors will aid in that battle. Justice Warriors Unite!

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