Frequently Asked Questions About Volunteering with LVGH
1. Do I need teaching experience?
No! We happily provide an extensive training workshop that prepares you for the classroom. We feel that classroom exposure is the best way to learn the in and outs of teaching, so we make sure that you get lots of it. You will have the opportunity to observe classes and then jump right in with some student teaching. When you start tutoring your own class, we’ll pair you with a seasoned tutor to show you the ropes.
If you are a teacher, we welcome you and your experience. You will be a resource to new teachers as you move through the training, and because our diverse, adult population is unique, we are sure you will learn a few new things, too!
2. I thought this was one-on-one tutoring. Why do I keep hearing about classes?
LVGH uses a small-group teaching model. As a tutor here, you will work with groups of 3-6 students, teaching weekly 2-hour class sessions. Occasionally, you may decide to meet one-on-one with a student to provide some extra help.
3. What’s the time commitment?
Continuity is important for our students, so we ask that volunteers commit to at least one full semester of tutoring (ideally one full year). You will dedicate one morning, afternoon or evening per week for a two-hour block, plus a couple of hours per week of preparation time.
4. Do I need to speak another language?
Nope. The only language requirement for our tutors is that they can read, write, and speak clear and fluent English. In fact, even in our English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, we ask that English is spoken almost exclusively. In an ESOL class, you might have students who speak six different languages, and we wouldn’t want to exclude anyone from the conversation. Plus, we firmly believe that English immersion is the absolute best way to learn the language.
5. Is there a standard curriculum, or do I have to make it up as I go along?
There is a standard curriculum for each of our classes. Whether you’re tutoring in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Basic Literacy for native English-speakers, or one of our elective courses (see About Classes), we will provide you with a curriculum and textbook. Not only does this act as a guide for your teaching, it ensures that you are teaching what the students actually need to know to be succesful.
The curricula are correlated with the state-based CASAS test with a strong emphasis on life skills. CASAS is the most widely used assessment system in the US and is used to measure the English language and literacy skills needed to function effectively in work and in life. You will find that the curriculum is practical, tangible, and easily applicable to adults’ daily lives.
While adherence to the curriculum is important, we also encourage a healthy dose of creativity. Our goal is to foster critical thinking and to engage our students in learning what is important to them, not to teach to a test. Many of our tutors choose to supplement the curriculum with other educational materials as appropriate for their particular students’ needs and interests. You can check out the “Weblinks” section of this website for some ideas.
6. Is the Tutor Training Workshop required?
Yes. Whether you have been teaching for thirty years or you’ve never taught a day in your life, we require all new tutors to participate in the training. Not only will the training prepare you to work with our unique student body, it helps acclimate you to LVGH and get to know us better (see Tutor Training Workshop description above).
7. Is there anyone to help me if I have a problem?
Always. Support is critical to the LVGH experience. Whether it’s a question about the curriculum, providing assistance to a student, how to find out if there’s a snow day, or you are having trouble with the copier, our program staff is here to help (see staff listing).
In addition to the staff, you have a built in support system of nearly 180 other tutors, many of whom will have the same questions and challenges that you may face. You will be part of a cohort of tutors during the Tutor Training Workshop, and you will meet many other tutors as you go.
8. I’d love to volunteer, but not in a classroom. Is there anything for me?
We try our best to find something for everyone, and our staff is here to help match you with the right position. Depending on the time of year, you may be able to volunteer to help students in the computer lab, help out with special events and fundraising, or assist on a committee (see position descriptions). It just depends on what our needs, and your interests and skills, are at any given time.
9. I don’t live or work in Hartford. Can I still volunteer with LVGH?
Yes! We have two other locations in Bloomfield and East Hartford, which may be more convenient for you.
10. Are there any eligibility requirements to become a LVGH volunteer?
Just two: You must be 18 or older, and you must be fluent in speaking, reading, and writing English.
11. Why do volunteers have to pay a training fee?
As a small non-profit with limited resources, we ask volunteers to contribute a nominal one-time fee of $30 to help us cover the costs of printing, food, and additional staff time associated with hosting multiple training sessions each term. It also goes towards professional development programming offered to tutors throughout the year. However, if paying this fee is a financial hardship for you, please let us know.