Academic Support: Deerfield’s Peer Tutoring and Study Skills
There often comes a time in high school when a student may need some extra help. All parents are aware that Deerfield teachers are available during the week to help students outside the classroom with extra help sessions. But many parents may not know about the extensive Peer Tutoring and Study Skills programs run by Sheryl Cabral and Julie Schloat. In a recent conversation, Sheryl and Julie described the benefits of each program and how they support Deerfield students.
There are fifteen head peer tutors working with Julie Schloat to monitor, mentor and organize ninety peer tutors who are available to Deerfield students throughout the year. Students apply to be head peer tutors at the end of sophomore or junior year, or, are recommended by their teachers at the end of the school year. During New Student Orientation, head peer tutors discuss good study habits and organizational skills and introduce students to Deerfield’s academic support programs. There are three components to peer tutoring that allows for maximum student flexibility:
Boyden Library Study Center: The first thing Deerfield students notice when arriving in the library is the large brightly colored poster that outlines library tutoring. Peer tutors are available from 7:45pm-8:45pm Sunday through Thursday. A list of peer tutors is posted online at the beginning of the school year and students can check Moodle to see who is on duty each night. Students can drop in and will find a tutor who covers every discipline; this is very convenient if a student is confused in class that day, needs clarification on a problem or can’t make a teacher’s scheduled extra-help session. Sheryl and Julie have discovered that Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays are the heavy homework nights and one of them is always in the library those evenings to help out. Sheryl notes, “Students are very comfortable coming to meet with their peers in this setting and this three-year program to support students has been a great success.”
Head tutors check-in with the peer tutors on a regular basis to talk about their group sessions and update the attendance log. Last year Julie discovered that underclassmen did not attend the library sessions as often as upperclassmen because it is hard for younger students to get to the library easily. She decided to add a “dorm” component to peer tutoring this fall.
Parents may have noticed bright green sheets posted on the outside of dorm doors this year. Upperclassmen who participate in dorm tutoring include specific times when they are available for extra help during the week. Julie explains, “It is more than likely that an Algebra II peer tutor will also be able to help with Geometry and Algebra I. This really helps us bridge the gap for underclassmen with peer tutors readily accessible for younger students in their dorms.”
This is one more component to peer tutoring where drop-in visits to the Boyden Library or dorm tutoring may not meet a student’s needs. There are several ways a student can be assigned an individual peer tutor anytime during the year. A classroom teacher may suggest a peer tutor, a student can request a peer tutor through his or her teacher or faculty advisor, or a student can email Julie directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Julie will review the subject area, free period availability and student’s grade and then forward that information to the head peer tutor who will find a good match for that student based on dorm, age, free periods and expertise in subject area. Students may request a peer tutor, although that does not guarantee a match. The head tutor will reach out to the student with a specific tutor recommendation and time and follow up with both the student and peer tutor for feedback. The advantage of one-on-one tutoring is consistency and the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with that individual over the course of the year. It is rare, but a student or tutor may request to be reassigned and should email Julie Schloat directly to facilitate this change.
Sheryl and Julie meet with students in Study Skills on a one-on-one basis during free periods throughout the week; Julie concentrates on the humanities and Sheryl focuses on math and science. Students may start Study Skills anytime during the year, but Sheryl and Julie see an influx of students each year after midterms where teachers or faculty advisors identify students who would benefit from extra attention. Some students will meet only once or twice, while others may benefit from meeting on a regular basis. According to Sheryl,” Most students at Deerfield do not need four years of Study Skills; the goal is to address the student’s needs and then usher them happily out the door.” Sheryl and Julie spend the majority of their time with underclassmen where time management and organizational skills and reading and writing skills are addressed. Study Skills can also help a student take discreet bits of information they may have memorized and apply it in a broader conceptual context. As Sheryl remarks, “This is where we see a real benefit of Study Skills.”
Peer Tutoring and Study Skills are excellent support programs available for all Deerfield students. As Julie observes, “The student volunteers really want to be there to help and it’s all about supporting students.” There is something for everyone who needs it.
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