A term used to describe the generation that grew up with Starbucks as part of their lives, the “Starbucks generation” generally includes Gen Zs and millennials who are willing to spend a little extra for good products, customer service and experiences. They love to go into a Starbucks, pull out their laptops and get work done in a social atmosphere.
The same impulses characterize their engagement in the educational arena, where online tutoring helps bridge the gap between classroom and independent learning. For the student studying late at night who may not feel comfortable asking questions out loud in class, for example, online tutoring provides a comfortable support structure. It also works very well for the student who wants to be able to use SMS texting to interact with a tutor.
Our district is using Tutor.com, and the following five important factors went into our decision on the best way to reach the Starbucks generation with online tutoring.
Put your students first
My motivation is to help my students. In fact, “Students First, Always in All Ways” is our tagline. When we’re selecting a new technology tool or resource, our first priority is to ensure that the resource delivers a high level of value, along with the results and support that we need. Our new tutoring partner helps me put my students and their needs first — and above all else.
Introduce students to after-hours answers
Tutoring is a major component of after-school time because we know that students don’t always “get it” when they’re sitting in a classroom. They need additional help and support to be able to grasp and apply the concepts they’ve been taught. Our tutoring platform offers that extra level of assurance that students will be supported and get their questions answered after school hours.
Use a student-informed strategy
We want to make sure that our strategy for providing — and promoting — equitable academic support is informed by students’ needs, wants and behaviors. For instance, we’re building awareness about our tutoring program on social media and on our local television stations, all with the goal of getting the most out of our investment — both for students who would naturally turn to online tutoring for help and for students who have lacked the resources to receive tutoring support in the past.
Track your progress
We monitor the reports on usage and have even considered having competitions in schools to pump up usage of the platform. Before we do that, however, we want to get everyone comfortable with the platform and in the habit of using it regularly. From there, we’ll have baseline data we can use to create metrics for growth.
Maintain in-school tutoring
We continued doing in-school tutoring even as we rolled out our online tutoring platform. Schools that are able to get in-school tutoring in addition to after-school programs continue to do so. As superintendent, I’m leading the entire district and looking at the entire landscape, and I know that we don’t have the human capital to cover the tutoring needs at all of our schools, nor can we effectively meet all of our students’ needs at all hours of the day. Online tutoring helps us bridge that gap so we can support all our students at their moments of need.
In education, we try a lot of strategies and innovative initiatives that we feel will have a positive impact on student learning. Then we monitor the data, review the plans and focus on continuous improvement — as we teach our students to do, too. That’s part of the journey in education, and we have high hopes that online tutoring will prove to be one of the winners that we’ve picked along the way.
Wayne Walters, Ed.D., is superintendent at Pittsburgh Public Schools, which uses Tutor.com.
Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own.