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The Uncertainties of Online School: Effort Does Pay Off

As the Stars for Scholarly Youth community grew, we were hit by the uncertainties posed by the pandemic. While it was not ideal, the team was able to adjust well in engaging our volunteers and students. One of those volunteers who remained very active throughout the school year is Danielle Korsrud. Danielle is an incoming third-year undergraduate student for the Biomedical Science program at the University of Calgary. She taught swimming lessons at YMCA, though this is her first time tutoring. SSY invited her for a quick conversation regarding her experience with the club.

“Tutoring has always been something in the back of my head. I was like, ‘I’m just gonna give it a go and see how it goes.’” Danielle heard about the club from her friend who is currently one of our executive members. With the pandemic interrupting her first year of university, she realized she had to be “very diligent with how I planned out my time and then have a schedule and get involved with clubs like this one.”

Her previous experience with teaching includes helping out her friends with their coursework and teaching swimming lessons. “I started teaching swimming lessons when I was in grade 11. It was a learning curve for sure. I didn’t realize just how many different types of people I’d be working with.” While Danielle has experience teaching people of varying ages, abilities, and knowledge, she shared that one of the most valuable lessons she learned is to “work with what [the students] know and try to warm up to them.”

This experience informed her how one can approach any sort of learning or teaching situation, better preparing her for our tutoring program. She emphasized being understanding, compassionate and really listening to your partner. “Sometimes, [my partner] just wants to tell me about her day or what’s going on in her life. I try to be like a friend.”

The pandemic proved the importance of friendship. “Even just talking to someone else, even if it's just one-on-one, is so nice,” Danielle said. “I think friendship is something that everyone needs right now. Getting to talk to someone close to your age, or just having gone through some of the things you went through, being able to relate to that is always, always a good thing.”

The age gap between Danielle and her partner is a mere three years and she said, “it feels like that helps to relate to the person I’m working with.” She said it is a good reminder that “I was in her shoes not too long ago.”

When asked whether it was hard to prepare for her tutoring sessions, Danielle admitted her process. “With swimming lessons, you know you’re the most experienced one in the group, for the most part. For tutoring, sometimes you get someone who might actually know more about a subject.” So, she had to review some high school content to better help her partner. “University is very different from high school expectations. Sometimes, I have to evaluate that my expectations may be very different from [my partner’s].”

She maintains relations with her partner by text or email. “I’m big on communication outside of tutoring hours. Take initiative with time management and send them reminders when you can.” She continued to advise tutors. “Responsibility, as well, and just being able to prepare ahead of time, is big for me. It makes things run more smoothly.”

Danielle admitted that things did not always come so easily for her. “Some people are just very personable, and like, good leaders. But, I can be shy sometimes. Tutoring definitely got me out of my shell and made me more confident to meet other people.”

So while having teaching experience helps, Danielle does not believe it is necessary. In fact, she said helping her friends out with their coursework was an experience that everyone may already have. For that reason, she also believes that potential tutors should not overcommit.

“When I first joined, I just decided to start with one and see how it goes. I think that was probably a smart move considering how much of a time commitment it was.”

Finally, Danielle wants to remind tutors not to underestimate their own abilities. “Be patient and hope that your efforts pay off, and they eventually do.”

*mention of the partner's name is replaced with [my partner] to protect their privacy.

With hopeful hearts,

The SSY Team

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