My name is Elisa Bellicoso, an undergraduate student at U of T’s Saint George campus finishing up my final year of Romance Language Studies, with a major in French Language & Learning as well as double minors in Italian Culture/Communication and Spanish. I decided to take one Portuguese class this year, for students like myself, who have knowledge of other Romance Languages, as I was interested in learning a new language.
I’m a returning On Your Mark Volunteer Tutor – in fact, this is my second year with the program!! I first found out about the On Your Mark Tutoring Program through the CCP’s website in 2014, while looking for volunteer tutoring opportunities affiliated with U of T, that would give me firsthand experience to work towards my goal of becoming an elementary school French teacher. I choose to volunteer, as I know I am helping students overcome any academic difficulties or language barriers they may be facing, while acting as a mentor and role model for them.
Takeaways or insights for me from volunteering with the program include the following:
- mentorship facilitates learning as it helps to motivate, focus and inspire students to strive for success. It can also act as a support mechanism permitting a learner to take risks and fulfill dreams.
- the importance for teachers and tutors alike to encourage their students and give them constructive/positive feedback little by little.
- the need to adapt lesson materials to the student’s area(s) of need and preferred learning style(s).
In advance of joining this program, I thought it would be similar to others I’ve had, where I would be matched with a student who had difficulty or challenges in a subject area. Specifically, for this program, upon receiving further information on the student with whom I was to work from the program coordinators in the form of a teacher referral letter, I started to think of strategies I could use to help them, given their subject areas of need. My sessions thus far have most definitely been gratifying. Each week, I see my student progress and improve in her areas of need, which are Math and English. I am feeling pleased about this experience as I know that have been able to help my student improve weekly – the most rewarding times are when I see that concepts “click” with her.
I continue to volunteer because the benefits are many – not only for me, but also for the student I am tutoring. As a volunteer, I feel a sense of satisfaction that I can support a student strive for success and I love seeing the student I tutor feel a sense of accomplishment with my support and guidance.