LVA's LEARNERS SHOW SMALLER CLASSES, PERSISTENCE PAY OFF
by Literacy Volunteers and Advocates on 06/24/14
Many LVA learners received recognition at this year's Tutor-Learner Recognition Ceremony but it was particularly uplifting for LVA staff to see those learners heralded for being the "Most Improved" for two reasons.
It's great to see students do better and starting to achieve their true potential. But it's also great to know that changes to the LVA program are having the intended results.
At the beginning of the 2013-2014 session, Leitha Wilson, Lead Instructor and Administrator, worked to reduce the student-instructor ration by recruiting new instructors to enhance LVA's existing corps.
"Individual attention [to learners] is the tool for success," Ms. Wilson explains. "That way you can meet the specific needs of learners and maximize what they are able to retain."
How has the emphasis on greater attention to learners and their needs worked out? Well, LVA learners are flourishing.
Instructor Rafiu Bakare explains how his smaller Foundation II class, for learners with intermediate proficiency in reading, is proving beneficial to two students.
Mr. Bakare takes particular pride in the progress exhibited by Nathaniel Howerton.
Mr. Howerton's reading comprehension has improved, as has his vocabulary and his ability to recognize sight words. Particular attention was paid to phonetics.
Throughout the year, Mr. Bakare provided Mr. Howerton with short paragraphs. Taking the paragraphs home and then writing short statements expressing his interpretation of the paragraph's intent, Mr. Howerton proved to be "religious in bringing back homework."
Mr. Bakare also wanted his class to read the paragraph upon their return. OFten, Mr. Howerton would be the first one he called upon.
"Nathaniel did not just do the homework. He sought extra things to do," says Mr. Bakare.
Janet Daniels, also a student in Mr. Bakare's class, benefitted from the close tutor-instructor contact.
Mr. Bakare recalls that Ms. Daniels would tell him what she was working on with her tutor, Grace Terpstra. There were times that both the tutor and instructor thought the material was too advanced for Ms. Daniels. "We'd fall back."
But the payoff was that Mr. Bakare would keep working with Ms. Daniels to ensure she knew her lessons cold. That enabled her to truly push forward. The result, Mr. Bakare notes, is that Ms. Daniels is more open to participating in class and responding to questions.
"The one on one tutoring [Ms. Daniels received] and the small classroom was a paradigmatic shift," he says.
Ms. Terpstra credits Ms. Daniels with experiencing "a major breakthrough in her reading about a year ago. I believe it is mainly because of her attitude and perseverence. It is such a joy to see this happen and realize that tutoring and teaching at any age can bring success."
LVA learners and instructors are pleased with the results the smaller classes are producing.
Mr. Howerton says, "The smaller class size is helping me. With a smaller class size you get more attention and more understanding." He believes that helps the instructors to better "understand where people are coming from and what level you are."
LVA learner Kimberly Velvet, another recipient of the "Most Improved" recognition, also appreciates the smaller classes. Ms. Velvet contrasts the attention she receives in her LVA classes to the lack of it when attending school as a child.
Ms. Wilson stresses, "We'll continue to keep the smaller classes and more individualized attention to our learners and their needs as long as we are financially able to do it. We want to help our students to succeed."
LVA learners also receiving recognition for "Most Improved" include Dorsey Haywood, Henry Linton, Gloria Murchison, Dabila Quattra. Maria Rose Senghor, and Madeleine Senghor.