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Getting into the Alta classroom

Published: 
Thursday, January 18, 2018

In the Alta classroom, the teachers aren’t there to give answers – instead they ask questions. The aim is to guide students to think through what is being taught. It’s a novel idea compared with the traditional classroom, not to mention an unsettling place to be for new tutors. After all, it’s so much easier to just tell others what they need to know and feel satisfied that your knowledge has passed to them – but has it?
Becoming an Alta tutor means learning how to teach differently, one of which is how to direct students to finding the answers themselves. Alta tutors work at this everyday in the classroom. Students actively participate in learning with discussions that draw from their bank of personal experience and knowledge.

Below, tutors write about being in the Alta classroom:

Louisa Christopher

“This was an eye-opener for me and an exciting one. The teaching was made easy as I had a co-operative tutor who, with just one year’s experience in the Alta classroom, readily shared her knowledge. We were able to plan our lessons and each contributed to the completion of the lesson for the day.

Since both levels were in one classroom, the introduction to the readings was done by me. Having to prepare for those introductions meant providing visual aids in some instances to get the topic across. This was a challenge for me with my demanding job. However just knowing the students were looking forward to the sessions was encouragement to go the extra mile.”

Bernadette Nathaniel

“As a tutor, I have experienced different emotions: pride, when a student grasps something and a light seems to come on; humbled and honoured, when students share some of the difficulties that they have faced in their lives; emotional, when hearing some of the difficulties but most of all, a feeling of satisfaction in helping in some small way to make someone’s life a little better.

I cannot imagine a world without being able to read. I admire the students’ desire to learn, many of them come straight from work and are tired but they plod on even when it is difficult. Each student has a special story and different motivating factors, but the important thing is they are coming to class because they have a goal.

Alta’s approach is especially effective because the students are never made to feel slow or foolish. They are encouraged and supported. This is very important. They are also treated with respect. Many of the students still feel the hurt inflicted in their childhood and we need to boost their self esteem.”

Marjorie Matieriene

“I have been with Alta for several years. My first classroom teaching experience was a bit daunting FILEbecause I did not know what to expect. As time passed, I began to look forward to the classes; the reason being, students and tutors bonded and learning became a two-way flow. I was learning from them and they were learning from me. Now, I always look forward to Alta classes.”

More info

Alta is currently recruiting volunteer tutors around the country who are interested in teaching our students to read and write. If you have a Grade 1 or 2 CSEC English (or its equivalent) and can commit to teaching a class twice a week for one academic year from September 2018, call 624-2582. Volunteer, Donate or Sponsor-a-student. Call 624-2582 or email [email protected] for more info. Keep up to date with Alta on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: ALTA TT

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