October 1-5 is National Tutoring Week, where education organizations across the country recognize those who help teach learners of all ages. Indy Reads classrooms are built around the support of volunteer tutors, and one of the ways we’ll be celebrating our volunteers this week with a series of volunteer spotlights.
Our first intern at Indy Reads, Lauren devotes two mornings a week in our ELL (English Language Learner) classes at the Excel Center, where she assists the classroom instructor with teaching and lesson planning. In addition to getting hands-on experience, Lauren participates in weekly professional development meetings during which she brings questions to the table, enabling her to get one-to-one mentoring as a she works towards her ELL teaching certification.
Although she started in mid-August, she had plenty to say about her experience so far:
Why did you choose to intern with Indy Reads?
After following Indy Reads through social media and visiting the bookstore, Lauren decided it was finally time to work with the organization, which she described as a “non-profit on the progressive side of promoting literacy.” When she heard about the internship opportunity, she thought, “That’s perfect. I feel they do a great job in the community promoting literacy and it would be a great place to learn more.”
She cited practice and observation as the main benefits of the internship. “Taking classes, you get the theory of why people do what they do, but seeing it is completely different.” She also enjoys getting 1-1 time to work on lesson planning. “I feel like it will make me a much better teacher in the future and will help my students be much more proficient in English.”
Lauren told us three things she enjoys about working with students:
- Getting to know their backgrounds: why they want to learn English, their culture & their country, which enables her to gain knowledge about places she’s never visited.
- Getting to know the teachers, volunteers, and people who are passionate about ELL and about welcoming new people to this country.
- The joy of teaching: “I get a lot of joy out of teaching English . . . English as a language, and getting to share and practice that with other people.”
What have students taught you in the classroom?
“How much you can do if you’re passionate about succeeding and learning as much as they can to fulfill their dreams.”
The students, many of whom have been through the trauma of war and political upheaval, inspire her daily with their positive attitude and work ethic. “Some of them have told me the best part of their week is coming to class. It makes me feel good, but it’s inspiring to see them work and succeed.”
She described the classroom as a community that is host to students with a variety of dreams, from becoming a makeup artist or an entrepreneur. “If I can be a stepping stone in helping them reach their goals. That’s really inspiring.”
Tell me something interesting about yourself.
When Lauren decided to go bungee jumping in New Zealand off the first bridge certified for this daredevil activity, it was a stretch for her. “The hardest part is convincing yourself that you should jump off a building over rushing water,” she said. She’s glad she did, though, as the activity was “surprisingly exhilarating . . . but relaxing as you fall through the air.”
What do you tell people about volunteering and interning at Indy Reads?
“As volunteers, we get to do so much. We’re very involved in the classroom and we’re given a lot of responsibility. If anyone is interested in teaching as a career, they should think about the internship program. It’s a good stepping stone.”