The Aggie Homework Helpline is giving Texas A&M student teachers an opportunity to gain experience while helping kids in pre-kindergarten through high school with their studies.
Erica Barfield, a Homework Helpline tutor and junior studying education at A&M, said that before the coronavirus pandemic moved learning online, she and her classmates were observing and working with students in person.
“Instead of just completing modules online, [this] still gives us the opportunity to work with students and learn how to ask for understanding and just bring our knowledge to them,” she said.
Shortly after the program began in September, the Homework Helpline had 114 tutors consisting of preservice teachers and members of the Reads and Counts Tutoring Program, said Marcia Montague, clinical assistant professor in educational psychology and director of the helpline. Reads and Counts tutors are not all studying education, but all tutors underwent training and passed a criminal background check.
Reads and Counts students are paid financial aid through work study, Montague said, and the education students are volunteering their time as part of practicum requirements.
Montague said the idea for the new service came about after it was noted at a College of Education and Human Development town hall meeting that families need help for students learning from home.
The helpline is organized so students can set up Zoom or phone sessions with a tutoring pair. The Reads and Counts tutors will provide recurring hour-long sessions, while education interns will provide on-demand 30-minute sessions.
Tutoring is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, with additional 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays for Reads and Counts tutors and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays for education interns.
While the Aggie Homework Helpline is based in College Station, the sessions can be scheduled by families anywhere in the state.
Barfield said the sessions scheduled with her came from outside the Brazos Valley.
“I think that this is a great opportunity,” she said. “Students don’t have the wide availability to be able to go see tutors in person, and this kind of brings the tutor to them whenever they need it, whatever day they need, and it’s a really unique experience.”
By Thanksgiving, Montague said, program organizers anticipate more than 650 hours of free tutoring to have been provided.
“Even during a pandemic, Texas A&M University students are stepping up to the plate to assist pre-K through 12 students throughout Texas, and through their efforts they grow and develop as future educators and leaders,” she said.
The tutors can help with math, English, Spanish, science, social studies, research skills, time management and organization, Montague said. To schedule a session or learn more about the Aggie Homework Helpline, go to education.tamu.edu/aggie-homework-helpline.