Proctor's Learning Skills program, the nation's longest running high school tutorial program, currently works with 134 students on a day-to-day basis as Proctor's 16 learning specialists work to improve students' organizational, time management, reading, writing, and general study skills. The first two weeks of the school year can be challenging, especially for the 38 new students involved in the Learning Skills program this fall. Adjusting to new teachers, expectations, locations of classrooms, and increased academic workload is no small feat.
Fortunately, Proctor's talented Learning Specialists have the daily opportunity to engage with their students. Meeting four times a week for fifty-five minutes per tutorial allows both students and specialists the opportunity to move far beyond content tutoring to skill based teaching.
For some students, the skills needing focus relate to time management and organizational structure.
For others, overcoming the challenges of dyslexia or other language based learning differences present specialists with the opportunity to teach reading and writing strategies that will make a long term difference in a student's desire to fully engage in his or her educational journey.
One recent alum who was a part of the Learning Skills program for all four of her years at Proctor commented during a conversation this past summer, "My tutor at college also works with Britt (another recent Proctor graduate and four-year Learning Skills student) and she immediately recognized that we both went to Proctor. She said she has seen very few students who are as organized and strategic in our approach to learning as we are, and knew that we must have both benefitted from the same program in high school!"
Clearly the skills taught during Learning Skills tutorials prepare students for life at, and beyond, Proctor, but perhaps the most meaningful aspect of Proctor's Learning Skills program lies in the relationships specialists are able to create with students. Written words on a blog like this, as any alum of the Learning Skills program will attest, cannot adequately describe the bond between specialist and student, but hopefully this video will help communicate the value Proctor places on these relationships developed over time.
This trust helps create an atmosphere of mutual respect between teacher and student. We believe that it is only when students are willing and able to feel safely vulnerable that they will allow themselves to explore their weaknesses, and truly learn.
While many specialists wish they could work with their students forever, Proctor's Learning Skills program sees itself as a temporary stop on an individual's educational journey. A stop where a student will gain valuable skills that will help him become a more effective learner. A stop where a student gains confidence in herself. A stop where a student feels heard, understood, and valued. A stop where a student is held accountable and taught how to advocate for himself. And most importantly, a stop where a student becomes an independent, self-aware learner.
Students are able to develop trusting relationships with Learning Specialists that go well beyond content tutoring.
There is no stigma attached to participating in Learning Skills, but rather pride in taking ownership of your learning.
Focused time developing reading and writing skills prepare students for all levels of academic courses at Proctor and beyond.
Proctor's faculty took ownership of their own learning this summer as well. Learning Skills Department Chair Jen Fletcher helped organize a writing workshop in mid-August to help faculty better understand the challenges many of our students face.
Linda Hecker of Landmark College's Institute for Research and Training provided tremendous insights on writing strategies for students with learning differences.
Chuck Will provides more detailed insights into this workshop in a past article on Chuck's Corner titled "Antecedents" posted on August 26th.
While not every student participates in the Learning Skills program, every student at Proctor benefits from taking courses taught by teachers who understand, are sensitive to, and are trained to teach to multiple learning styles.