So, You Want to Start a Tutoring Organization? Part 1: Decision Making

Welcome to Part 1 of “So, You Want to Start a Tutoring Organization.” In this series of National Student Support Accelerator webinars, we’ll help to demystify the process of starting a tutoring organization through three videos that cover various aspects of this process. In this video, we will first cover some of the basic steps and logistics that your program should consider when first starting out.

Looking at this webinar series as a whole, this video will tackle some necessary questions, logistics, and assessments for your program to consider in the early stages of development. Our second video will then cover how to approach the recruitment and selection processes, and our final video of this series will cover the steps that should be taken once your program is more in motion – including screening your tutors, evaluating your program, and considering your program’s accessibility.

Prior to starting a program, whether it is for tutoring or for another type of service, it is important that the community you aim to serve actually needs your program. To find out whether your program is needed, conduct a Community Landscape Analysis to outline the strengths, resources, and needs of your community, and to collect the necessary information to design a service that can meet those needs. During the data collection and analyzing process that goes along with this analysis, note that data can come from a variety of sources that provide direct input from stakeholders, including interviews and focus group meetings. Public forums, such as school board meetings, may also provide insights into community priorities, and existing data on student learning and other measures of students’ needs and accomplishments can be helpful as well.

Make sure to also hear from a wide range of stakeholders during this process, prioritizing students and families as well as other important stakeholders such as teachers and school leaders – who can provide expert understanding of students’ needs for additional tutoring services. Other community members or local organizations can also help you better understand the population you are aiming to serve.

With these data, you should be able to identify the strengths, gaps, needs and opportunities of your program. What are the existing assets in this community? Where is something missing from this community’s support structures and what specific problems and unmet needs has this community shared? Identifying these gaps and needs will help you design your tutoring program to fill them. Lastly, what specific resources in this community can you leverage to help solve its problems, and what are potential threats to your program that you will need to consider? Once you have this information, produce a simple report that you can use to present your findings to the community and to other stakeholders. This report can serve as a summarizing tool to help you advocate for your tutoring program, directly connecting the development of your program to the needs of the community.

Upon better understanding the external need for a program, you can further develop the logic for your specific tutoring program. Your logic model should specify community needs, program inputs, actions, outputs, and impact. For any tutoring program, a Logic Model should explain how the program’s design will produce the results that you aim to achieve for students. While it may seem like unnecessary work, a fully fleshed-out Logic Model provides many benefits such as aligning your organization around a shared understanding of what you are trying to achieve, clarifying your program’s goals for impact, and effectively monitoring progress towards those goals.

Once you have a logic model, it will also be easy to develop a Value Proposition for your program. A Value Proposition is a concise articulation of the value your organization will deliver. It consists of two core components: the Challenge that the program intends to address, and the Approach that the program will take to address that challenge. Additionally, it distinguishes your program from other seemingly similar programs by highlighting what makes your approach uniquely well-suited for solving a specific problem or particularly effective at meeting a specific unmet need.

The Logic Model and Value Proposition describe the benefits of the program for the community. Questions to consider in a Value Proposition include: What is the challenge addressed by your program, and who experiences it? What is the better world you envision instead? What beliefs underlie the vision? When tackling these questions, make sure that your value proposition is clear and concise.

It is also important to consider what data you might want to include in your value proposition, what the possible compounding effects could be if the identified challenge goes unaddressed, and what the barriers to successfully addressing this challenge are. Other considerations could include what types of software will be used, and if/ how your programming will align with grade and state curriculum.

With your Community Landscape, Logic Model, and Value Proposition developed, you are ready to move on to the design phase of starting your tutoring organization. We will cover many of the design details in Parts 2 and 3 of this Webinar. Before turning to the details, it is useful to make some initial choices about the Model Dimensions of your tutoring program. The National Student Support Accelerator provides a short questionnaire of the following multiple-choice questions to help you identify the model dimensions that will best fit your program: Which students are you aiming to serve? Which content areas will your program address? Which grade levels will your program serve? Where and when will tutoring sessions happen? Who will decide which students receive tutoring? Who will your tutors be? How will students and tutors collaborate? How often will tutoring sessions happen? How many students will each tutor work with at a time? And finally, will each student consistently work with the same tutor across multiple sessions? Each choice that you make for your Model Dimensions should have a clear rationale supported by your Landscape Analysis. With these questions answered, you will be well on your way to designing your new tutoring program.

Thank you for watching this National Student Support Accelerator Video on the initial stages of creating a tutoring program. Be sure to also check out Part 2 of the “So, You Want to Start a Tutoring Organization” series, Recruitment and Selection. To find the complete collection of Accelerator tutoring tools, including those utilized in this video, please visit the link here. Thank you!

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