Interview with Rachel Story
Schools are already signing up for Ignite! Reading next year and increasing their numbers of students participating. In fact, we expect to more than double in size next fall, which means more tutoring opportunities for you! We reached out to Rachel Story who holds the record for the highest tutoring load at 26 students to gain a perspective on what it means to expand one’s tutoring role and why she chose to be a nearly full-capacity tutor.
Q: Tell us about why you chose to tutor so many students.
I started with Ignite! Reading in the fall of 2021 thinking it was a nice side job, and I tutored for the very first pilot program. By the following year, I liked it so much that I wanted to see if there were enough students to make it the majority of my work day. There were, and I found myself feeling more confident in my own teaching skills and becoming an expert because I was teaching so many protocols, students across reading levels, and students across ages. I was becoming a better professional because of it. However, you definitely don’t have to tutor as many students as I did to experience the benefits Ignite has to offer!
Q: How did tutoring more make you a better educator?
The delivery of the content gets easier the more you do it, and once you feel confident in your delivery, you can focus even more on what your students need. For example, we talk a lot about designing an oral drill for a student’s skill gaps, and I improved upon my ability to do that. Let’s say your student is struggling with the “sh” sound, you can design an extra practice drill to practice that skill at the beginning or end of class.
Tutoring online makes you more adept at connecting over a screen, which is how work and education are trending. You learn how to build trust, how to modify and adjust, and how to pull in features from the lesson space or ideas outside of it.
Tutoring helped me expand my emotional intelligence. Leading 1:1 sessions with various kids who have completely different backgrounds builds awareness, grace for others, and the ability to check our own assumptions and privileges. Overall, you develop skills as a literary expert that will translate to other areas of your life, other professions, and to other children.
Q: You could have tutored for any online company. Why was Ignite the right match for you?
Anyone working in education is there because they truly want to try their hardest to help students learn, and it can be so disheartening to do everything possible but still not see the progress you’re helping a student make. Tutoring for Ignite, you get to see exponential student growth. Every three weeks you are seeing progress. Even if your student doesn’t pass a protocol, you do a reteach and later see the progress.
From one month to the next, my students were reading words they could have never read before. You don’t just hope and feel that you are making a difference, you see tangible evidence that you’re doing something that matters. The excitement of that made me eager to go to class every day.
As for choosing to be a reading tutor, I suppose reading feels like the most essential subject to me. I would challenge people to find any subject matter that does not base itself on the ability to read first. It is nearly impossible to learn everything you want to in this world if you can’t read and take in information.
Q. Anything additional you’d like to share with tutors as they think about their work plans for next year?
The tangible benefits of the Ignite! Reading Tutor Educator job will grow as Ignite gets bigger next year. With more students on board, it’s more likely you’ll get the schedule you want and be able to work more hours. In that respect, the work life balance benefit will keep improving. The real benefit however, is teaching more students to read. Watching their confidence and excitement to read skyrocket alongside the growth in their skills . . . there’s nothing that compares to that.