ALTA’s Tutor Training course is carried out around the country every year in April and May in preparation for tutors’ entrance to the ALTA classroom in September. ALTA’s classroom and teaching style are different to what students would have experienced at school and so all potential tutors, even those with years of teaching experience start on an equal footing. In fact, many teachers find it a bit difficult to adjust to the ALTA way of doing things after years in the teaching service. Today, Adriana Smith, a soon to be ALTA Tutor based in South Trinidad shares her experience with the course.
Ever since I retired from my job nine years ago, I wanted to volunteer with ALTA but every year all sorts of things came up and I had to put it off. Finally this year, there was nothing to keep me back and so I went for the interview. The little test was a bit intimidating but I did my best.
Going to school in the 1950s, there wasn’t anything called phonics and so I was a bit skeptical about learning in this new way. After the interview, I was told that I had to observe eight classes and I thought this would either make or break me.
The first class I observed was a rude awakening for me. I was shocked to see the simple words these students could not read and I thought to myself, “Wow, this is going to be a challenge.” I started looking forward to attending these observations and I liked interacting with the students. I completed the entire observation period and I was very happy to be chosen as a tutor.
After that came the more difficult part – training. Training went on for six weeks and I have to say that I learned a lot but it was so intense. Many times I found it difficult to digest everything. ALTA presents a whole new way of learning and my old brain had some difficulty remembering everything. However I enjoyed the training thoroughly and was able to persevere till the end. It made me wonder though, if this training course was so challenging for me, what is it like for ALTA students who come in with limited reading and writing capabilities. I can only imagine their frustration. ALTA tutors must have a lot of patience with their students and give them a lot of encouragement. I am looking forward to teaching in September after a rewarding training course.