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Writing Program in El Cerrito Schools Needs Volunteer Coaches

Help students at Portola and El Cerrito HS develop writing skills.

From WriterCoach Connection:

WriterCoach Connection seeks volunteers to support student writing at Portola Middle and El Cerrito High Schools. The program, now in its third year in WCCUSD, trains adults from all walks of life to coach youth in writing and critical thinking. If you are looking for a meaningful way to volunteer in public schools, WriterCoach provides a well-structured and highly effective program.

If you have a spare two hours, two or three days a month, you can make a difference for local public school students. You don't need to be an English major, as coaches come from all educational backgrounds. You will be well-trained to work with the wide variety student writers from emerging to accomplished.

Trainings take part in two three-hour sessions, generally held a week apart. Coaching becomes part of the English curriculum and takes place during class time. Students receive invaluable one-to-one guidance through the writing process. Coaching is for many a meaningful volunteer experience and often becomes a coach's highlight of the week. The program is an excellent activity for new retirees looking to help their community.

El Cerrito High School and Portola Middle School are in real need of new coaches. Several trainings are available during the month of September in West County and in other nearby venues. To register or learn more, visit the WriterCoach website, or email volunteer.ecwcc@gmail.com.

best bookkeeper September 10, 2012 at 03:27 PM
The program takes students out of classrooms and away from teachers to pair them with "interested adults." why not have the program before or after school? Why give our part-time instructional staff (that's the teachers with the long vacations, many holidays, and 5-10% absentee rate) more time away from students?
ECFamily September 10, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Best Bookkeeper, I am wondering if this was your experience when you volunteered with the program? I have been volunteering with the program for two years, so I am a bit confused by your comment. We actually work very closely with the teacher, who provides weekly updates on assignments, provides a weekly overview of the class, and a detailed description of the assignment that students are working on. Rather than ONE teacher working with a whole class on the writing process or working with ONE student while the other students work silently on their own, this program allows EVERY student to be paired with an adult who gives them one-on-one writing guidance, per the teacher's instructions. We are just one part in the writing process that teachers guide students through. We do not in any way work independent from the teacher, or outside of the teacher's assignment for that day. This also gives the teacher an opportunity to work one-on-one with students during this time (contrary to your suggestion that teachers are doing nothing during this time). Anyone who has ever been a teacher knows how valuable one-on-one feedback and guidance is to the writing process. A teacher who has 40+ students CANNOT do this for every student. This is why this program is so need and loved. Also, those interested adults have gone through a rigorous training in order to volunteer. This is a very valuable program for teachers, for students, and for volunteers. It is also very successful.
Susan September 10, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I've heard rave reviews of this program. What a wonderful experience for a student, with class sizes as large as they are (31 students? 33?) to have time with someone individually who cares about their success. I'm jealous that I am not retired or not working and am not able to be involved.
Tamsen September 10, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Susan, if it helps at all, I also work full time and volunteer with the program. I can only do one period, and I then go to work (so, indeed, I arrive late to work on Fridays, but since it is not every Friday, it has worked out okay). I volunteered at Portola first thing Friday morning, and then went to work. Not sure if this would be an option for you, but maybe in the future? Also, I would like to add that I agree with ECFamily; we do work with the students per the teachers' instructions and guidelines. What the program does is allow students to receive one-on-one guidance/help/feedback/discussions with respect to the paper they are writing, for an hour, uninterrupted. Do the math. There is no way a teacher can offer this to every single student, yet every single student benefits from this type of intervention. The teacher also takes a student to work one-on-one with during this time. It is a win-win for everyone involved. It's also an example of how a community can come together to support our students and our schools.
Susan September 11, 2012 at 07:01 PM
gee thanks for the inspiration, you do work full time also. And THANKS for being involved in our children's lives.

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