Beyond "Who needs help?"

It's nice when we're all on the same page, even if that page has more than a few question marks on it.

At our community gathering last weekend, David raised a topic that's been rattling around my brain and my conversations with other teachers and other volunteer coordinators all year:

How can a volunteer know which students to help? And when?

In some classes, teachers are pretty specific: Take student X to another room, or another corner, and work on Y task. But in others, our volunteers are, nominally, working with the whole class, helping students as they need it.

We call it 'floating' and when it works, it's a wonderful addition to the class, but it does rely on somehow getting the tutor around to different students who could benefit from their help.

And, most of us quickly figured out that asking "Who needs help?" and waiting for raised hands rarely works.

(When it does, congratulations, that's a very comfortable classroom environment and/or a confident student)

It's an admittedly a tricky, read-the-situation do-your-best it-all-depends kind of skill. But, still, it's a good question, so by current best attempt to offer some tips:

Knowing which student(s) to approach:

Starting the conversation

Wise teachers and tutors do you have any other tips or suggestions? What works for you?