Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering

Where will I volunteer? 

At one of The Literacy Project’s five learning centers, in Greenfield, Orange, Amherst, Northampton and Ware.

Can I get there by bus? 

Yes.  All sites are accessible by the local bus service.  Some sites require a short walk from the bus stop to the learning center. 

When are the classes held?

Monday-Thursday.  Classes are offered during the morning, afternoon, and evening.  Students usually attend 2-5 classes per week.

How often will I volunteer?

Once a week, for 1-3 hours a session. 

How long is the commitment?

6 months, or two school semesters. 

What if I go on vacation or leave the area for the summer?

No problem.  Just let us know in advance. 

What if I can’t make the commitment but still want to help?

 Call the Volunteer Coordinator to talk about the options. 

What exactly will I be doing?

 You will be assisting the instructor by working with one person or a small group of people on lessons the instructor has selected.  You may work with a number of different people at different levels over the course of the class period.

Can I take on more responsibility as I gain experience?  

Yes!  There are many opportunities to try out your own ideas as you get to know the students and the material.  If you have a background in teaching, you can work together with the teacher to find the best use of your expertise.  

Do I need a background in teaching?

No, you just need a willingness to learn along side the students. 

Is training provided?

Yes.  We offer an 18-hour training.  

Do I have to complete the training before I volunteer?

No.  In fact, you may find the training more useful if you’ve been in the classroom for a few weeks before you attend the training.  The training is organized as a series of on-line modules.  You can pick and choose the ones that are most relevant to you and the students you’re working with.

I’m probably younger than most of the students.  Is that okay?

Yes.  People of all ages can be wonderful volunteers, as long as they have respect for the students they work with. 

I’m not good at math.  Do I have to teach it?

If you can follow a recipe, make change for the bus, and estimate a discount at a store, you already know enough to be helpful!  You don’t have to be a math whiz, you just have to be willing to work together with the students to figure out the answers.  (And don’t worry, the answers are in the back of the book!)  If you feel strongly that you don’t want to work on math, we can try to place you in a class that focuses on reading and writing.  

Should I brush up on grammar before I start tutoring?

You don’t need to.  There’s no need for you to know any more formal grammar than you already use in daily life.  Once you’ve started tutoring, you may find that you’d feel more effective if you knew certain rules of grammar, phonics or math.  In that case, we encourage you to brush up on those skills, and we can help you find good sources for that information.    

What if I get stuck and don’t know what to do?

We don’t expect you to have all the answers!  If you get stuck, we encourage you to work together with the student to figure out the problem.  If you can’t figure it out, ask the Instructor or another student.