Tutoring Program-School Communication: Kickoff Meeting Agenda

Why have a tutoring program-school kickoff meeting?

Particularly if your Setting is In-School, proactive coordination with school administrators is necessary to make tutoring sessions feel like a part of the school day rather than a separate entity. To facilitate this collaboration, your tutoring program must work with the entire school so that staff members inside the building — from school principals to maintenance staff — have aligned their goals, expectations, and logistics. Understanding a school’s individual context will also enable your program to identify key players in the school with whom ongoing communication will be needed.

Kickoff Agenda: Tutoring Program Shares

(Written) Introduction/Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Tutoring Program

After formally introducing the tutoring program to school administration (possibly through documentation similar to the Introductory Statement to Families), the tutoring program should share the requirements for partnership based on the program’s model design. For example, if the program will require teachers to be available once a week for collaboration with tutors, this should be communicated on the front end so that administrators can program this time into teacher schedules.

Culturally-responsive: When you share your Introductory Statement with administrators, seek their feedback about how to improve or adapt it to make it more accessible to families.

The degree to which program requirements are pre-defined versus developed in collaboration with the school will depend on the nature of the partnership, the life-stage of the tutoring program (e.g, start-up, well-established program, etc.), as well as any previous communications with the district. Depending on local context, it may be more common for a tutoring program to develop a MOU directly with the district, or it may be more common for programs to partner directly with schools. Either way, partnership expectations should be clear to school administrators. It may be helpful to have the MOU as a digital document so that if expectations are revised during the kickoff meeting, changes can be recorded. Note that any such revised expectations may require other documents (e.g. the Introductory Statement to Families) to be updated as well! 

(In-Person) Introduction to the Tutoring Program/Kickoff Meeting

Let administrators ask clarifying questions about your program, interalize key points, give feedback or flag potential challenges around partnership expectations, provide school context, answer logistical questions, and help set up ongoing communication.

Reducing Stigma: It’s crucial that all stakeholders, including administrators, talk about tutoring in a positive light around students. How school staff talk about tutoring, even well-intentioned comments about how the student needs extra help, can either reduce or exacerbate the stigma of attending tutoring.

Tutoring Program should present an introductory letter for families: 

  • Introductory Letter Home to Families/Tutoring Purpose and Mission
    • How is the tutoring program positioned to students? What is its focus?
    • What are your program’s important Model Dimensions?
    • Where do your tutors come from? (i.e., What is your Tutor Type?)

Tutoring Program should set a joint vision with the School:

End-Of-Year Outcomes

Always start with the end in mind. By agreeing on a shared vision and set of goals at the outset, both parties can easily check in to see if the partnership is on track throughout the year and, if not, adjust their course accordingly. 

Stakeholder Support: While administrators may not have time for full team formation activities, make sure you get to know them as individuals. Even small things like knowing their communication preferences or asking about their weekends will make follow-up conversations and requests easier.

  • What does success at the end of the year look like...
    • For students?
    • For teachers?
    • For the school community?
    • For specific departments?
    • For the grade-level team? 
  • Alternative questions: “If we were to fast-forward to the end of the year, what would need to be true for you to partner with us again? How will you know your investment was worth it? What else might success look like for you?”
  • Are there quantitative goals?
    • Student achievement goals
    • Passing/College-ready rates on state exams
    • Classroom passing rates or GPA goals
    • Student growth metrics
    • School/Classroom-based assessment goals
  • Are there qualitative goals?
    • Instructional priorities (e.g. tutors lead culturally-responsive sessions)
    • Student engagement protocols (e.g. students demonstrate higher-order thinking skills during tutoring)
    • Instructional, pedagogical, or cultural indicators
      (e.g. after tutoring, students feel more confident to share out in regular whole-class instruction)

Tutoring Program and School should agree on conditions and expectations: 

Partnership Conditions

Articulate any expectations your tutoring program believes are necessary in order to meet the agreed-upon goals and vision above. Below is a checklist of questions about possible conditions, but it is not exhaustive. In particular, your tutoring program may wish to add questions around mindsets or beliefs it wishes to see schools or teachers demonstrate. Draw on your program’s past years of experience, as well as external research, and be ready to share your rationale for any expectations with school partners. Some expectations may be firm propositions, while others may need to be more flexible and decided upon jointly. 

  • Tutoring Time
    • When will tutoring sessions take place, and for how long?
      • Is there a minimum viable session length the program believes is necessary for efficacy?
      • Is there a minimum frequency per week? 
    • Is the student-tutor ratio 1-on-1 or small group? 
    • Is the tutoring always rostered, or will there be any drop-in tutoring? 
    • How will tutoring attendance be tracked? 
    • Can teachers refer students to tutoring? How and when can they do so? 
  • Tutoring Schedule
    • At what times will tutoring take place so as not to conflict with any student’s core academic classes? 
    • What else could conflict with a student attending tutoring? How should tutors navigate those conflicts? 
  • Roster
    • Share the list of students who will receive tutoring. 
    • If the list isn’t created yet, or if take-up is voluntary, share the student recruitment strategy instead.
    • If take-up is voluntary, ask how school staff can support student recruitment. 
  • Tutoring Sessions
    • How will students typically spend their tutoring sessions?
      • Are tutoring sessions usually reactive to academic struggles, or do they offer proactive supports? 
      • Are tutoring sessions focused on reteaching content from the classroom curriculum, or are they used for academic interventions (e.g. increasing reading fluency or number sense)? 
    • How will tutors choose their specific tutoring topics each day? 
      • Will they need teachers’ input?
      • Will they be using assessment data? 
    • What materials will tutors pull from for their tutoring sessions?
      • Old classwork?
      • A specific textbook or curriculum? 
    • Are there any typical instructional approaches used by tutors? 
      • I-Do, We-Do, You-Do structures?
      • Inquiry-based instruction?
    • Are there any specific structures typically used during tutoring?
      • Goal setting conferences after assessments?
      • Group projects?
      • Student presentations?

Kickoff Agenda: School Administration Shares

School Context

Administrators should share information about their unique school context. With a better understanding of school context, the tutoring program can figure out how to embed itself not just into the school’s schedule, but also the school’s culture. 

Share all that apply: 

  • What school-wide policies (behavioral, grading, instructional, etc.) are there? 
  • How does the school and how do teachers already use data to customize instruction? 
  • What school-wide events (pep rallies, spirit weeks, testing schedules, etc.) are there?
  • What school-wide structures are there?
    • Advisory?
    • Peer mediation?
    • Student tutors?
    • Family outreach?
    • Department/grade team meetings?
  • When are major assessments scheduled for the year? 
  • What other programs (mentorships, extracurriculars, interventions, etc.) does the school partner with? 

Student Data

School administrators should share student performance data with tutors and site administrators to ensure that programs and tutors build an understanding of the academic strengths and opportunities for the students who will likely be involved in tutoring. A data sharing agreement should be established and is typically included in the Memorandum of Understanding. See the Student Data Privacy Guidance for best practices when sharing student student data. 

Stakeholder Support: School Administrators can provide cohort or community trends for students as a group beyond what teachers may be able to. For example, administrators may be able to say their work on parent outreach has increased attendance 15% but they’re not seeing that attendance translate to after-school activities.

Academic data will help tutors minimize the amount of time they need to spend on baseline assessments to understand their students’ academic needs. Qualitative personal data will help tutors build strong relationships with students faster. And knowing what their students are like in the classroom will help tutors support students in transferring both academic and study skills from tutoring sessions into students’ time at school.

Share all that are available at time of kickoff: 

  • Baseline Academic Data (Quantitative)
    • If no baseline data is available, is there end-of-year data from the students’ previous year (e.g. summative tests, state exams, and/or final grades)?
  • School Administrator Insights (Qualitative)

    Student Agency: IEPs and 504 Plans are legal documents outlining individual student accommodations. Taking the time to get access to these documents so that tutoring goals can be aligned with the goals set in students’ IEP meetings empowers students to meet those goals.

    • What academic strengths does this student body have as a whole? 
    • What academic struggles does this student body have as a whole?
    • What motivations do students at this school commonly share?
    • What initiatives, tutoring or otherwise, have not worked for students in the past?
    • What other student information would be helpful for tutors working with this student body?
      • Popular school clubs or extracurriculars?
      • School cultural events?
      • Demographic data? (e.g. percentage of first-generation college-going students, free/reduced lunch data, race and ethnicity breakdowns, etc.) 
      • Student commute information? (to help understand the viability of before-school/after-school tutoring and improve student attendance)
  • Student IEPs/504 Plans
    • Can tutors access student support documents (including IEPs, 504s, or any other supports/services students are receiving)? 

Ongoing Communication

Checking in throughout the year will be easier if time is set aside at the beginning to establish when check-ins will happen and how they will be coordinated. 

Share all that are available at time of kickoff: 

  • Updates for School Administrators
    • Ask how administrators prefer to communicate for check-ins, if they have one-off logistical questions, and if they have urgent concerns? 
    • Consider asking for one school administrator to serve as the point person for tutoring program communications.
    • Consider asking to be included on the school’s shared calendar and/or email lists.
    • If the school uses a shared drive (e.g. Google Drive), ask to have a domain-specific email address (e.g. Gmail with GSuite) to make future communication and document sharing with teachers easier
  • Teacher-Tutor Communication
    • What are the expectations for ongoing communication and collaboration amongst tutors and teachers?
    • Who will coordinate this collaboration, and when? 
      • Note: Prep time is precious for teachers and difficult to keep sacred. If possible, get any necessary coordination time onto teachers’ official schedules so that no other meetings are scheduled during prep time!
    • What style of communication will teachers and tutors adopt? See Teacher-Tutor Communication: Continual Updates for details. 
  • Other Key Staff
    • Who are the key players in the school? 
      • Department Heads
      • Grade Team Leaders
      • Deans
      • School Counselors
      • College Advisors
      • School Nurse
      • Maintenance Staff
      • Instructional Coaches
      • Family Outreach Coordinators
      • After School Staff Coordinators
    • Where should the tutoring program turn for help to best fulfill its partnership conditions? Asking a series of “Who can help with X?” questions will provide the tutoring program with valuable information about school resources.
      • Who can help with a logistical afterschool conflict? 
      • Who can make bathroom key copies for tutors?
      • Whom should tutors contact if a student needs socioemotional support during tutoring? 
      • Whom should tutors contact in cases of mandated reporting
      • Whom should tutors ask about family engagement?