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IMPACT Conference: Virtual Tutoring and Building ProActive Communities

Last Friday, a few members of our team attended the virtual IMPACT conference. A year ago around the same time, a few of us were fortunate enough to attend this conference in person in Tucson, AZ, during the final days before the pandemic took hold. Time flies…  

In this year’s virtual IMPACT Conference, we were able to learn from this amazing community, joining several sessions including ones centered on virtual tutoring and on building proActive communities to teach and connect. In addition, we had an opportunity to present with our partners from Benedictine College on making a difference from a distance through virtual engagement

We had a great time at our Networking Hour Painting Activity, pictured below, where we reflected on the IMPACT Conference mission and values through art! 

In this post, we have gathered a few key takeaways from sessions we attended. We will be updating this post with additional learnings in the days ahead!

Virtual Tutoring

This session was hosted by co-Presenters Dr. Seamus Clune, Dean Todd McKinney, Courtney Rhone, Dr. Christian Rice, and Katie Turek from Perkiomen Valley School District and Ursinus College. Presenters shared how to structure virtual tutoring sessions to support student wellbeing and learning. Some standout suggestions included: 

  • Emphasize play and connection: During COVID-19, isolation and mental health are adversely impacting many young students. Virtual teaching and tutoring may be some of the few chances that students have to be social and form connections. Use activities like Kahoot or Among Us to allow students to let down their guard, form friendships, and incorporate play into their learning. 
  • Set goals and expectations together: At the start of any class or tutoring session, go over shared expectations and set the tone; early in the semester or program, students should come up with goals for what they hope to accomplish, reinforcing their autonomy and control. You can also set longer-term goals, using fun formats to introduce play into goal-setting. For example, create vision boards together by making a collage on a Google doc or Canva! 
  • Where possible, give students choices: In a time when many choices — where to go, who to hang out with — have been taken away from younger people, allowing students to make decisions is of the utmost importance. See where you can add elements of choice to your lesson plan. Maybe you can allow students to choose which activity to start the class with or let them decide between books for read-aloud. Another idea could be to have them decide the order of events, such as whether the fun activity comes before or after the main lesson. 

Building ProActive Communities

This session featured co-presenters from ProAct Indy and University of Indiana. ProAct Indy is a nonprofit that connects schools, corporations, and nonprofits to empower youth to better serve our community. Some of their suggestions for proactive community building include: 

  • Use SAM: When it comes to difficult conversations and those who don’t want to listen, use SAM: See Others, Adjust Accordingly, and Make Impact. While it can be easy to make assumptions about where the other person is coming from, asking questions that help you to understand their viewpoint and adjusting to meet their worldview allows you to make a more profound impact. 
  • Stay at the bottom of the influence pyramid: Panelists shared the influence pyramid, which encourages you to proactively build relationships in order to teach and communicate with those who may disagree with you.
  • Maintain a collaborative, outward mindset: Awareness of the needs of others rather than focus on your own needs will go a long way toward making a difference. Civic engagement thrives on conversations based upon mutual respect and understanding — you can start by focusing on how you can adjust to help others! 

Making a Difference From a Distance 

This session was hosted by co-presenters from the GivePulse team and from our partners at  Benedictine College. The program emphasized how virtual engagement can contribute to student and community success both during and after the pandemic. Key suggestions include: 

  • Be flexible: Organizations, communities, and institutions are all in a period of flux.  It can be difficult to know what guidelines and personal comfort will allow, particularly as vaccine rollout continues. Offering flexible options for engagement and preparing to change as needed will ensure that you and your constituents are able to make a sustained impact.  
  • Focus on community: When you are creating virtual opportunities, take the opportunity to set goals with community partners. These goals might be based on initiatives from cities or local foundations, or may be based on data you have gathered. Data can also help you tell the story of your shared impact and recognize gaps to help ensure you are meeting community needs.
  • Recognize the positives of virtual volunteering: Attendees were encouraged to make virtual and remote volunteering an ongoing part of their program. Virtual opportunities offer greater accessibility and flexibility, which expands who is able to participate, and empowers further engagement. In addition, virtual and remote activities tend to meet new needs and challenges, encourage civic involvement, and help expand individual understanding of impact. 

Networking Hour: Art and Activism

On Saturday evening, our team led a networking hour painting activity to reflect and collaborate on the conference missions along with other attendees. Some of the reflection questions and conversations considered: 

  • The role of art in social justice: In accordance with the broader conference mission of creating a reflective learning space in pursuit of social justice, Brian and Skyla centered the Networking Hour on art and creativity. Art has historically been used for advocacy, for reflection, and for imagining new ways of seeing our world. Participants were invited to reflect on how it can continue to be a tool to envision and effect change. 
  • IMPACT Conference Values: The activity was guided by the IMPACT Conference values: liberation, students, local intentionality, collaboration, and aspiration. Participants were asked to select a value and illustrate their value through painting. Paintings incorporated symbols, words, color and more to illustrate the value. 
  • Importance of sharing and connection: Participants were able to go into breakout rooms corresponding to their chosen value, where they were able to engage in discussions and learn more about other conference attendees. At the end of the hour, the group came back together to share their masterpieces and reflect on their takeaways. 

Join Us In Other Upcoming Conferences 

The sessions described above were just a few of the many opportunities to discuss and reflect on community engagement practices that can help those in higher education, nonprofits, CSR, and more. With this in mind, we hope you will consider joining us at some of the upcoming conferences listed below. In addition, if you have any questions about how we can help with virtual volunteering, online tutoring programs, and more, please reach out.

Upcoming Conferences 

  • Campus Compact Continuums of Service — March 17, 2021
  • Gulf South Summit — March 15-18, 2021
    • Join us for our session: “What’s Your Community Engagement Story? The gifts, challenges and opportunities in tracking community engagement”
      March 16, 3:30 – 4:30pm CT
  • NASPA Conference — March 17-26, 2021
    • Join us for our session: “Restructuring Community Engagement: Pursuing Student Success in Times of Crisis”
      March 24, 11-11:50am CT

Published in Collaboration Festivals, Conferences, and Events GivePulse