Heading Back to School with Licensed to Learn

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Charity Spotlight: This post was written by Mariam Sheikh, Program Information Officer for L2L, as part of our ongoing charity spotlight series. 

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As students head back to class, while most learning comes from teachers distilling their knowledge and wisdom onto their students, at some schools in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), important knowledge is being transmitted from peer to peer. Helping students and growing communities, Licensed to Learn is establishing tomorrow’s leaders, while educating today’s students.

What We Do

Licensed to Learn (L2L) is a charitable organization that facilitates peer-to-peer tutoring in schools across the GTA, with a priority focus on those schools that are in Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. We train older students to become tutors for their peers, who are students struggling in school and could benefit from the mentorship and support of an experienced, young role model. L2L’s model is unique in its simplicity and its engagement of youth tutors who take on the responsibility of supporting their peers.

In any given school we work with, we consistently ensure four core elements:

  • Two to three tutor training sessions conducted by an L2L trainer who is an educator with more than 25 years of experience;
  • Over 15 one-on-one peer-tutoring sessions;
  • Intermittent check-ins between tutors and trainers throughout the course of the program; and
  • End of program celebration and certificate ceremony.

L2L 2016: Student Voices from Licensed to Learn on Vimeo.

Our Goal

With a focus on improving students’ academic standing, L2L is devoted to giving students the opportunity to engage with their community, develop leadership skills, and gain mentorship with other students in their schools.

We also implemented an Indigenous Program, intended to bridge the academic gap by promoting equitable access to education among Indigenous students in schools. The first of its kind in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), L2L is committed to providing programming that is informed and infused with diverse perspectives in order to ensure inclusive and equitable experiences for all of our students.

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When the L2L trainer came, he taught us to always keep a word in mind, leadership. For every good relationship with a peer, you need a strong foundation, and work your way up with stability. I learned this from the task we had to do. The L2L tutor training taught us you need to have good communication and understanding, in order to adapt to your peer. It is our job to be a good role model, and give them an understanding as a peer, not as a teacher” – Tutor, Grade 7

We strive to empower students by teaching tutors to take initiative and responsibility for both their own learning, and their peers’. Student leadership is key for our program’s success – its efficacy lies in the hands of students, and their passion for education and community. For this reason, we hold leadership conferences across the GTA, which involve activities from dancing, to building marshmallow structures, to inspirational presentations from experienced professionals. Our students love this conference series as they often tell us how important they feel their newly learned skills are, as well as how they plan to use these new skills to build a bright future.

One of the amazing things about L2L’s program is seeing how students respond to one another when they have a stake in the others’ success. Tutors take accountability for their peers, who feel comforted learning from students who understand their struggles. Many of our peers go on to become tutors later in their academic careers, which points to the role empathy plays in our model.

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This desire for students to give back to their own school is essential in building a community where students may otherwise feel isolated and struggle, and besides improving their academics and learning new things, peers greatly enjoy getting to know their tutors and tutors often share how much they appreciated getting to know their younger peers. This new community helps students academically, socially, and emotionally—so much so that we often don’t have the capacity in each school to take on the overwhelming number of students who want to participate!

Funding helps us implement more programming and possibly expand into new school boards and different schools, or provide multiple programs in certain schools where demand is very high. We are looking forward to bringing L2L to even more students next year, reaching more school boards and sharing our success with more schools.

To learn more about Licensed to Learn, or to make a donation, please visit their Charity Profile Page >>

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