School Volunteering - Sasha's Story

April 07, 2017 by Rachael C
Image The Tutorfair Foundation helps children who can't afford private tuition by organising school volunteering placements for top tutors. Not all placements take place during the school day. Medical student and maths tutor Sasha tells us about volunteering at an after school club.

For the past few months Sasha, has been volunteering with Stretch Academy after school club, at Woodberry Down Primary School. At Stretch, Sasha supports children with learning 11+ style content. He helps with all the material, “particularly aiming to help out with the tricky maths and non-verbal sections.”

Sasha School volunteering

As a big believer in social mobility, he was drawn to the Foundation. Sasha says, “it's massively important that access to one-on-one (or similar out-of-school) teaching is available to all children, not just those who can afford to pay privately.”

How does a working medic find the time to volunteer? Sasha tells us he wanted to do some volunteering last year, “but unfortunately my medical school timetable was unrelenting. None of the sessions were at times I could do. This year I'm free on Thursday afternoons, so I signed-up straightaway! Woodberry Down is also very close to my home, so it was ideal!”

School Volunteering Stretch
Despite having years of tutoring experience Sasha, like many of our volunteers, was nervous to begin with. He tells us, “I was a little daunted, to be honest! It'd been a while since I'd last done any classroom-based work, let alone in a primary school. So I guess I was also unsure of exactly what to expect. Thankfully Alex is an exceptional teacher and all of the students in the group were so engaged and hard-working. It all fell into place and I was really enjoying helping out by the end.”

Fast forward to several months in and the nerves are all gone. Sasha says it's relaxed as, “the students all know me, by now, and are much more confident in asking questions, and making the most of the time. This is great, as it means Alex has more time to focus on other students and make sure everyone can contribute and learn to the best of their ability! The class are really fun and welcoming, too, so I always feel at ease and really enjoy helping with the work.”

School Volunteering Stretch

School Volunteering positives
Each day has different positives, Sasha’s favourite session so far was, “when the topic was codes, using algebra. Maths has always been my favourite subject to teach (despite its general reputation!) and it was so rewarding to see the kids racing through the worksheet with bright smiles. Some actually volunteered to take unfinished work home to do as homework! That's not something you see everyday.”

As well as the joy of seeing children develop a love of maths, volunteering has had personal benefits for Sasha. He has found it “a real pleasure teaching the children at Woodberry Down, particularly given our similarities in background. It so inspiring and motivating to see these children staying in school, and working until 5pm on a Thursday, just to stretch themselves that bit further and expand their education. I'm glad they've been offered this opportunity. I'm all the more glad that they seem to be grasping it with both hands!”

School Volunteering Stretch
Though it is fun and inspiring now it was challenging to begin with. Sasha remembers finding it tricky, “adapting to the new students, particularly to teaching in a large-group environment. Everyone has their own style and way of understanding things, so you just have to be really patient and make sure that you're using the best explanation for that particular student.” One thing that helped in getting ready for the placement was the training day. Sasha tells us, “Alex actually led the Primary session, on the training day, and it was largely based around the way he delivers the Stretch Academy sessions. It was an excellent insight into the way he teaches and the way he covers certain topics, so I at least felt prepared for that, on my first day!”

Are you low on time but thinking of volunteering? Let Sasha encourage you to get involved: “I'd highly recommend it! There's such a great range of volunteering opportunities, across various subjects and age groups, and it really is such a satisfying and rewarding way to spend an hour (or more!) of your week. It's also an excellent chance to work with brilliant students who otherwise may never have the opportunity to ask those extra questions, or seek that bit more help.”

You can book Sasha on Tutorfair
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