Volunteer Tutoring - Mehak's Story

March 10, 2020 by Tas F
Image  ‘When I was in school I had teachers who were really negative about my performance which really knocked my confidence. I could never imagine making a young person feel the way those teachers made me feel, so my approach is focused on positivity and motivation.’

These words strike a chord with the Tutorfair Foundation team. For us, enthusiastic, positive, motivational tutoring is the best way to get through to a student who feels left behind in their studies. The great power of tutoring is the chance to open the door to a subject and invite your student inside – often for the very first time.

Mehak is one of the first tutors to volunteer with the Foundation outside London – working with students in Birmingham as part of a new project. Mehak’s passion for teaching and her passion for her subject has really impressed us, so we reached out to get to know a little bit more about her.

Hello! My name is Mehak and I am from Birmingham, which is where I have lived for my whole life. I studied Criminology and Psychology at university and graduated with a 2:1 degree in 2014. I tutored a little during my final year at uni but it was difficult to continue with this when I had assignments to submit. 

After graduating, I struggled with finding a job that I really enjoyed. I was a freelance henna and makeup artist, which I did more as a hobby, but I needed a steady job. I worked in retail for a few months, which really wasn't for me. I then got a job as data journalist with a global traffic company. It was a good job, but I wasn't content. 

In August 2019, I received an email from someone looking for an English tutor, which made me realise how much I missed teaching and tutoring. I started tutoring students in my free time, which fast forward to today, I have actually left my position as a data journalist to tutor full time. I have been a volunteer and private tutor of English, both academic and general, for over 6 months now and I have also recently started working as an online ESL tutor. I can honestly say that there is nothing else I would rather do than this. 

When I received an email from a potential student, I decided to sign up to different tutor sites. One of them was Tutorfair, which also had a volunteer option. I really wanted to take part in this because I want to give something back. I was the first from my family to go to uni and I have always been so grateful for that opportunity. I was so excited to meet the students I’d be volunteering with and I couldn't wait to be a part of their future success.

My favourite thing about volunteering with young people is being able to help them improve and better themselves. I love working with young people from all walks of life because it is great learning about their experiences. I also like to see how their attitudes towards learning change or develop. It is so fulfilling to see that I am making a difference. Young people have such interesting minds and they see the world in a different way to adults. I find this fascinating and like to prompt them to use their thoughts and imaginations in their English work. 

I’ve worked with two amazing students over the past 4 months who were extremely friendly and welcoming. When I first met them, they told me they hated English and found it difficult because English wasn't their first language. I told them that I was determined to make them love English by the time we get to our last session. I think it was five or six sessions in when they told me that, since I have been working with them, they have really started to enjoy English. I felt so great hearing this because I had achieved one of the things I set out to do. I have also seen a significant improvement in their work and I am honestly so proud of them both. 

Young people are great to work with, but sometimes you can face difficulties. I think one of the biggest challenges when working with young people is keeping them motivated. Some young people may feel that if they fail an exam (or just get a low mark) they are not good enough. This is definitely not true. I constantly try to keep my students motivated by reassuring them that they can do it. Young people need to know that you are on their side and want them to succeed. If they are constantly told they are not good enough, this can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It really upsets me when I see this in a young student because I know they are capable of anything if they put their mind to it. 

When I was in school I had teachers who were really negative about my performance which really knocked my confidence. I could never imagine making a young person feel the way those teachers made me feel, so my approach is focused on positivity and motivation.

Volunteering has definitely helped me take on a more positive attitude. It has also helped me be more patient and understanding because I was able to work with students who were not native English speakers. Learning a new language is hard enough, but having to take exams based on this new language is ten times worse.

My top tip for tutoring is to work with the student to find out what they struggle with and tailor their tuition to their needs. You should also recap everything they need to know, so their are no gaps in their knowledge. 

To find out more about the Tutorfair Foundation and our fantastic volunteers visit here.
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