Volunteering During University - Molly's Story

March 17, 2020 by Tas F
Image Most of the volunteers working on the Foundation’s Schools Programme come to us having registered with Tutorfair, but we don’t only want to engage volunteers with a private tutoring background. This year, we’ve made a number of opportunities available to students from QMUL and UEL through their volunteer programmes and have really enjoyed the passion for education that they’ve brought to their placements. We reached out to one such volunteer, Molly, to get her thoughts on the experience so far.

Hi, I’m Molly. I am 21 years old from North-East London. I’m currently a final year student at the University of East London studying Early Childhood and Special Education. I have completed various voluntary tutoring roles in the past and I am hoping to become a primary teacher in the future. I am completing a PGCE at a different university starting September 2020. 

I heard about Tutorfair through my university volunteering programme as part of my course and the volunteering hub. I attended the Volunteering fair where I spoke to a representative about how to apply and which skills they were looking for. This was the first voluntary position where they have asked for an A-Level in the subject you want to assist in (just to let you know!) 

I filled the application form online and attended the training at their really nice office where they have mini golf and table tennis tables. Afterwards, the school’s Head of Department for English contacted me to confirm the time and date I was volunteering, then I started straight away. I have since been working as a TA in a Year 8 English class one afternoon a week. 

My favourite part about volunteering with young people is when they understand a concept they didn’t before and hearing some of the things they say sometimes! This might be one student saying ‘you are cool miss,’ or offering an interesting idea that had never occurred to you before. The students do say thank you most of the time, this shows that they appreciate the support they receive from an external person and that you being there is valuable. 

The teacher always thanks me at the end of each lesson which gives me the satisfaction of knowing that I am contributing to the classroom environment in a positive way. Even when the students lose focus (which they do a lot on a Monday afternoon!) with a few prompts and assistance from the class teacher they are normally back on track quickly. The staff have been very supportive throughout and if I had any questions I always feel that I could ask them. The biggest challenge is trying to get a particular student to focus and sometimes you have to calmly prompt them while also building a genuine rapport with them. 

Volunteering in general has definitely improved my practical teaching techniques and taught me how to apply them in various settings. I am able to make a genuine connection with students who are struggling in the education system – just like I did! 

My top tips would be to enjoy the experience and to be patient with the students. Try to learn as much as you can. I would recommend making the most of every opportunity you are given and to try to fulfil as many voluntary roles as you can - while still maintaining the all-important work/life balance!

If you would like to volunteer with the Tutorfair Foundation, you can get in touch at foundation@tutorfair.com or head to our What’s On?  page to see some of the opportunities we have available.
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