Volunteering Experience - Rita's Story

Pete Kirby

March 17, 2015

Rita P has had many years of experience as a private tutor, both in Italy and the UK. She's an enthusiastic investigator of the History of Ancient Languages, and studied Prehistory, Archaeology and Classics in Rome and Verona. 

Rita has a huge heart, she gives her time to 3 different schools, helping underprivileged children with Spanish, maths, verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

She volunteers at Pimlico Academy, Highbury Fields, and Wilbury Primary School. She has kindly written about her volunteering experience so far in hopes that it will inspire others to follow suit!

I started tutoring in Italy some years ago, and I still vividly picture a shy girl who happened to be my first student.

I had just finished my Master's Degree in Archaeology and Classics. She was a 16 year old student who attended two different schools, a music conservatory and a grammar school. Studying on her own was a big effort which she found stressful and quite demanding.

At first I thought she probably needed a little more structure as well as a bit of encouragement to keep her focused. I was only there to help her with Ancient Languages, but we soon made a habit of spending some time at the end of every lesson to talk about anything that was on her mind, including her other subjects.

By the end of the year she surprised me. She confessed that our lessons and talks had helped her to become more organised, self-confident and open with people. She then went on to express to me how grateful she was for this.

She soon finished her studies, and now she’s a musician who lives in Amsterdam.

She taught me something too. I learned how important it is to establish a relationship with your student, aside from helping them with their studies. I learnt that lending an ear and taking the time to “know” my students is equally as valuable in helping them perform better in school and in their private studies.

I have since moved to London, and brought my vast experience in education with me! I began tutoring in November, after a comprehensive training day, perfectly managed by Tutorfair. Currently I volunteer in two different high schools and a primary school – exposing myself to students of varying ages, ambitions and distinct backgrounds.

Working with year 11 students everyday has been challenging. Initially I felt that they were doing a great job of living up to their teenage stereotype of being moody, demotivated, unfocused and tired. It took some time for them to accept me. They were shy and rather closed off as they were uncomfortable discussing any difficulties they were having.

After a few lessons they began to open up and relax around me, and subsequently I did too! They understood that I was there to help them unconditionally, which turned out to be the single most important thing to them. Working with students at this age can be really extraordinary, and genuinely wonderful.

I also help a group of Year 6 students who are part of an afterschool special learning program. These younger students were much more welcoming, and took to me straight away!  They were also more demanding of me and the teacher leading the class.

No matter how old the student is, I believe that nothing can help a student more than applying the J Factor: If I can help make the learning experience Joyful, the results are always astounding. I try to hold the picture of my first student in my head and what that experience taught me.  It reminds me to remain patient and dedicated, the rest then comes naturally.

Are you interested in becoming a volunteer tutor? If so click here to get involved, or email Pete Kirby at pete@tutorfair.com we would love to hear from you!