What's your teaching background - are you brand new to it, or have you taught in some capacity before?
I’m pretty new to teaching, although I spent some time teaching English abroad in France in my early twenties. I’ve never tutored the subject I’m now volunteering in for Tutorfair (Physics) but the syllabus hasn’t changed too much since I did my own A-levels 12 years ago, and there’s quite a lot of overlap with my Engineering degree. So teaching hasn’t been too much of a steep learning curve!
What initially made you want to get involved with volunteer tutoring?
I think volunteering is a brilliant way to really make a difference to individual students. With the pandemic especially, educational divides in the UK seem to have got so much worse. Over lockdowns, most private schools were able to provide a full programme of online teaching to their students, whereas students at under-funded state schools often missed out on huge chunks of the syllabus as there just wasn’t the funding or infrastructure to deliver it. We should be working towards a society where your family’s ability to pay doesn’t dictate your educational outcome. I think one-to-one tutoring can play a really important role in trying to redress that balance.
How have you found tutoring online? Has it worked with your lesson style?
I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy teaching online, but actually it’s been fine! For Physics A-level, the online whiteboard we use works really well: I can paste in diagrams, or past papers, and draw on the whiteboard with a ‘pen’ just as I would in real life. The online platform has actually made it possible for me to volunteer, as I wouldn’t have time on weekday evenings to travel somewhere to teach in person.
What have you found rewarding about the programme so far?
It’s been fun re-visiting my A-level Physics material and teaching it to a student who is really engaged, and passionate about the subject. It’s also nice to feel like I’m doing something positive that is so direct and tangible. I’ve got to know the student I’m working with, and really enjoy the lessons. It’s great to think that I could make a real difference to someone’s education - and even their future.
What would you say to potential new volunteers who are thinking about signing up in the future?
Definitely get involved! It’s really easy to fit into your week (I do one hour on a weekday evening every week) and incredibly rewarding.