Why Volunteer? - Anum's Story

December 13, 2019 by Tas F
Image Recently, we heard from the Head of English at one of our partner schools in Hackney that our volunteer, Anum, is a “positive, professional presence” working one-to-one and in-class. She stays behind after sessions to “discuss and reflect on student progress” and “engages with the specific needs of students.” Inspired by these words, we took a trip to East London to find out more about the person behind the feedback…

Tell us a bit about you – where did you grow up, what do you do for work?

I was born and raised in the East end of London and I’ve been working with young people for a couple of years now. I started off working in a tuition centre as a one-to-one English tutor, tutoring mainly secondary school students. I then went on to work for a mentoring charity which involved delivering and leading an after school mentoring project to a group of lower year secondary school pupils and volunteer mentors in Hackney. After that I decided to take up a volunteering opportunity that had arisen with the Tutorfair Foundation. The rest is history!

How did you hear about the Foundation? And how did you first get involved?

I was looking for an opportunity that would allow me to put my tutoring skills to the test within a school setting. After stumbling across the Tutorfair Foundation through an online search, I noticed that they were holding a Volunteer training day in conjunction with Teach First and immediately signed up to attend.

The training day itself lasted a couple of hours and was very informative - helping me to understand what was required of me as an in-school tutor when working with young people. I then went on to volunteer at one of the partnership schools in West London for a bit, where I helped to support a group of GCSE students as an English in class tutor.

What are you doing with the Foundation this year?

Having previously had experience working with a group of Year 7 students, I decided to take up the opportunity to volunteer as an in-school English tutor at Oaklands School in Bethnal Green this year helping to support a group of year 7 students for two hours a week. So far it has been great volunteering here and I have really been enjoying it. Everyone at Oaklands has been really welcoming and the staff here are very supportive.

What’s your favourite thing about volunteering with young people?

What has been great is seeing the positive impact you can have on them in terms of motivating and inspiring them to set and achieve their academic goals.
"It truly is great when you see them succeed and fulfil their academic potential."

Volunteering gives the opportunity to focus on giving and helping in their growth and development. It’s interesting to see what comments and answers they will come up with during classroom and one-to-one discussions. You will get some very thoughtful, intelligent and creative answers which are impressive to hear. It is things like this which make me proud to support and tutor young people.

Do you have a favourite moment from your placement so far?

One lesson which stood out for me was when the pupils had to work in groups and deliver a presentation on a character, they had been looking at from Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. It was really fascinating to see how each of the groups worked with each other and the ideas they were coming up with.

I was working with a group who were initially finding it difficult to get organised but came up with a really well put together presentation by the end of the session. I felt that by supporting them in this task I was able to encourage their use of communication, organisation, analytical and critical thinking skills - all of which are essential skills needed for English.

What do you think is the biggest challenge working with young people?

You will find that not all young people learn and understand in the same way and some may learn at a different pace from others. Therefore, it is crucial you adapt and tailor your way of tutoring in accordance to how the young person learns and understands best.

You can do this by differentiating the work. I’ve had to do this with one of the young people I have been working closely with recently and providing more one-to-one support to. I noticed that she was struggling to get to grips with how to approach the academic tasks that were being set. I then thought about helping her to tackle this by breaking them down into mini tasks which seemed to help her understand much better.

What has volunteering taught you? Has it made you a better tutor?

You learn a lot about classroom management skills which you can use when working with a smaller group of pupils. Volunteering has really been a humbling experience and working alongside a teacher is useful particularly if you want to pick up tips on how to best engage a group of young people in the material being taught.

Volunteering can help to build on your confidence when working with young people and develop your communication and assertive skills. I feel there is a lot you can take away from volunteering in-school and implement as a tutor such as delivering tutoring sessions which are fun and interactive.

What’s your number one top tip for tutoring?

A great tip for tutoring would be to ask the young person a lot of questions around what is being taught to check their understanding. You can do this by asking questions which gets them to explain things to you and by using follow up questions to test their understanding on specific aspects of the material. This can help you to keep track of how well a young person has grasped what they have learnt and allow you to assess whether you would need to explain things differently or more than once.

Make sure you praise them for questions they answer correctly or for any great answers they give. At the same time don’t be afraid to correct them if they are incorrect and give constructive feedback to help improve their understanding. Do be patient if you find that they do not understand what you are asking and try to rephrase the question in a way in which they will understand.

The Tutorfair Foundation would be nothing without the fantastic people who volunteer their time, skills and effort to our programmes. The enthusiasm and commitment with which our fantastic tutors approach their placements is a constant source of pride for everyone at Tutorfair. We would like to thank our volunteers for all their hard work this year! To find out more about the Foundation, visit here
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