Volunteering has been the first step of my career path in teaching

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Chloe Henderson, Art and Writing student, finds her inspiration from young people in Bristol

Two young children in school uniform working at a desk together

I am extremely committed to helping instil confidence in young people and inspiring them to believe in their goals is the most rewarding thing.

In the November of 2020, I discovered Action Tutoring through the University’s volunteering section on the website. I completed an application and attended roughly 7 hours of training, covering safeguarding and structuring lessons etc.

As an English tutor, my role is to motivate, support and engage young people in their reading comprehension, spelling, creative writing and confidence. I have worked with year 7s and 11s and have taught 1- 3 pupils at a time.

Each week I tutor a group of pupils for an hour. I have a workbook that contains key resources and the learning objectives for each year group and what they need to be focusing on in order to pass their GCSEs or SATs. Each week I prepare warm-up activities that recap on the previous lesson and go over any elements they are struggling with. Then I carry on with the rest of the lesson and also give time for the pupils to share their thoughts and encourage them to work both independently and as a team.

My work for the charity has been greatly appreciated as they have really struggled to find volunteers to match the increase in demand, due to Covid. It’s great to help the charity to continue to do its amazing work.

During the pandemic, a lot of young people have lacked valuable in-person lessons and many families have simultaneously been under unexpected financial stress. Action Tutoring gives extra support to students who are on pupil premium. This is something I resonated with as having a younger sister of a similar age I can understand that the lack of in-person time in school has not only had an effect on pupil’s learning but also their confidence in subjects. The first occasion where I realised the impact we had was last year when I was tutoring a Year 11 student, at the end of the term I had been tutoring him he thanked me and told me he felt confident about his exam. This experience has now inspired me to become a teacher myself as I understand the impact of inspiring and helping young people.

Image courtesy of Action Tutoring

In January 2021, when I first started I was extremely nervous and I felt quite inadequate as when completing our training most of the other volunteers were much older and were ex-teachers/tutors. The first pupil I taught online due to school closures. This was daunting and in retrospect having experienced in-person tutoring, tutoring online was much harder and was quite a jump in the deep end considering I did not have any experience in this field. However, having joined in the deep end in a new field I was quickly able to build up confidence with each session I ran.

Knowledge wise, I have enriched my understanding of curriculums and exam criteria for the different Key stages in order to deliver the most successful and rewarding lessons ensuring I increase their chances of getting the grades they can achieve. Additionally, I have been able to expand my skills in lesson planning and assessing the success of a lesson, so I can continue to improve for my students.

I am constantly using my own initiative and creativity to come up with ideas that keep the lesson both engaging and rewarding for the students. For example, creating mindmaps, drawing visualisation of characters in books and having group discussions on books we have all been reading.

As this volunteering experience has been so rewarding and insightful to the world of teaching I have now decided that I would love to become an Art teacher. Volunteering has been the first step of my career path and since I have volunteered to do Art days at primary schools. I gained work experience both as an English and Art teacher at The Cotswold secondary school. Volunteering started my journey and gave me the confidence to seek work experience and other opportunities, so much so that I have been confirmed a place to do my Art and Design PGCE at UWE this September.

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