Sally is a third-year university student studying psychology and education. She’s a volunteer maths tutor with Action Tutoring.
“I found out about Action Tutoring on our university’s volunteering website, because I just finished some action research about the hostile environment in the UK and I heard how there are a lot of pupils who are disadvantaged and how the hostile environment policy affects their school and daily lives.
“My first session was actually quite quiet. I was nervous – I haven’t been with secondary pupils before. Because English was not my first language I was also nervous about teaching and the pupils were quite silent during the session. I was a bit worried about my English language skills, and especially because I wasn’t really familiar with maths terms in English. But then it seems as I build a relationship with the pupils it gets easier to understand and we learn from each other which is really good.
I would say one of the best things is that we have really kind tutors on the programme and really kind coordinators as well.
“Sometimes we have Bright Ideas sessions after each tutoring session and we discuss how to build on pupils’ softer skills as well – not only maths and English, the subjects we’re teaching. I received a lot of support [from Action Tutoring], either via emails or the booklet. We have a Bright Ideas booklet which has a lot of things we can learn from, for example, growth mind-set and questioning techniques.
At first, I was quite quiet and didn’t know how to encourage my pupils. But then after reading something in the booklet as well as watching more videos, I am trying to use more growth mind-set techniques as well as more open questioning.
“I learnt more diverse teaching techniques, as well as encouraging my pupils throughout the session. The way you talk to them should build on their softer skills as well as the academic ones.
“We’re volunteering because we’re passionate about helping pupils build their confidence, on their maths skills, so maybe let’s just be really passionate about teaching – we don’t want pupils to feel that we just come and go. We also want to build good relationships with them and we can grow together. Try to make sure before you commit to the programme that you are available every week.
“This is really important for the pupils. It’s OK to make mistakes but it’s really important to let
pupils feel they’re welcomed in their sessions.”