The famous American scientist, Harlow Shapley, once said “theories crumble, but good observations never fade” and this is a statement we have been standing by over the past few months in Action Tutoring’s Liverpool region.
Another famously profound quote is: “Forget work, school and responsibilities… it’s the festive season!” (Anonymous, but if anyone knows the author’s name, do let me know…)
As a full-time Programme Coordinator, it can be tricky to keep an eye on everything, so I was thrilled to have four extra pairs of eyes this autumn term, in the form of four lovely second-year Liverpool John Moores psychology students. As part of their degree, the ladies had to undertake a placement of their choice and create a presentation focusing on one aspect of their experience. These volunteers chose to focus mainly on tutor-pupil rapport and engagement techniques; through these observations, the students picked up on the likes of humour, body language, the use of resources and the physical and non-physical environment as displayed in their fantastic quotes below:
“I have found Action Tutoring really beneficial in supporting my desired career choice of counselling, as it has enabled me to explore the importance of the relationship between the tutor and the pupil. A strong and friendly rapport is vital for learning and this is important for me to remember throughout my journey to becoming a counsellor. It’s really important to remember that you won’t always connect with someone, whether it be your tutee, mentee or patient, and this is OK! People learn and relax in different ways. My personal experience at Action Tutoring has been beneficial, eye-opening and enjoyable.”
- Lauren B
“Through my observations, I have noticed that one of the most effective ways to tutor is to build that rapport and professional relationship and then keep working on it. If you can do this, pupils will be engaged and eager to learn, making them more likely to enjoy the subject and do the best they can. The experience of observing has been so enjoyable and I am grateful to have been given this experience.”
- Paige J
“After observing a variety of tutor groups and group sizes, it was clear that having commonalities within the groups makes the pupils work better, resulting in them producing a higher level of work. This has been proved to be enhanced when pupils work with friends, providing they are there to encourage each-other, and have a balance between work and having fun. Positive praise towards the pupils increases their confidence greatly; the positive outcomes from these professional relationships are so much higher.”
- Alice F
Left to Right: Lauren, Alice, Hannah O’Neill (Programme Coordinator for Liverpool), Ellie and Paige
Lauren witnessed an emotionally charged moment, when a pupil turned to their tutor and said “I actually like maths now, thank you”, bringing tears to Lauren’s eyes and proving the impact we have. Lauren commented on how grateful she was to see that moment between pupil and tutor; this is the reason we do what we do, and why we do it.
As we go into the Christmas period and have a mix of calmness and chaos in our lives before welcoming the new year, these reflections serve as a reminder of the brilliant work our volunteers do, our pupils do, and we do. The small details are where the magic happens: the humour, the commonalities, the approach, and the thanks that we give to those who have helped us along the way. Remember to never stop observing; you never know what you might see, hear or feel.
Also, remember to eat as many mince pies as possible, they’re not going to be on shelves forever…