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Can you tell us why you decided to volunteer with GT scholars?
I decided to volunteer with GT Scholars because I felt that my background in teaching could help students who are struggling with school work. So I felt I had something to offer.
Is that why you decided to volunteer in general? Have you volunteered before?
No, I haven’t volunteered before. Yes, that is why I decided to volunteer with GT Scholars.
Can you tell me a little bit about you and what got you to where you are today?
Well, as I said, I have some sort of background in teaching, and I realised there are lots of people out there who need help with teaching. And because I know lots of things to do with English, I thought I could help with GT scholars.
And have you ever had a mentor or a tutor before?
When I was in University, I had a mentor and a tutor. And that experience of having a mentor and a tutor in University, which helped me through my course, made me realise just how important it is to have a personal mentor and a tutor for educational purposes.
What did you gain from having the mentor and the tutor?
Well, just like in school, when you have lessons and you’re noting down things or things that you find difficult or things you find embarrassed to talk about in public before other students. You can have a mentor and a tutor, as I did in the University, that you could bring up with things that you found difficult or things that you’re just, as it were, perhaps maybe too embarrassed to say you’re struggling with and that personal connection that you form with a tutor helps you improve not only your personal confidence, because that’s an important thing that you help students personal confidence, but you also help their educational confidence. They’re able to understand things more clearly.
How important do you think the support has been from the mentor and the tutor in getting you to where you are today?
Well, it’s great to support, first of all, the self-belief that you have; a self-belief in the classroom when you don’t understand things and you continue not to understand things or find things too difficult, you lose self-belief. The mentor gives you that self-belief because you begin to understand things. You understand, they’re not so hard, and it’s not beyond you. And ultimately, I think the tutor or mentor helps you reach your potential, both as an individual and also educationally. Once you reach your potential, then you can exceed your potential. So, a tutor is very very important
Why do you think tutoring is valuable to young people?
I would say one of the principal values of tutoring is learning how to communicate your difficulties beyond “I don’t understand” or “it’s too difficult”. It also helps the students focus on what they find difficult. So they learn how to focus on the bits they find difficult, on the bits they don’t understand. And that’s the benefit of tutoring is that a student begins to look at themselves as a learner more than they have a tendency to look at them, learning things. They look at themselves.
They understand what they’re good at, what they’re bad at. They understand how they think. It teaches them how to think. We tend to think that thinking comes naturally and it does, of course, but there’s a way to think and better ways to think. I think all the skills it teaches you, all of those the cognitive skills that you need, and it teaches you to examine your own self cognitively. And that is an important thing about tutoring.
What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?
My principal gain from tutoring with GT Scholars is the personal satisfaction of having a pupil come to me with disbelief in themselves and an array of difficulties that they think are beyond them. And then at the end of the tutorial, not only understanding how to deal with those educational difficulties but equally understanding how to process information and how to think about information and then how to do school work. It’s that personal satisfaction of having someone who doesn’t feel, they feel that school is not for them. It’s not their place. And to come out thinking that school is for them, it is their place. Learning is their place. And in some cases, having students have their horizons expanded rather than just closed horizons. Those are the things I’ve got from volunteering.
What part of the entire volunteering process have you found the most fulfilling?
I think the most fulfilling thing is helping with their English literature score. That’s always fulfilling because you can really bring out the flavour of literature and poetry to people and enhance their understanding of poetry. That’s one thing. And also teaching students grammar and punctuation. Because when you say grammar and punctuation It’s like Kryptonite to most students. They get scared, they panic. But when you can explain it to them and then it makes sense to them. Once it makes sense, then they can make sense of their own writing and how to write.
So those are the two things I’ve gained, exposing students to literature and understanding just how interesting and important it is, and equally exposing them to understanding grammar and punctuation.
What do you think the most important skill is to be a volunteer tutor?
I think the most important skill is being a volunteer person, you have to want to help. It’s a willingness and a desire to help people and particularly young people. And that is the most important skill you need. I think once you have that willingness to do it, any work that you have to do will propel you to do that. It’s willingness. I would say willingness.
And then is there anything else you’d like to add about your time as a volunteer at GT Scholars?
Yes. I would just say to other people who want to volunteer with GT scholars. It’s only 1 hour every week, so it’s not a great amount of time and you can interact with students, many of whom I’ve come across do want to learn, they just need some guidance on how to learn. And there is a deep satisfaction that you get when you turn students around and they become self-motivated learners.