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At GT Scholars, we have a great team of volunteer tutors and mentors that are passionate about helping young people learn, grow, and achieve their goals in life. We have regular spotlight interviews with our volunteers where they share a bit more about themselves and why they chose to volunteer. Have a look at our most recent spotlight interview with volunteer Rhys Rawlings.
Why did you decide to volunteer with GT Scholars?
I’ve done some volunteer tutoring before and have been teaching for three years. In March I was stuck at home and saw the news. A lot of the kids were bored, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my learning or exams, and so I thought, I’m going to have to do something about that. So I just naively went on to social media, and I said, “I’ve got a Physics degree, and I’ll do some Maths tutoring for free”, first come first serve. My reach wasn’t very good with my 2 followers and that sort of thing on Twitter. I thought to myself, there has got to be a business or charity or something out there that is doing this work, finding the kids who are struggling. That’s when I found you guys, and I went on your website and I loved it!
There was one thing on the website that stood out for me, and that was it. I read that GT Scholars believes that all young people have their own unique set of gifts, talents and strengths and that all young people can achieve anything they thought. That is exactly what I believe, and so I filled in the contact form and started the application process. Now I’m a tutor with GT Scholars, and it’s been great! It was great that we have the same beliefs, and I also thought it would be nice to give back by sharing my skills with young people.
Tell us a little bit more about yourself, and what got you to where you are today?
I am a full-time tutor, training to be a teacher, and I’m doing that with my degree in Physics and my A*s in Maths and Physics, A levels and GCSE. I got here through grinding hard work, but couldn’t have done it without the help and support from teachers who were willing to go the extra mile. With tutoring, I have an opportunity to do the same for someone else because it helped me. I also believe that everyone can get there through hard work.
Did you have a mentor or tutor before, and did you find it useful?
Yes, I had an English tutor and I was fine with Maths, but really struggled with English. I actually got a D in my English GCSE when I was 16. I was in tears on results day, because I had an English tutor, but then in November, 4 months later, I got my C and it was great! The tutoring was actually perfect, having one-on-one lessons, tailor-made, just for me. My English tutor brought me up to where I needed to be, and I’ve used his teachings as well in my tutorials because it made me feel great and it was really helpful to get me exactly where I needed to be.
What would you say you gained from having a tutor?
I gained insight on how to be a good tutor. I also learned a lot about who I am and my strengths as a tutor. My tutor taught me good learning ethic, so now when I teach, I can do the same thing because I know it works.
How important has support been in getting you to where you are today?
It’s been absolutely important to me, and I couldn’t have done anything without the support. I needed support to get my qualifications, to go to university, to get jobs and to ultimately be in a place where I can do volunteering work as well. So it was absolutely and incredibly important to me because it is important to have an education. Kids need to have an education, you can’t do anything without an education.
Why do you think tutoring is valuable to young people today?
I think that in life you have to find something to do and you can’t just do nothing. Usually, and for most people, that’s a job. To do and get a job you need to be educated, even if something you don’t think it’s needed. You will still need problem-solving skills, numeracy skills and literacy skills. Teachers and tutors provide a toolkit to problem-solving and the knowledge to go out into the world to make a life for yourself, so it’s extremely important even if a young person might not understand it at first.
What have you gained from volunteering with GT Scholars?
What I gained from tutoring for GT Scholars was exactly what I was looking for when I first started tutoring during the lockdown period. I was looking for children who were struggling the most and to be able to help them from the bottom up as far as I could help them. GT Scholars helped me to achieve that. So what I’ve gained is being able to help those who need it the most and know that my time is being spent as absolutely productive as possible by helping those in need. It makes me feel good, and I wouldn’t be able to do that without GT Scholars.
What part of the volunteering process have you found was the most fulfilling?
The look on my tutee, Bruno’s face when he understands how to answer the question or understand a mathematical theory. In my sessions with Bruno, I would ask him how his week was and what they did in Maths. And he would say what they did in Maths, but then I would see the look on his face and that he didn’t get it, and that’s not a nice look. So we would spend time to make sure that it does make sense to him. And to see the look on his face that shows a bit more of the world makes sense to him, nothing beats that. I love it. When I see that, that’s what I find fulfilling.
What do you think is the most important skill that a volunteer or a tutor should have?
I would say the most important skill to have is adapting to the tutee’s needs. I like working one to one with young people more than having 30 kids in a classroom because it allows you to give the young person your full attention and work out exactly what support they need. I think that it is also important to be well-rounded, well-adapted and to be able to change according to the tutee’s needs.
What message do you have for other tutors out there, tutors that want to give their time or want to join GT Scholars?
I find that tutoring is a big responsibility because a tutee will come to you and in most cases say that their teachers aren’t able to push them enough. This is not the teacher’s fault because it can sometimes be hard for them having a class of 30 kids. They’re coming to you and you’re meant to be the person who picks them up. It’s meant to be the teacher, and then it’s you. It rests on your shoulders, and that’s a big responsibility to have, but if you have a good reason why you’re doing it, you’ll be able to do it. You’ll be able to bear that responsibility and be useful. So my advice to other tutors out there would be to figure out why you’re doing it and make sure it’s meaningful to you because that will help you deal with the workload.