The pupils that I have worked with have all been very enthusiastic to learn. It’s clear that many of them don’t have the opportunity in class or at home to ask questions about certain pieces of work. It has been a really fulfilling experience helping them to learn, based on their own questions and curiosities.
I am a third year undergraduate student at King’s College London, studying politics and economics. I was drawn to volunteer at Team Up in my first year at university because I wanted to take part in an extracurricular activity that made a difference. I found Team Up in the first week of university and decided it was a good way to apply my learning from high school to help others. I was curious and excited by the prospect of teaching. I have always enjoyed doing presentations and explaining things, and the idea of being a tutor for young people really appealed to me.
The pupils that I have worked with have all been very enthusiastic to learn. It’s clear that many of them don’t have the opportunity in class or at home to ask questions about certain pieces of work or certain exercises. It has been a really fulfilling experience helping them to learn, based on their own questions and curiosities. Some pupils have been a lot more confident than others, and I can see why some students have done worse academically out of fear of asking questions or getting the wrong answer. Nevertheless, all the students I have taught have definitely grown in confidence over the Team Up programmes. I’ve been able to see this by their participation in the classes, which has increased week by week!
I have really enjoyed engaging with the students and getting them to learn through activities. An event that stands out for me was playing a “Dragon’s Den” game with English students learning to write persuasive speeches. The students came up with their own idea of a product and then had to pitch it to the others – the ‘dragons’ – and during their pitch they had to use argumentative tools that they could also use in their essays. The students had a very lively debate and made lots of progress in their argumentative skills! Then, at the end of the session they did a written assessment to put these skills into practice and they all did well.
The tutor and student learning ‘packs’ provided by Team Up work very well to give the lessons structure. This makes lessons very smooth and accessible from both the student and tutor perspectives. The topic tests and assessments have really worked well for tracking student progress. The students have really enjoyed having grades and feedback to match their hard work, and I’ve really appreciated seeing their progression as their tutor.
One difficulty I have overcome whilst working with Team Up is managing differences in ability between students in a group. This can be particularly challenging as the less-abled students can get very discouraged by comparing themselves to the others, whilst the most-abled students tend to lose interest as they do not feel challenged. I have overcome this difficulty by giving separate tasks for the students or by giving some students ‘extension exercises’ where they can go deeper into a certain topic. The second option has the advantage of allowing students to continue on the same questions and topic, which is good because it means they can collaborate and help each other. Helping them to learn from one another's work can be just as important as tutoring them!
From Team Up, I have gained many transferable skills in communication and pedagogy that will be useful throughout my professional and academic careers; explaining things clearly and concisely is important in almost every field. The pedagogy workshops and resources Team Up provided are full of teaching tips and ideas from education theory. I have also gained insight into the challenges young Britons face in educational attainment. As a social science student, I have found the programme fascinating as well as fulfilling, and I feel privileged to have been able to discover the stories of the pupils.
I would recommend Team Up to other volunteers who would like to make a difference in young people’s lives whilst developing personal communication and teaching skills. I would recommend Team Up to university students, in particular, as we have quite a good understanding of the current high school curricula and the challenges of being a school pupil. Helping the pupils who need it most is a unique and rewarding activity that fits with most university students’ timetables.
On behalf of the Team Up team and pupils, we say: Thank you Adam!