From Team Up tutor to Teach First trainee

From Team Up tutor to Teach First trainee
Posted by David Walker on 10 July 2020

Malcolm Low joined us as a volunteer tutor last year, teaching English to KS2 and KS3 pupils at Southside Young Leaders Academy in Southwark. He has just started as a Teach First trainee and we are delighted for him. We asked him a little bit about his journey and experience of tutoring with Team Up.

“I'm personally very excited to be joining Teach First. My placements with Team Up allowed me to discover my passion in teaching and I'm very glad to be able to continue playing my part in reducing educational inequality after graduating from University.”

I’ve just graduated as a student at King’s College London studying English Language and Linguistics. I’m the first in my family to enter University! I decided to volunteer as a tutor because I wanted my time at university to be purposeful and enriching and because I knew that supporting other students would be a meaningful way to contribute to society while gaining new skills. Tutoring English gave me the opportunity to practically apply my knowledge in real-life situations even before graduating.

I picked a school that was close to my university so that I could commute easily. The pupils I tutored came from a variety of backgrounds. Despite their differences, I realised that they all share one common trait – the drive to succeed. The nature of tutoring is dynamic; no two sessions are ever the same. The range of curriculum resources and training resources meant that I could tutor with confidence despite not having any prior experience. 

My favourite moments are the ones where pupils encounter a eureka moment - they make the time and effort spend tutoring extremely worthwhile. I remember during the final session of one programme, a pupil came up to me with a note written by his mother expressing her gratitude for tutoring her child although we had never met before. It made me realise that the work I was doing was truly meaningful and I was making a difference.

The support offered by the Programme Managers also allowed me to deliver my sessions confidently. My Programme Managers were always present during sessions to guide and support me – from offering help with managing pupils to making sure that I had the right resources to conduct my sessions. Beyond that, they were also readily available via email to answer any questions I had prior to my sessions. Team Up also provided me with necessary lesson materials that I could use during the session – this meant that pre-session preparation on my part was minimum. This allowed me to juggle between university work and tutoring.

Through the Team Up programme, I’ve gained experience in teaching and learnt skills such as communication, planning, and reflection. I’ve also benefited greatly from Team Up’s leadership seminars where I’ve learnt techniques such as time management and goal setting. I’ve also met other like-minded tutors and was matched with a mentor through the mentoring programme, all of whom I still keep in touch with today. Most of all, I’ve developed a love for teaching which has led me to pursue other opportunities in the education sector.

I  would definitely recommend the Team Up programme. Being part of a group of volunteers who strive to help others in the community is a meaningful and eye-opening experience. Even if one does not intend to pursue a career in education, the Team Up programme is an extraordinary way to learn new transferrable skills and meet new people. Personally, in transforming the lives of other students in my own unique way through the Team Up programme, I transformed my own too.