"When I first came to England, I didn’t even know how to speak the language properly let alone get accustomed to the culture - but the teachers I met at school, I can say with certainty, really helped to shape the person I’ve become today!"
Chithu joined us as a first year student studying Accounting and Finance at Queen Mary University of London.
We asked her to share more about her experience tutoring with Team Up:
When I first heard about Team Up through my university's freshers fair, I knew I had to get involved! I am naturally quite shy so this experience was somewhat outside of my comfort zone, but after hearing about the cause of the charity and the goals they have achieved, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.
I worked with two brilliant year 6 students who are way more capable than how they perceive themselves to be! Each week, our sessions would be filled with giggles- maybe a little too many giggles sometimes- but this comfortable environment really helped them break out of the educational restraints they had put on themselves. Both girls were quite shy at the beginning and started the programme reluctantly, but through playing a few ‘brain-break’ games and by getting to know each other more as individuals, they soon showed their true potential.
Instead of one particular moment, what really stands out to me from my Team Up sessions is seeing the visible difference the students have with regards to their confidence. At the beginning, when faced with difficult questions, they would completely lose interest and motivation and would shut off any possibility of getting the answer right. But towards the end of the programme, although getting through those difficult questions still proves somewhat of a challenge, their attitude towards tackling it is much brighter and with more ease.
“One of the highlights of my time with the students was after I had asked them to explain how they got to the correct answer to each other, and seeing their realisation that their knowledge was spot-on, was such a joy to see!”
There were many aspects of the programme that all cohesively fit together that helped me, as a volunteer tutor, to provide the best session I could to the students. Particularly, the fact that there was a bank of pre-prepared activities and lesson plans that we can open wherever and whenever we wanted, really made me feel like I could be more equipped before I went into the school to tutor! The support I received from my Programme Manager, and all the other team members of Team Up I met and got into contact with, really made sure the whole process from the application to the placement was seamless!
The only difficulties I would say I faced during my time with Team Up was having to make sure the students stay motivated throughout the entire session. This was my first solo experience teaching maths to students one to two and so I was not used to trying to keep their attention for a whole hour, especially after school! Learning what to do and overcoming situations when the student breaks down and closes up was also quite difficult and new, but I can definitely say I’m better off with gaining such experiences!
From doing the Team Up programme, I have also been able to really develop my communication and interpersonal skills even further! Although the finance industry I’m aspiring to enter in the future is somewhat different, the soft skills I have gained are second to none. The actual teaching abilities I have been able to learn through observing fellow tutors & senior staff carry out sessions, and through our debriefs after the end of a session, have truly opened up my eyes to how dedicated and sincere teachers are when it comes to wanting the best for their students.
I would without a doubt recommend the Team Up programme to other volunteers even if you think it will be out of your comfort zone. Getting to tutor such delightfully different characters and really see their progress as well as meeting a team of wonderful genuine people, who are all working towards the same goal of helping reduce these educational gaps - it’s hard to find a reason not to join in.
On behalf of the Team Up team and pupils, we say: Thank you Chithu!