This week’s Project Spotlight is on Student Tutoring, a project that lets students go to local primary, secondary and SEN schools to help out in the classroom. I started volunteering with this project this academic year, because I wanted to get some classroom experience before I begin Teach First in September. I volunteer every Monday afternoon with two year 4 classes at Finham Primary School!
This week I was working on poetry with the children. The children had been given a Roald Dahl poem The Pig, and they had to change the words around to make their own new poems. (Here’s a link to the poem if you are interested: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-pig/) They were going to be writing up and doing the drawings for their poem on the next day, and they would be performing them the day after- I was helping them be creative and think up ideas for their poem! One child I worked with, Lola, was really imaginative and we had a good time coming up with her poem. I was trying to let her express herself creatively, so I asked her questions about the subject of her poem, the stupidest of stupid dogs where he lives, bone land (a sort of theme park for dogs who like bones!) and what he likes, stinky bones! To help her make the poem rhyme, we tried to think of 5 words that rhymed with the last word of the previous sentence, Fly: shy, spy, bye, lie, pie, Lola picked her favourite, spy and then came up with the idea for a sentence using that word (which I think was, but he wasn’t a very sneaky spy)- and then we worked together to make it fit! Lola also began to understand the rhythm of the poem really well, we would tap on the table as we said the poem, to see if we needed to add or take away any extra syllables. Lola was really happy with her poem by the end of our time working together- and already had plans on how she was going to draw bone land!
I’ve only been at the school for 2 weeks, but already some of the children are really eager to work with me when I get there, and the teacher, Miss Fox, has really helped me to integrate myself into the classroom!
After volunteering there on Monday, I had a little chat with the headmaster at Finham primary, Mr Machin, about how Student Tutors have made an impact in the school. Here’s what he had to say:
Student Tutors are real role models at Finham Park. They help children see that a student is not just a student, but a citizen, and it makes children want to give back. In fact many volunteers have themselves been inspired by volunteers, some from Warwick Volunteers, and so it creates a very positive loop. But the real power is in the inspiration you give to the children here. 50% of the time it is not a teacher or a parent who inspires a child, but a touchable role model- and that is what Student Tutors are: real active role models.
I also asked Mr Machin about a time when a Warwick Volunteer has made a really positive impact on some students at Finham Primary
About 2 years ago we had a volunteer with us called James who did Right to Read with some year 6 boys. I asked him to pick his favourite book, The Hobbit, and to read this with the children. The change was fantastic. The boys had been disengaged readers, and after some weeks with James they were buzzing to read, and got great SATs results at the end of the year. These boys are now in year 8, and they still have a love for reading! This was a really important mind shift for them, and James was definitely a key factor in reigniting their passion for reading.
I also spoke with Project Leader Vedika who said,
Having volunteered with the project in my second year, I wanted to be involved in a larger capacity. I think I have an affinity with this particular project because it is involved with education and development of children. Especially for young children, I know from my own experience, every bit of interaction they have with a teacher is vital in their progress, and every interaction is remembered. I clearly remember a lot of the things that my teachers had told me, and I love that I am able to have that impact on someone else.
Student Tutoring also enables students to volunteer in SEN (Special Educational Needs) schools. Jane is a Project Leader for SEN schools, she said,
I decided to apply for project leader role as I wanted to take on a greater role in helping the community. I wanted to encourage students to take part in volunteering, as many do not know of the crucial skills set that you can takeaway from teaching or assisting in a classroom. One of the main reasons why I applied for PL is also because I volunteered at a special needs school in my first year and it was such an eye opening experience that I think university students should have at some point during university. It taught me to be empathetic, to listen intently and to be giving. I would never forget this enriching learning experience.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog! If you want to find out more about Student Tutoring you can visit the Project page here: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/about/community/volunteers/volunteering/tutoring