I’ve now been an Access Project Tutor for about a year and a half teaching English. My employer encourages everyone to get involved in the firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility work, which is corporate-speak for volunteering. Some of my colleagues give free legal advice, others volunteer in the local community. But for me, it was a great opportunity to teach again.
I did the Teach First programme between 2013 and 2015, fresh out of university, teaching English at a secondary school in London before going on to do a law conversion course. I’m now an Associate Solicitor in a city law firm.
There are a lot of things I miss about the classroom: the unexpected break-through moments, the continuous comedy of working with young people, even the sheer unpredictability of not knowing what your students are going to throw at you (figuratively not literally).
Tutoring with the Access Project has allowed me to re-live many of the things I loved about teaching. I’ve now been a tutor for the best part of two years tutoring AS Level and A Level English. I’ve seen the progress my tutee has made, as she’s become more and more confident at articulating her ideas and structuring her arguments. I’ve been able to discuss great works of literature – from Shakespeare to Stevenson – with her. And it’s been an opportunity to help a bright and motivated young person from a disadvantaged background achieve her potential – a goal that’s shared by both the Access Project and Teach First.
Having been a teacher, I’ve found planning my tutorials relatively straightforward. Not needing to worry about differentiating for different abilities, or whole-class Assessment for Learning, makes the planning process a lot quicker and easier than for a lesson with 30+ students. Adopting the tried-and-trusted Lazy Teacher’s Handbook, I’ve tried to make sure my tutee does as much of the thinking, and the work, as possible – something which ultimately benefits us both. Equally, being a lawyer has made me much more rigorous in picking apart soft arguments or poor choices of vocabulary, which has pushed my tutee to adopt greater standards of precision in her written work.
I look forward to our hour-long tutorials every week. It is not a big time commitment and it’s a great outlet from the day-to-day routine of an office job. I would absolutely recommend the Access Project to any Teach First ambassadors who have gone into other professions, but aren’t ready to give up teaching for good!