I’ve been tutoring with The Access Project for several months now and I’m very glad I took on the opportunity. One thing I get asked a lot is whether volunteering is a big commitment and has affected my work and personal life balance.

Balancing tutoring with other commitments 

But tutoring really hasn’t affected my PhD too much as I often have to balance several projects at once. I’m also a qualified Pharmacist so I know how to be efficient with my time. The tutorials take place on university campus so it’s also very convenient for me and I have a good student who really wants to learn, and we have a great dynamic.

The tutorials are mostly student-led. We tend to focus on going over what he has been struggling with in school and in previous tutorials. I then try to bring it all together, this way I don’t have to spend hours planning.

When it comes to planning my tutorials, I go over the topic around thirty to forty minutes beforehand, familiarising myself with it and finding some good questions on different levels to challenge my student. In the session it’s about going through things slowly, making sure he’s taking in what I’m trying to explain and giving examples and testing his understanding as we go along. We also spend some time talking about university life, possible future career paths for him and different courses he could study.

My advice for other tutors 

I would advise other tutors to not overthink these tutorials too much, they definitely need some pre-planning, so you know what’s going on but just to go with the flow of things. I don’t see this as a teacher-student relationship but more as a positive role model sharing my knowledge, trying to help as much as I can. This keeps it quite informal and relaxed and produces a more favourable environment for learning.

The Access Project tutoring has helped me learn more about myself, helping me to better my teaching skills, and to explain difficult concepts in different ways. I look forward to my tutorials as they give me a bit of a break from academic life and allow me to do something different! All in all, I am really enjoying my time tutoring for The Access Project and I am so grateful I began my tutoring journey!