For the last few years I’ve been a Y11 tutor, I love being a tutor it’s makes for a cracking start to any school day.
My current tutor group had been adored by their previous tutor for four years then after an opportunity elsewhere the former tutor departed and so these students now have me, which I’m not sure they were entirely happy about.
Despite being at my current school for six years now it’s always with some trepidation that I volunteer to be the tutor of a KS4 group. I’m a confident, happy classroom teacher but taking over a tutor group, a sometimes surly group of teenagers as they approach their final year of school is no mean feat. Yet I found myself last year volunteering again to step up. Am I bonkers I hear you ask? Probably. Almost definitely.
I received the list of students and knew only three of them, the rest I didn’t have a clue about beyond the data and the outgoing tutor only wanted to inform his lovelies in the final week of Y10 of his departure. I absolutely understood this and the reasons behind it but it made for a fun September; not only learning who my MFL students were (beyond the data) but also my new delightful tutor group.
Attendance was an issue for some, homework for others, uniform and equipment and punctuality too also based upon consequences issued. A tutor time activities rota in hand and photo list at the ready I was well up for the challenge.
The tutor group filed in, some already looking cross because I was directing them in to seats whilst welcoming them in with a smile and a wave. Thankfully within a matter of minutes they were smiling though some looked frustrated. I’d bought them a welcome to Y11 present, a fantastic puzzle pen and it was proving an interesting challenge for some. I treat my tutor groups to ‘surprises’ every so often, a fabulous new pen, a pencil, a lolly or an eraser. Perhaps if they are really good some chocolate.
The pep talks, the stories and games of getting to know them have been fun and it is my privilege to be their tutor. To help support and guide each of them through the most stressful elements of their school careers to date; deciding on what to do in situations that arise, what they might want to do with their lives and where this might be beyond our 11-16 school and making sure they start the application process.
In the two terms to date attendance is improving, consequences are decreasing and students flock to our classroom bringing friends along for a quiet place to sit and talk, perhaps with a question they need an answer to, to get support or just to eat their lunch and natter. We aren’t perfect but we try our best to do the right thing.
They are a lovely group of young men and women who are worried (and are pretending not to be) about their mocks, their post 16 experience, friendships, doing the right thing and sticking to deadlines, oh and what to wear to prom. They are ace.
We celebrate attendance targets that are met, boost and encourage those that just missed out, quiz each other working through Ian Gilbert’s Thunks, decipher what their future’s might be when they are my age (42!), watch Kid President videos, discuss politics and news stories and ask what we can do to make life that bit better for each other alongside the reading, revision, notices and checking they have the right equipment and uniform to ensure a positive day ahead of amazing learning. It’s a fun start to the day, with decent discussion unless they are particularly anxious, in which case I have to work that bit harder to make sure they smile before they depart for their first lesson. I don’t want to let them go unless I’ve managed to get a smile out of them!
I love being a tutor, I love that they have begun to text / Instagram / tweet / direct message each other if people are missing from registration, that they wrote the names of the student(s) across the doors of the advent calendar of absent peers that they didn’t want to miss out, that they all write beautiful and individual messages to Safyre (the young lady in the U.S. who only wanted cards for Christmas). As I’ve already said, they are ace. And I’m really lucky, and proud, to be their tutor.
With three more terms to go I’m sure the trials and tribulations of teenage life will roll in but I’m certain that my lovely tutor group will do their best to look out for one another, will help and support each other with kindness and a sprinkling of banter to arrive at the best solution for themselves and their peers. Proof of this most recently is those that have had 6th form interviews freely sharing their experiences with the rest of the tutor group unprompted and unscripted to ensure each other are ready also helping each other complete application forms for 6th form providers. It is lovely to see them at their best.
They are, without a doubt, going to become even more wonderful young people who will change the world for the better.
Our favourite Kid President videos available on YouTube :
- Pep Talk
- 20 things we should say more often http://youtu.be/m5yCOSHeYn4
- Pep talk for teachers and students http://youtu.be/RwlhUcSGqgs
And something that always keeps me smiling and motivated. Image from http://www.funnyand.com