be_ixf;ym_202205 d_17; ct_50

“My pupils are reaching up to their potential”

Volunteer mentors at Opening Day with the Tower Bridge in the background

I joined City Year UK in September. However, I wished I had experienced the BTA in August. When I joined CYUK, I was assigned to volunteer with Team Legacy at Sebright Primary School, a rights-respecting school located in East London.

Although I joined the team late, my teammates were very welcoming and helped me when necessary, such as with supervising after school clubs and classrooms. During my first week, it was very daunting as I did not know how to conduct myself — I haven’t been in a primary school setting since my placement in University, where I studied a degree in Childhood & Youth Studies.

My first day, I remember being on playground duty, and I was very timid as I did not know how to supervise and build relationships with children. As time went on, I was able to develop bonds with some of the pupils in other year groups. Whenever the children would see me in the playground or in the corridor, they would get very excited and want to talk to me.

I had the opportunity to work in various year groups, although I was assigned to help with Year 5. I worked with the Year 5s on my very first day and I remember being nervous, and so I requested to support Year 6s. Then I remembered that everything happens for a reason! I believe that the reason why I was chosen to work in that year group was because the teachers saw my potential and ability to work under pressure, which will be great when I work in the real world of child protection.

As time went by, I enjoyed working with the Year 5 pupils more and more. They really make my day. I get the opportunity to work with such a fantastic group of children and see their progress every week. I have ten focus list children (five in two classes) and to see their improvement in their academics is really motivating, to the point that the class teachers see the progress and are very grateful for my assistance. I take five children out during assembly and study, to do interventions so they can practice their spellings and times tables.

With my interventions, I get to experience my pupils reaching up to their potential. For instance, the class teacher would tell their pupils to complete a five-minute frenzy task (a grid with multiplication sums that they need to complete in five minutes or less). My focus list students have always tried their best to finish it in under five minutes and I made it my mission to make sure that they achieve that goal. During my interventions, they all practice the five-minute frenzy grid and recently, one of my students finished it in 4 minutes 38 seconds, making him the 10th pupil to complete the grid in his class.

I also led the creative after-school club, and I had the chance to plan activities for 12 weeks. The activities that I had planned were masquerade mask making, felt animals and door signs. The head of the after-school club was pleased with my ideas, and congratulated me for my efforts and confidence. Furthermore, the Pastoral Lead for the school federation also got to see my growth, and she said that she was proud of my confidence boost.

Alongside volunteering at Sebright Primary School, I am a part of the VM Forum, where I am my team’s representative. This has developed my leadership and communication skills. Some of my responsibilities include leading team meetings and planning events for the City Year UK cohort.

So far, volunteering at Sebright is an experience I can never forget as I have a lot of memories including seeing my pupils progress, helping with parents day, going on trips (such as London Zoo and Royal Courts of Justice) and most of all when some of my Year 5s call me Miss Avocado just to wind me up (but in a good way — they know how to pronounce my name)!

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