Why did you decide to volunteer with the Student Tutor project?
Working with students and children has always been my interest. I would like to continue to build on my skills and knowledge working with pupils in addition to my prior experience. Warwick Volunteers offered me the opportunity with the Student Tutor project. I was surprised when I saw the option for volunteering at special needs school. It captured my attention because the school setting is new and unfamiliar to me. I want to gain experience in working with pupils with special needs.
What did you gain from volunteering?
I volunteered at Riverbank Academy across both spring and summer term, including the Easter break. I was challenged by many unexpected situations happening one after another every single class. However, the volunteering experience at Riverbank Academy was valuable. It was rewarding to be able to observe the changes and witness students’ achievement and progress over the two terms. I’ve gained more confidence to work independently with students. Also, the volunteering experience is a good guide for my decisions on considering types of teaching career, perhaps a special needs teacher, which contributes to my future career and aspirations.
What difference do you think you have made to the community?
Through volunteering, I realised that there is a high demand for the amount of support needed in special needs school. I am glad that I was able to make some contribution to the class. I offered attention when needed to the students promptly which helped the teacher and learning support assistant from being overly occupied.
What is your highlight / best memory from your volunteering experience?
My highlight from the volunteering experience was when I managed to encourage and get one of the most disruptive student to sit down and complete some written work. Also, it was very memorable when a few of the students were willing to ask for my help at their own initiative when the teacher was being busy. I felt the trust from the pupils and I am glad about it.
What advice would you give to students who want to get involved?
It is important to understand that being able to make changes and help pupils to progress is not easy. Volunteering with pupils with special needs could be more challenging that what one expects. In the beginning, some pupils may refuse your help or be difficult to reach. You may experience moments of setback, but remember to not take things personally. Do not see it as a failure of your own and let it impact your confidence. This requires time. As you continue to commit and persist over time, you would be able to notice their difference and see their growth and changes. You will be rewarded and that is priceless. Be passionate and never give up!
Name: JinJue Lin
Year of study: First Year
Subject of study: Education Studies