With Just Volunteers, I have been privileged to teach for three inspiring organisations in Malaysia: the Rumah Aman Orphanage and Welfare Home, the [Myanmar Refugee school supported by SID] and the YTL Foundation.
Just Volunteers has been supportive and encouraging from the outset. As this is my first time ever teaching, having a strong network of people to support me has been extremely important.
From the start, I was trusted to write my own curriculum, allowing me to follow my own interests and those of my students. This has ensured positive student engagement as the students are selecting elements of their curriculum and so strengthens our relationship. Having responsibility for what is taught has broadened my skill set, making me more confident and self-assured. I have taught a wide range of subjects, from volcanoes and Beowulf to Stoicism and percentages; something I could not have imagined when I started teaching in May 2021.
My students range from 7 years old to 18! It can feel challenging as you try to ensure each lesson is stimulating, supporting the growth of the students’ confidence whilst also developing their learning. Low floor-high ceiling activities are vital as all students can take part and learn whilst also extending those who feel more comfortable with the topic.
It is important to teach using different activities, remembering the limitations of remote learning: games, videos, quizzes, drawing and puzzles keep the classes exciting and engaging. I tailor my lessons to the students and remember, given the time difference, classes mostly occur between late afternoon and late evening in Malaysia, so the students may be tired. For example, I have learnt towards the end of the lesson to have a calming activity.
My students’ dedication and enthusiasm in every single lesson has astonished me. Their excitement at learning and positive feedback has helped me to improve my lessons and made me want to deliver the best learning experience possible. The students are always willing to try something new and take a risk which energises my teaching.
On reflection, my time teaching with Just Volunteers has been a rewarding placement. I have learnt so much. I am really hoping that I can come and teach in person soon.