We speak to Community Member, Rosanna Killick, about her tutoring ethos and how she challenges her students every session.
This is the third in a new series of Q&As with Community Members to explore our community and what skills, advice and support it can bring you.
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1. What is your academic background?
I graduated from Oxford University with a BA in History in 2016.
2. What subjects do you specialise in?
History (university level and below), but because English is a core subject, that’s the bulk of my work – A Level, GCSE and younger students overseas learning English as a second language. I also tutor GCSE and A Level Religious Studies, and I deliver Philosophy and Ethics courses to younger students.
3. What is your favourite thing about tutoring these subjects?
They’re all subjects that change and refine the way that people think. It’s amazing and highly rewarding to see the excitement students get from going through this process.
For History, it’s about appreciating nuance and complexity; for English, it’s about communicating more effectively using appropriately selected vocabulary; and for Religious Studies/Philosophy and Ethics, it’s about questioning assumptions and using reason and logic. It’s an absolute pleasure to see students becoming more balanced, articulate and questioning in their thinking throughout our time together.
4. What skills have you learnt in your tutoring experience?
So many skills! Some practical/IT-related, like how best to use software/tools like Zoom, TutorCruncher etc., but I’ve also learnt so much about the importance of patience and flexibility. A skill that I’ve especially loved cultivating is my creativity, especially when it comes to things like creating my own teaching resources, lesson plans, fun activities tailored to each student etc.
To me, there aren’t many careers that are as versatile as tutoring: each student is so different, so your work as a tutor needs to be personalised if you want to be successful.
5. Why do you believe tutoring to be so effective?
I think that it partly comes from the fact that this is time carved out specifically for this student, and this personalised time is something that schools – despite their best intentions – simply don’t have.
Tutoring has a unique ability to make a child feel heard, understood and acknowledged, because you can take it at the exact right pace for that student and adapt as necessary.
So it’s also about the freedom that tutoring brings; it isn’t subject to the same confines that teaching is.
Even if a student is working towards a GCSE, for example, a tutor can go beyond chucking a load of past papers at them. They can adapt and use content tailored to individual interests. As an example, I was recently tutoring a GCSE English Literature student who was feeling really disconnected from school. I gave her a number of different options for what we could base our session on, and she decided she’d like to learn about identifying the conventions of a drama. Rather than throw her in the deep end by looking at Macbeth, even though it’s the text she’s going to be examined on, we went through a script from her favourite TV show, Eastenders. The session we had engaged her in a way that school couldn’t, and I think that it’s because the content was tailored to her that it worked so well.
6. Name one game that you like to play in your tutoring sessions.
I recently discovered a really cool website called Knoword, which has been especially effective in online sessions. It presents you with word definitions and then tasks you to type in the word that the definition belongs to – a great way to improve vocabulary, which is an area I’ve seen a lot of students struggle with. There’s a 90-second timer and it gives you a score at the end, so I make a note of this at the end of each session to give them something to try to improve upon over time.
Every student I’ve used it with so far has requested multiple rounds!
7. What one word would you use to describe your tutoring?
8. Lastly, if you could interview one famous person, who would it be?
I absolutely love the Tudor period, so if I could bring someone back to life (is that cheating?), I’d love to interview Anne Boleyn. I’d find out all about the circumstances of her rise and fall, and I’d tell her all about her daughter, Elizabeth I!