By Lewis Howell
⏱ Wednesday 9th August 2017

For those who are avid followers of this blog (you are out there... aren't you?) you will know that I delivered my first tuition session on February the 27th, and so by now I have been tutoring for just over a year.  Whilst I love my job, there comes a point when, as a tutor you can become jaded; worn by the hours of tutoring, the lengthy journeys to Tameside or Salford, the planning and regurgitating of multiple lesson plans.  You begin to realise that you are turning into one of those annoying teachers you had in school when you find yourself saying things like 'It's your own time you're wasting' and can become alarmingly aware of how old you are when your students have never heard of the song 'I Wanna Have Your Babies' by Natasha Bedingfield.  I mean come on now, that is a modern day classic.

But every now and then, an evening of numerous PowerPoint presentations, name badges, and a batch of about 50 or so fresh-faced new tutors comes along and breathes a breath of sunny, daffodil-like fresh air into your perspective, much like Spring to the Winter-weary, and you find yourself going to your next session with a bit more spring in your step.

I am talking, of course, about The Tutor Trust's 'Welcome Evening' for the latest recruits, which, for me, meant returning to the Alan Turing building almost exactly one year since my own Welcome Evening, this time as an experienced tutor, there to be on the other side of the Q&A portion of the evening!  With a group of fellow experienced tutors, I was there to be a source of information for the newly employed, who were just beginning training as a tutor, but (cheesy line alert) I actually found myself learning a lot from the evening - and that wasn't just from watching the same presentation three times over, or discovering the fact that there is such a thing as a 'Rockhopper penguin'.

It was from the newbies themselves!  It was so interesting to be on the other side of the process, and answering the questions they presented us which offered a chance to reflect- not only on my experiences in the past year, though it did- but on the way I viewed this job when I first started.

All of the new tutors were so eager; nervous, yes, but they were all armed with their little blue folders, eyes wide as they watched Nick Bent talk about the aims of The Tutor Trust, a reminder in itself of what we are striving to do in this job.  By the end of the night, even following ice-breakers, the dreary-but-necessary health and safety lecture, the fun of drawing the 'good tutor' and the 'bad tutor' and enduring our Tutor Coordinator's multiple jokes for the past three hours, they all stood in the hall of the Alan Turing building, all of them still smiling, and still asking questions.  Their unfaltering enthusiasm was so refreshing.

Whilst I find myself constantly reminded and re-impassioned by my sessions and my experiences as a tutor, it's inevitable that, after having done something for a year, you look at it very differently compared with the way you looked at it from the beginning.  In many ways this is for the better- my belief that the work we're doing makes a difference has been reinforced, I've grown confidence in dealing with pupils, and I've gained priceless knowledge of the abilities of stagecoach buses.  But as I was answering the questions of the new recruits, I was reminded of the excitement I had when I first entered this job, how I had thought of myself a year down the line; tutor extraordinaire, the children of Manchester high schools clamouring and fighting over who would get to have me as a tutor (which I was jealous to find out actually is the case for one of our amazing tutors) because I was the tutor who had raised grades from C's to A's, from Level 4's to Level 6's, the tutor who always had words of wisdom and advice, who never had to be stern because they were so damn charming and intelligent, you just wanted to learn in their presence.

Now of course this type of blind, conceited optimism is most likely a tad too much, I'll admit.  But I think we could all, as tutors, think back to the beginnings of our careers at T-T-T, and, even with the hindsight we have now, try and recapture some of that spirit as we make our way to our next sessions.  For me, recapturing some of that optimism was a really lovely thing to do, and these past couple of weeks I've found myself planning my sessions just that bit differently, and getting to work that little bit more excitable.

And the free wine wasn't bad either.