Mentor of the Month: Lois

Congratulations Lois, our May 2021 mentor of the month! Lois is currently studying for an MA in Education Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University and plans to become a secondary history teacher. She also has an MA in History from the University of Glasgow. 

Since joining us in January 2021, Lois has already taught over 50 hours of classes and also contributed towards our teaching resources by developing a series of classes on the Victorian era! 

Why do you enjoy teaching English online with Abridge Academy?

It is a great program for those who want to be teachers. You are given the freedom to plan your own lessons, set varied activities and adapt how the content is given to each students needs. It is therefore really helpful in preparing me in the skills that I will need to be a secondary history teacher. Also building relationships with students and seeing their passion for history growing has definitely been a highlight.

How would you describe your teaching approach?

I see each student is an individual that has their own preferred learning styles. I therefore adapt each lesson to individual students needs – what I know they will learn best from and what approach will help build their confidence the most.

Each lesson should maximise the learning for that student, so it should be built around their learning so that they can get the most out of it.

Moreover, I don’t just see classes as a chance for children to build their academic knowledge but also to encourage their love for learning English and to show off their learning. Seeing children excited to come to class is the best evidence that my mentoring is going well!

What do you think is most important for children learning English and why?

Building children’s confidence in English is vital for long term learning. Grammar and vocabulary are of course important, but learning can prove difficult if the content doesn’t feel natural to the student. I make sure that in the first lessons I praise the student for their learning and commitment, and say that it is not vital that they get the questions right each time – as long as they are getting more comfortable with learning English, that is the most important thing. There’s nothing better than seeing a student become more confident in their English skills and progressing on to more difficult work.

What are your favourite topics/ activities to teach and why?

Obviously I enjoy teaching the histories courses, but there are some great reading class resources on the website that I have loved teaching! They are really interactive for the students and make lessons on grammar on vocabulary fun with both the mentor and the student. At the minute I’m teaching a course on space, something which before I thought I wouldn’t enjoy – but I love it!

In the Victorian Era course I wrote mini plays for my students that we acted out to help with learning. These proved really popular with the students and it was great seeing their skills and confidence in acting! They were great for summarising key parts of a lesson and a fun way to interact with students. Fun games at the start of class that review the content from last class are my favourite, as it lets students show off what they remember from last time and it is great seeing them know that they have succeeded in their learning.

What approach do you take when planning lessons?

When I was planning the ‘Victorian Era’ short course I knew that I wanted to teach students key skills used in History and for them to be able to use these independently after the course was finished – so they could adapt and use these skills in other academic ventures. In each class we would debate around certain issues and look at varied historical sources to come to individual conclusions. There is never one right answer in historical thought, so it is important for students to come to their own conclusions using all of the material out there!

I frequently used ‘Horrible Histories’ videos (clips from a popular children’s show on the BBC) and they were so popular with the students! The videos are really amusing and are great for making sometimes complicated historical concepts approachable. Often the children would quote them back to me in the next class, using British accents – very cute!

During the last lesson students had to use all of the information they had learned to come to the conclusions about whether the Victorian time period was a good or bad time to be alive. All of the students really impressed me – they had used all of the content and had come to really insightful and balanced conclusions.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

I had a student who was quiet in the first few lessons and wasn’t feeling comfortable with the historical content. Each week he committed himself to the activities and read for his homework, and I encouraged him by adapting the content to suit his learning style. By the end of the seven week course, he was so enthusiastic about history and answered all of the questions I set him (asking me really insightful questions in return).

It was great for me to see his love for History really grow and to see how excited he got for class to start each week. The positive feedback his mum gave the course was lovely to see and I’m confident that he will go on with great success in History classes in the future.

How has being a tutor influenced your interests in China?

This experience has really inspired me to think about teaching in China. I have always loved hearing about my friends’ experiences there teaching, but never thought that it would be something I would do. After mentoring Chinese students and hearing more about teaching culture in China it is definitely something I will consider after I finish my PGCE year in the UK!

I also love world History and have started learning more about Chinese History because of this program. 

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