Teaching & Learning


Volunteer Teaching Supporters in the Global Citizenship Programme

Postgraduate students are assisting Global Citizenship Voluntary Sector Programme session leaders through a bespoke ‘volunteer teaching supporter’ role.

Volunteer Teaching Supporters in the Global Citizenship Voluntary Sector Programme

7 December 2015

Taz Rasul (Programme Co-ordinator), Vicki Baars (Session Leader) and Imogen Long (Volunteer Teaching Supporter) discuss what this involves and why it’s beneficial for everyone.

The Global Citizenship Voluntary Sector Programme is a two-week strand of the Global Citizenship Programme offering UCL students professional development and global citizenship skills in the context of the London voluntary sector.

Beginning with two days of teaching, students take part in short sessions exploring issues and themes around volunteering and professional skills development through workshops. They then go on to spend over a week in team placements at selected charities and other voluntary organisations around London.

Using an intensive two-week programme to gain teaching experience

“The role of volunteer teaching supporter was initially created to give postgraduate students the opportunity to observe a teaching session in progress but the opportunity has now been expanded, to involve support from initial planning to session delivery,” Taz describes.

Postgraduate students with previous teaching experience, upon application, are added to a pool of voluntary supporters who are regularly sent details of sessions whose leaders have requested support.

They are then invited to apply to be paired up with the teacher and, following confirmation, liaise directly with the teacher to arrange how the pairing will run.

Session teachers benefit from one-to-one support and immediate feedback

Vicki, Representation & Campaigns Co-ordinator (Liberation), ran a session during this year’s programme highlighting equality and diversity within the voluntary sector.

Her students worked together on projects exploring how to research community issues and how to create marketing materials. The introduction prepared them for the types of team projects they would encounter within a voluntary sector organisation, such as those they joined for the latter half of the programme.

Imogen met Vicki in advance of the session to discuss how it would be run. “Imogen offered lots of valuable suggestions. It was useful to go through specifics such as timings, presentation content and how useful some of the information was. It was also nice to have someone give direct and detailed feedback immediately after the session.”

Previously, teaching support had been facilitated through a short ‘tips and advice’ workshop hosted by the UCL Arena Centre for Research-Based Education.

Taz explains, “By bringing in postgraduate teaching assistants with previous experience, the session teachers benefit from one-to-one support, and volunteer teaching supporters are able to contribute to the strand.”

Benefits for teaching assistants: reflecting on teaching in a different discipline

“Supporting Vicki through the whole process both in planning and offering feedback, was useful as I was able to see another teaching style in action,” says Imogen.

As a UCL PhD student with prior teaching experience, Imogen highlights that the role gave her the chance to talk to someone outside of her discipline and reflect on the benefits of different types of teaching and learning in another context. Imogen has signed up to take part again this year: “I enjoyed sitting in the session as well as assisting in planning and delivery – it was a good opportunity to learn something new.”

Taz describes the benefits from a programme point of view: “Given how many sessions take place, and the organisation involved, I am unable to attend each session and therefore offer immediate feedback on how it went. This role gives session leaders immediate feedback from an experienced UCL teacher and student.”

From a postgraduate student perspective, that they receive clear expectations from their paired teacher in advance means they also receive feedback on how successfully they provided support. “For both teachers and volunteer teaching supporters, the feedback clearly shows it’s a confidence-boosting experience for those not used to teaching or presenting.”