Matt, our High Wycombe Assistant Director, discusses his first month at BYT;
My journey at BYT High Wycombe started in June of this year. Having just completed my undergraduate degree at Exeter, I returned to High Wycombe with a void to fill. I now knew the meaning of the ‘post-degree slumber,’ and felt I was lacking focus and direction. After studying for 18 years and having my life from September to July organised for me, I felt daunted by the reality of adult life.
I got in touch with a friend and found out he had been tutoring since March. He told me that the team was young, the kids were great and that it was a fun, yet productive academic environment. I decided to send in my CV as it seemed like the ideal job for me. I had previously taught English in Spain as part of my degree and had an unforgettable experience, before consolidating some of these skills by doing a TESOL module offered at the university. Some part-time tutoring at BYT seemed like logical progression and soon I began tutoring English language and literature over the summer. From then onward, this void was certainly filled, my attitude revitalised and things are now much, much rosier.
I’ll rewind quickly to what and who sparked an interest in this type of work. A desire to help others and educational background has run through the family. My mother came to this country from war-torn Bosnia in the early 1990s, fortunately with an already high level of English having been rather studious during her time at University. She arrived with some tutoring experience and with a strong desire to make a difference to the learning of others. She wanted to make others who found themselves in this country feel more comfortable and confident in their day-to-day lives, and this was projected in her work as a teacher of English to Speakers of Others Languages. I have looked up to her and her work from a young age and could see how rewarding she finds the nature of her job. She often receives messages from former students, who were initially so low on confidence, still thanking her today for the skills and positive attitude to learning and to life that she managed to instil in them over the course of the year.
Growing up, I always thought “I want a job like this. Something I don’t dread waking up for. Not something in an office, in front of a computer with little human interaction. Somewhere I feel I am making an impact on others.” This is a feeling I leave the office with every day at BYT.
When offered a full-time role at the centre, I was chuffed. Not only would it benefit my own personal growth, but I had the chance to further build on relationships with students, parents and staff alike. We are fortunate in High Wycombe to have families from such diverse backgrounds. From Spanish, Romanian and Polish, across to Nigerian, Pakistani and Chinese. I love hearing different languages around the centre, finding out about traditional dishes, religious festivals and pass-times. I learn new things from the students every day, and that is the magic of working here. Not only that, but seeing a student looking perplexed at a question however simple it may be, breaking it down into manageable chunks and seeing their eyes light up when they realise that they can do it. When students leave the centre having mastered a topic they were scared of when they walked through the door. Knowing they will carry this confidence into their classroom at school and not be anxious about asking for help, because they have already learnt it in an environment where there is no embarrassment if you make a mistake and with tutors who are patient and only want the best for them.
I am still able to continue with my passion for teaching through the Success in Secondary English classes, despite the added responsibilities the Assistant Director role brings. Given that they are largely admin based, I am almost thankful when my lessons come around on Monday and Tuesday evenings as I can enter a different zone where the only things that matter are the stories, poems or articles in front of us and the thoughts of my students.
Having completed my first month I now cannot wait to bring fresh ideas to the table and make BYT a place students love, and look forward to all the rewards and challenges it will bring.