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Working for free can really pay off for teaching careers

Volunteering is a fulfilling and active fun way to acquire experience and knowledge, says Bourne Academy Principal, Mark Avoth

Posted by Julian Owen | July 04, 2018 | Teaching

I believe that all young people are guided through the most important years of their life by their teachers. Being a teacher is an incredibly important role to play, encouraging young people to become active and responsible citizens who make a positive and valuable contribution to the wider community.

I also believe that it is not just young people who should have the opportunity to learn and thrive. Teachers, too, need the tools, support and budget to take ownership of their own professional development, and volunteering is a great way to offer staff continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities.

Why volunteering? While we already know the benefits that volunteering offers young people, offering teachers the chance to develop their skills outside of the classroom – the kind of skills they can’t acquire in a classroom environment – is not only the missing piece of the jigsaw, but will also help to raise educational standards.

As teachers, we all know it can be hard to find time for yourself, let alone help run extracurricular activities. As a school leader, I highly value those who volunteer with young people in their spare time. Showing willingness to go the extra mile demonstrates a level of commitment to young people and to the job in hand, both of which are incredibly important attributes.

Extracurricular activities wouldn’t exist without the generosity of teachers who dedicate their spare time to provide students with self-development opportunities outside the four walls of a classroom. I often find that volunteering offers teachers the chance to build stronger working relationships as a member of the school community and enhance their reputation as a leader.

Mark Avoth

For teachers who want to develop professionally, demonstrating skills such as leadership, line management, recruitment, budgeting and planning are all important. These are the skills I specifically look for when recruiting and promoting, and I believe that volunteering provides the perfect opportunity for them.

I often find it is the teachers offering volunteering who benefit the most from opportunities and thus become happier and more confident. It is volunteering that gives teachers a platform upon which to build stronger working relationships with students and parents alike, developing mutual trust and respect.

Effective CPD is a combination of both theory and practice; this is where volunteering to run extracurricular activities, such as The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, can offer several benefits to both students and teachers. Not only does it offer a new perspective on young people, the local community and society, it also gives you the time to create bonds with students that will make the day-to-day job of teaching a little bit easier. I also find that it enables teachers the chance to clear their head of some of the hassles of the job – even if it is just for a few hours a week!

Being able to acquire experience and knowledge is vital for any teacher, and volunteering is a fulfilling, active fun way to do this.

Mark Avoth is Principal at the Bourne Academy, Bournemouth.

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