ITG Tutors: Charlotte Blair
What made you decide to work for ITG?
Prior to joining ITG, I was working in a secondary school in London where I helped teach English, drama and art. When the academic year ended I was looking for tutoring work in London which I anticipated doing until January 2020 – the month I had planned to leave for a big travel trip around South America. However, life has a funny way of presenting you with opportunities when you least expect it and, when on the website of a London tutoring company, I saw an advertisement for an English literature position at ITG. I researched the company and toyed with the idea of moving to Vietnam; somewhere I had never been but had heard wonderful things about through family and friends. Although learning about ITG was completely serendipitous, I eagerly applied as the company and the position looked fantastic. I was then offered a job and about a month or so later was on a plane to Ho Chi Minh City.
What do you enjoy most about working at ITG?
I love my job because my role as a tutor sees me assist learners in achieving their academic goals while guiding them through any academic struggles. It is incredibly rewarding when you see first-hand how your efforts have helped improve a student’s grades and it is always a very special moment when they come into the centre, bustling with excitement and pride, to tell you how well they did in a recent assessment.
What’s more, the intimate dynamic of tutoring facilitates the possibility to take a step back and sit with your learner and reflect on where they are both emotionally and mentally. I have found – especially with my older students – that the mentoring approach underpinning ITG’s services promises a much-needed opportunity for those who are worried about their workload, grades and/or upcoming assignments to voice their concerns to a trusted adult. Taking the time to help these students realise just how well they are doing while reassuring them that as a tutor, I am always there to listen, takes a tremendous amount of pressure away. This not only strengthens the tutor-student relationship but helps to rekindle a student’s love of learning, facilitating them with the mindset – positivity, confidence and trust – that enables them to thrive.
Which of your teachers from school or university inspired you the most and why?
At university, my first teacher was Peter Sloane. I was instantly inspired and mesmerised by his deep passion for literature as well as his personal story. Leaving school with just one GCSE, his working life began in a factory and in his spare time, Peter would enjoy reading his uncle’s books. University, however, was ‘just a daydream’ until beginning an Access to Higher Education course which lead to him studying an English BA at Bristol, then an MA, and finally a PhD. Peter’s story is incredibly inspiring as it illustrates how dedication and passion can lead to astonishing opportunities!
What’s more, the first unit I studied at The University of Bristol was Critical Issues where we looked at a range of contemporary literature, including the work of David Foster Wallace. I know now that Peter completed his PhD on Wallace himself and is, therefore, an ‘expert’ on the writer and all of his work. However, during tutorials Sloane never presented himself in such a way; he would welcome each and every idea, no matter how amateur or ill-informed, while never once making any question seem too obvious to ask. His humble and nurturing approach created a space that cultivated self-belief, imbuing us students with the confidence to engage in literary debates and the conviction to see ourselves as valued critical readers.
Do you have a favourite topic to teach?
I really enjoy teaching poetry, primarily because it provides such a unique opportunity to get to know my students while educating me on different interpretations of works which I already know and love. When we read a poem, or any fictional text for that matter, we project onto it a little bit of our self and it is fascinating for me to compare and contrast how poems are seen and understood by my different students.
What three things would you bring to a desert island?
A hunting dog, a notebook and a pen.