Tutor Spotlight: Sarah Murphy (Hamilton)

May 9, 2017Tutor Spotlight, Tutoring

What made you decide to become a tutor?hamilton tutor

I’ve always been interested in education. I think it’s highly valuable but is often underrated. Throughout school I noticed that many students, right up until year 13, expected the teachers to almost spoon feed them the answers. There was absolutely no sense of self-direction and it was as though the students hadn’t learnt the content or how to study but instead how to be a cog in the system. Students came to school because they had to – because their parents made them, because they just wanted to pass or even because they weren’t legally old enough to leave. But never because they simply wanted to learn. This is the mentality that I seek to change. Essentially, I became a tutor so that I could try and ignite my passion for learning and education in others.


What were your favourite subjects at high school and why?              

My favourite subjects at school were Biology, English and Health. I loved the way biology helped me to understand the very foundations of life. It was relevant to me (and everyone else) and this made it so much more enjoyable. Although perhaps contradictory I really loved the way there was no right or wrong answer in English. It was all about my ideas and the way I perceived things. Health was a favourite because of the controversial topics we covered like abortion and drug use. I’m big on social issues and the class was a real platform for me to learn about them. Of course, my three excellent teachers helped with the fun factor too.

What subjects do you tutor now?

I tutor Biology, English, Maths and Chemistry.

What are you studying? What’s the most enjoyable part of your degree?

I’m currently studying towards a Bachelor of Science with a double major in psychology and biology. I’m in my third and final year at the moment. I enjoy the self-directed focus and the relatable aspects always keep me engaged.

What do you plan to do after you have completed your degree?

My ultimate goal is to be a registered clinical psychologist in NZ. This would first involve an additional year doing a Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology followed by an application to the clinical psychology programme. The programme itself is a Masters, a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology and an Internship.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like adventures to different places and hiking up random mountains. I also do some volunteering for a non-profit called StarJam where we spend time dancing and performing with kids with disabilities.

What aspect of tutoring do you most enjoy?

When my students finally come to grasp a concept that they have been struggling with I couldn’t be happier. It’s really great to see them with that sense of achievement and feel like we are really doing something worthwhile. I also love when a student becomes really engaged in a subject that they previously dreaded. It’s nice to see students realise the value of learning in and of itself as opposed to just a means to an end.

What has been your favourite tutoring moment so far?

My favourite tutoring moment so far was when one of my students read through a passage of writing and started unravelling it and all the things that needed to be changed. Essay structure was not her strong point and we had focused on it a lot the week before. It was amazing to see such immense progress in such a short time period. It was obvious to me at this point how some students can slip under the radar. It wasn’t an arduous process to teach her these simple English skills but no one had. I was really able to see how much of a difference I was making and how much potential these sometimes struggling students have.

What does Inspiration Education’s vision mean to you?

The part that really resonates with me the most is “young people are empowered with the tools and skills to be the shapers of their own futures.” To me, this means that students are active rather than passive in their learning. It’s about getting students to realise their potential and worth so that they can have more confidence in their learning as students and in themselves as people.

What one piece of advice would you give to students studying NCEA?

Familiarise yourself with the marking schemes. So often I find students go wrong in their assignments because they’re skimming over the criteria. It’s really important that students are fully aware of what is being asked of them so that they can tackle their work in the right way. It is also helpful to constantly refer back to their marking schemes to keep themselves on track as they get going. It’s all too easy to veer off the topic in long essays and reports so this is a means of preventing that.

What one piece of advice would you give parents looking to get a tutor?

Get one. If you’re unsure about the benefits I can assure you they’re there because I’ve seen them first-hand. I always appreciate when parents can follow-up on some of the advice I give to the students too. It gives the students a solid network of people who are willing to help them succeed.

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