Deyanna Ricketts has been a Brilliant Club tutor since October 2021. She teaches The Scholars Programme and The Brilliant Tutoring Programme to primary and secondary school students at eleven schools in Yorkshire and the Humber and Essex, both virtually and in-person. She designed her Scholars Programme course, Writing Lives and Life Writing, around her passion for creative non-fiction literature. Dey explores this interest in her own studies, looking at creative writing with an emphasis on the effect Life Story Work (an intervention used primarily with care-experienced young people (CEYPs)) has on Life Writing.
The Brilliant Club caught up with Dey recently to chat about the inspiration for her Scholars Programme course and what she has learnt from teaching her students.
“I’m care experienced, so I’ve faced a lot of challenges growing up, but all the way through my passion to become a teacher was my saving grace and really helped with my focus.”
Dey’s experiences with educational inequality encouraged her to fight stigma, a motivation which drives her as a tutor on both The Brilliant Tutoring Programme and The Scholars Programme. She identifies with her tutees, some of whom similarly experience challenges in life. This background has helped shape Dey’s voice, guiding her passions and it is this lesson of perseverance that she wants to teach.
Dey believes that we must encourage students’ self-confidence. Her own experiences have made her staunch in this belief. Dey recalls her English teacher telling her she’d “achieve amazing things” which started her on her own path of teaching and learning.
“I want my learners to take independence and self-confidence from my course. A lot of them, they can do the work and they can do amazing things, but they need someone to believe in them.”
Pairing this ability to believe in oneself with confidence is Dey’s formula to nurturing young minds and their education, irrespective of their stage in learning.
“One of the key aims of my course is finding your voice, we’ve talked about self-confidence and the ability to believe in yourself, the next stage from this is projecting that with your voice, making sure you utilise your voice in your writing, in your talking, in everyday life.”
Dey is tasked with translating her high-level ideas as a postgraduate researcher for her young students to understand and learn. To do this, she has had to learn “new approaches to teaching” and how to “adapt” herself.
“When you become a teacher, you’ll be taught by your students. To quote The King and I.”
“I’ve learned a lot about adapting to different age groups all the time. I have two Key Stage 4 groups, one Key Stage 3 group and two Key Stage 2 groups, this is the first time I’ve worked with a group with such diverse abilities before, it’s been fascinating.”
Being a part of The Brilliant Tutoring Programme or The Scholars Programme is about more than simply turning up to teach, it is an opportunity for growth and development for tutors.
The Scholar’s Programme is the first time many students gain an insight into university life. Dey has experienced some apprehensions about higher education but has had the opportunity to address her students’ concerns during tutorials. She has explained how Scholars Programme tutorials are just like university seminars and ironed out some financial concerns that they were misinformed about.
Dey is ultimately giving students the tools to make informed decisions about their education.
Dey has also gotten to experience some firsts as part of The Brilliant Club community. “This is the first time I’ve designed a course myself; it was brilliant seeing it all come together and then having my learners engage with it and enjoy it. I’ve gotten some really positive feedback.”
Crucially, for Dey, tutorials are a place for community. There is a key relationship that is cultivated between a tutor and their students. This builds a real rapport that creates a great learning environment and community “from start to finish”.
“I am able to help learners improve their English, but we also get to engage in discussions about lasagne and university and independent life skills … It’s about having the funny times as well learning. I’ve really enjoyed working with the Brilliant Club and I hope to continue.”
Interview by Halima Mukhtar, External Affairs Intern.
You can find about more about becoming a tutor with The Brilliant Club here.