Jessica Williamson has been voted Art of Smart’s Campus Coach of the Year for 2020!
Jessica, better known as Jess, has been working with Art of Smart for a year and a half now tutoring English, Modern History and Legal Studies. She is 20 years old and at the University of Sydney studying a Bachelor of Secondary Education and Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and History.
Get to know why our students love her in the interview below!
So Jess, what do you love about being a tutor?
I love building relationships with students and getting to know all different people and this is the job I wanna be doing so, all sorts of fun!
What are some of your passions and hobbies?
I’m Christian so I spend a lot of time at church and youth group. I lead Year 9 girls now on a Friday night, so it’s one of my hobbies I suppose. I coach and play netball as well!
Is there a lesson or skill you’ve learned from it that you use in tutoring?
I think it’s about relationships, getting to know people, how they’re different and what they enjoy so you can connect through that. I think that relationships are really important if you’re gonna guide anyone — whether it’s teaching content or just in any area.
What would you say is your tutor superpower, Jess?
Individualising; it’s so important to change it up for students. I have students of different skill sets and understanding and attention ability, so sometimes I’ll change up the way I explain, for example, an essay structure.
For one student, I can just draw a diagram and talk through it, whereas others I might need them to be more hands on and active. Maybe, I have to have them put some example essays in the order of what they think is right — so just changing up the teaching method.
How do you feel when a student has an ‘ah-ha’ moment?
Ah! So good! I feel like it’s such a wonderful moment of clicking because you feel good that they’ve learnt something.
They also feel good that they become more confident to do it as well and that they can actually achieve something and grow. It’s really, really exciting!
What’s the best ‘ah-hah’ moment you’ve had with a student last year?
It sounds really boring and technical, but realising that English essay questions are often trying to get at the one topic so students don’t have to do a completely different essay for every single question. It’s really the same argument, redone sort of thing.
When they start to see that it’s like, “Ohh, I don’t have to write a bajillion essays — it’s like the one I just wrote!”
Who is your #1 inspiration and how have they influenced your teaching?
I think it’s a combination of my own high school teachers, because they were just so loving and so great at teaching. I take a lot of my teaching methods and strategies from my own teachers!
There are specific learning strategies that I’ve taken from teachers such as using Geolabs and this sort of Jeopardy revision quiz type game, which is especially good for Modern History!
Jess, what is the best piece of advice you’ve given a student?
When it’s getting really close to the HSC, just before exams, it gets to a point where they’ve done a lot of hard work and they just need less stress. What my mum told me actually was, “You just need to attend and attempt.”
Like great job — they’ve gotten that far and they’ve put in the effort. Now, they just need to do the best that they can.
Do you have any particularly memorable moments from class?
The laughs that we have when we’ve bonded over some bad jokes and ways of remembering different techniques they have to memorise — just corny jokes and having a laugh with students mostly!
How important do you think humour is when teaching?
Incredibly high, I just love humour. It’s a good breakup from the class and makes lessons memorable especially if it’s linked to a joke or something, so definitely very useful.
It’s mostly just puns and they love or hate it really!
Tell us about a student success story.
I was so proud of one student. It was the end of Year 11 when I took her on and she was just feeling like she should be doing better than she was.
I think she felt like that a lot of the time and just thought that there was no way to improve that — it was just like constant feedback that she wasn’t understanding but then she got a really good mark in one of her assessments and I saw a complete change in her attitude and believed she could do it.
She started working really hard — she was waking up early and doing practice essays and she ended up doing really well in the end in all of her subjects. She really turned her results around in a year!
What’s something a student has taught you?
There are lots of little fun things like little fun facts about the world and stuff, but in terms of character building, I think just that dedication can really pay off and has quite big impacts as well.
It can sometimes be tough when you don’t feel like you’re improving much, but little by little it can pay off in really big ways. Sort of like a ripple effect.
What made you want to become a high school teacher, Jess?
I think it’s a great position to be in as you’re teaching the future generation and shaping them as well. It’s a really good position because I can help people as well as influence them!
Do you have any advice for your students?
It’s really good to know that if you put in the hard work, it’ll pay off but also to remember that this isn’t everything. Like, the HSC is important and it teaches you lots of skills and it can help you, but life’s much bigger than that as well.
What is your favourite book?
So many! I loved ‘Boy Swallows Universe’. It’s won a lot of awards — it’s a book by Trent Dalton.
I really like the writing, it’s just beautiful imagery — just all these metaphors that are so relatable but not cliche. Like, “Yes! That is what that feeling is!” and you just really feel connected to the characters very quickly.
Lastly, a book you wish was in the English curriculum?
Maybe ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’. It’s got a whole analogy, it’s awesome.
And that’s why Jess is our 2020 Campus Coach of the Year!
Looking for some extra help with HSC English?
We have an incredible team of HSC English tutors and mentors like Jess who are new HSC syllabus experts!
We can help you master your HSC English related text and ace your upcoming HSC English assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!
We’ve supported over 6,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 19%!
To find out more and get started with an inspirational HSC English tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!
Gabrielle Wong is currently the Digital Marketing Assistant at Art of Smart. She is a second year student at the University of Sydney studying a Bachelor of Arts/Advanced Studies majoring in Media and Communications and Marketing.