At Staffordshire University London, we take pride in the diverse journeys our students embark on during their academic careers. Today, we shine a spotlight on one of our exceptional students who has seamlessly integrated his studies with real-world experiences, finding a fulfilling part-time job as a teaching assistant at a local primary school.
Meet James Gallimore, a Level 5 Game Design student, whose remarkable story began when he became a Student Ambassador for Staffordshire University London. Little did he know that this role would open doors to a fulfilling role as a teaching assistant at Jenny Hammond Primary School in Leytonstone, working with Just Curious Club Ltd.
The journey started at the Big Creative Academy Hackathon Day 2, where James met Dave Darch, the founder of Just Curious Club Ltd. This encounter eventually led to a part-time position that combines James' passion for game design with his newfound love for teaching.
In his role as a teaching assistant, James assists in running an after-school club at Jenny Hammond Primary School. For 2 hours and 30 minutes, children from year 1 to year 6 engage in various creative digital activities, from learning Scratch to exploring GarageBand. It's a hands-on experience that challenges James to apply his game design skills in a different setting, fostering creativity and problem-solving in the young minds they interact with. James reflected, “It can be a little bit of a handful sometimes, especially with the younger kids, but it’s so heart warming to see them reach solutions to problems. They also ask me a lot of questions about life as a university student and life as a grown-up.”
Beyond the technical aspects, James lays a crucial role as a mentor, answering questions about university life and adulthood. The position requires patience, adaptability, and a warm, welcoming attitude – qualities that James possesses in abundance.
While James' course may not directly teach childcare, the skills gained in his course, Computer Games Design have proven invaluable. James stated, “My course does teach me how to use my own intuition and imagination to find solutions to problems, no matter what I am doing. For example, a child was having a problem with their Scratch project, and I was able to use my knowledge of the different types of variables to not only teach them what they are, but also how to fix the problem”.
The ability to use intuition and imagination to solve problems is a transferable skill that James applies daily. Teamwork, a fundamental skill emphasised in his course, is crucial when working with students, as inspiration flows in both directions. James reiterated, “You need to be open to be inspired by someone who may be less experienced than you are, and even though sometimes the kids come up with the craziest solutions to problems, sometimes they work, and I apply the same theories they devised in class into my assignment work”.
James advises fellow students to be open to opportunities, emphasising the importance of presenting oneself professionally. He mentions, “Be open to anything, you don’t know who you’re going to meet and where so always look and sound your best. I got the position at the school because Dave liked my work ethic and my warm welcoming attitude to new people and ideas”. His success at the hackathon, despite limited coding knowledge, highlights the value of playing to one's strengths and demonstrating a willingness to learn. Establishing a professional online presence through platforms like LinkedIn is also recommended for networking and job opportunities.
Acknowledging the support received from academic staff and professional services team, James expressed gratitude, “Oliver Rippon helped me discover what being a university lecturer entails and how he started his job in teaching. From there, I talked to Christopher Harding, Rikamae Paderes and Leigh Evans about their journey to becoming a University Lecturer. They all gave me great advice as to what to expect, the troubles I may face, smart ways to get into the industry and how to make the most of my time at university. I also really appreciate all that the Student Ambassador team has done for me, as Sammy Engele has given me a lot of opportunities to go to colleges and other schools to promote the university, as well as lead workshops which gave me a lot of experience with how to manage a classroom.” The open and friendly atmosphere at Staffordshire University London facilitated discussions about James’ newfound passion for teaching, leading to valuable insights into the journey of becoming a university lecturer.
Balancing academic commitments and job responsibilities can be challenging, especially during deadline season. James shared his strategy of dedicating weekends to university work and utilising every moment during teaching sessions to maximise productivity.
James serves as an inspiring example of a student who has successfully blended academic pursuits with practical experiences, discovering new passions along the way. His journey is a testament to the diverse opportunities available at Staffordshire University London and the support provided by our dedicated academic staff.
If you have any questions or want to connect with James, feel free to reach out at email@example.com.