museum curator

Guest blog from volunteer Lizzie Nicholson

Lizzie Nicholson: My SHARE with Schools

Hi!

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One of the hardest parts was keeping the children engaged

I’m Lizzie Nicholson. I’m in my first year studying Archaeology BSc. I thought SHARE with Schools was a great opportunity to meet other students, help develop my skills, introduce me to a career in schools and to do something different outside my degree programme.

I did workshops for students years 7, 8, and 9. The workshops covered archaeological science and museum curation. First we had to present to the children what we were going to be doing and tell them a little bit about archaeological science techniques or museum curation. One of the hardest parts was keeping the children engaged, but I managed this by making sure I knew what I was talking about and engaging the students with questions.

The workshops themselves were really good fun because they were so interactive and it was something different for the children to get involved in. The museum curation workshop was good because it encouraged the children to do a lot of different things including drawing and research. They were really enthusiastic too, as it was very hands on and they had the artefacts in front of them. This raised its own problems though, as the children were easily distracted with having all the artefacts in front of them. It was difficult to keep the children on task, because I was just as interested in them all as the children were! An improvement in the future would be to encourage the children to complete the tasks before experimenting with the objects instead of experimenting with them!

The archaeological science workshop was a little harder because the children didn’t understand the methods so well so I had to explain that to them carefully, but it got them thinking a lot and using a cluedo-style game at the end was really fun.

I felt quite nervous for the first workshop I did because even though I knew what to do I didn’t really know what would happen. I overcame this quickly though because the first group of children were fantastic. Although the other two groups we had that day – for archaeological science – weren’t quite as enthusiastic, I felt all the workshops went well as I was able to engage the children with the help of other staff. This was one of the biggest challenges. The second set of workshops I did I felt much more prepared for as I already knew what was likely to happen. This was the museum collections workshop, so the children were much more engaged throughout this one as it was very practical.

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workshops boosted my confidence a lot and helped me with public speaking

Overall, I think all the workshops I took part in went well. I enjoyed it particularly because the workshops I was delivering were on subjects I really enjoy and am passionate about, and communicating this and inspiring other people in the subject areas was a definite highlight! We had a lot of positive feedback, and the teachers who got involved in the archaeological science workshop really enjoyed it. I think the pupils enjoyed the workshops too, because they were engaging and practical and something most of children had never really done before. Plus it was different to a normal school day of maths and English which is always a bonus!

Personally, the workshops boosted my confidence a lot and helped me with public speaking – I nearly always speak too fast. It also helped with team building a lot because, the archaeological science one in particular, I had to work with the other volunteers who would come round and add additional information to help out with identifying the skeleton. Leadership skills were something else I had to develop, because I was working with a group of 4 or 5 children and had to make sure they kept on task and moved forward when they needed to. Leading and working with children was quite different than with people my own age, so it was interesting to make that transition and appreciate the diversity within the group, such as their individual styles of working.

I really enjoyed all the workshops I took part in, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who knows they want to work with children or is thinking about it but isn’t too sure, to anyone who want to build a range of transferable skills, and anyone who is looking for [something] a bit different that’s still a lot of fun.

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Guest blog by volunteer Kelsey Clarke

Kelsey Clarke

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What if these children knew more than me? What if they asked me a question and I couldn’t answer? What if I mess up?

During my first year at Cardiff I wanted to sign up to volunteer with SHARE with Schools, but I convinced myself that I did not have enough knowledge to go out and deliver the workshops. What if these children knew more than me? What if they asked me a question and I couldn’t answer? What if I mess up? – All these questions flew around my mind, and I didn’t sign up. I immediately regretted this after talking to Jodie, a SHARE with Schools volunteer in 2013/14, who reassured me that it would be completely fine. She was right.

As a second year Religious Studies student, I was still nervous that I wouldn’t know enough but I signed up. I then signed up to numerous training sessions and was pleasantly surprised that not only did I know more than what I thought, but almost everyone was having the same thoughts as me about delivering the workshops. Catherine and numerous other co-ordinators made me feel at ease during the training sessions. They explained everything with clarity and ensured everybody was on the same wavelength for every single workshop.

Every time I signed up to go on a visit, Cath would send out all of the crib sheets as soon as possible. This was brilliant for preparation purposes, and it also enabled everyone to edit the crib notes to suit themselves.

Mountain Ash school with snowy peaks behind

Mountain Ash Comprehensive School

My first SHARE with Schools visit was to Mountain Ash Comprehensive School. I’m from the Cynon Valley area and it was amazing to go into a local school. On the morning of the visit I had so many nervous butterflies, but I decided these were a good sign. It showed that I genuinely cared about what I was doing. Throughout the day we delivered 2 x ‘Romans in Wales’ ‘The Three Orders of Medieval Society’ and ‘Life in the 19th Century Cynon Valley’, and the group grew more confident with each workshop, and although my butterflies were there throughout the visit, it was just a constant reminder to me that I wanted to do a good job with all of the workshops and really make an impression on the pupils. We delivered the workshops to pupils from years 7-9 but with varying academic abilities, including SEN [Special Educational Needs] pupils. All of the pupils engaged so well with everything, they loved the ‘hands-on’ parts of the workshop and this also drew out the best in them. The objects brought to life what we had previously spoken to them about, enabling their understanding more.

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SHARE with Schools has definitely been one of the highlights of my second year, and I can’t wait to see what next year holds!

My second SHARE with Schools visit was to Pencoed Comprehensive School. We delivered 2 x ‘Who wants to be a museum curator?’ here and it worked so well with the pupils. I was genuinely surprised at how much some of the children knew about museums and how enthusiastic they were about the idea of creating their own display. I believe this worked well because although the pupils had to create their display and find out about objects, they had free reign in doing so. The results of their work were amazing.

I can honestly say that I did not see anyone not doing what they were supposed to do or messing around in any of the visits. All of the pupils were polite and treated both the objects and the SHARE with Schools volunteers with the utmost respect. They were a credit to their schools.

SHARE with Schools has provided me with a plethora of transferable skills which I can use in the future. The whole SHARE with Schools experience has reassured me that I definitely want to apply for a Secondary Education PGCE in RE, and that it is well worth pursuing a career in teaching. SHARE with Schools has definitely been one of the highlights of my second year, and I can’t wait to see what next year holds!

Guest blog by volunteer Beth Cox

Beth Cox

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providing kids with something different from their ordinary lessons and letting them handle genuine Roman pottery really captures their attention so I’ve rarely encountered problems with discipline

I went to my first ever SHARE With Schools Project event early in my second year and I was terrified: terrified I wouldn’t know what to say, terrified the kids wouldn’t listen; terrified I knew nothing about the Romans. But I loved it! I came home, signed up for ever other one that year and promptly fell asleep for three and a half hours. The enthusiasm from the kids was amazing and the feedback from the teachers (who like dressing up just as much as the kids!) encouraged my want to teach ten-fold. The teachers are really supportive and offer great advice if, like me, you want to go into teaching. Going into my third year at Cardiff University, I told myself I would only do one or two-naturally this turned into three or four. It became sort of addictive: not only to want to teach these children who you can genuinely imagine running home to tell their parents about us, but also the opportunity to talk to other students with the same love as you. Over the two years I have been involved, I have done most of the workshops including Roman Wales and Museum Exhibition. I went into this knowing nothing about the Romans at all and this worried me because how could I teach it if I knew nothing about it? But the crib sheet is easy to use and if you ever get stuck or lost, another team member will step in without even blinking. I have now taught all ages and in a variety of schools including one solely for children with special educational needs and Willows High School which is about to be featured in the latest in the ‘Educating’ series, Educating Cardiff.

For most of them I felt I was prepared, though I do feel the crib sheets should be available somewhere in advance rather than being emailed a few days beforehand but I’m one of those people who have to do things in advance! The latest project I was involved in was a series of workshops at Caerau Hillfort where the original activity we had planned couldn’t happen so we had to switch activities last minute. By the end of the day, the children were quite restless and I ended up doing part of my talk about medieval clothing relating it to Game of Thrones-either complete genius or I’ve ruined the series for them…But by providing kids with something different from their ordinary lessons and letting them handle genuine Roman pottery really captures their attention so I’ve rarely encountered problems with discipline. To improve on my role in SHARE [with Schools] (though I’ve sworn not to do anymore, we’ll see how long my resolve lasts!) I would read around subjects I feel less comfortable with such as the Romans.

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this project was my most talked about experience and it fascinated all the interviewers

I’ve just come back from teacher training interviews and, though this project should not be considered solely for those who want to go into teaching, this project was my most talked about experience and it fascinated all the interviewers. It gives you first-hand experience of a classroom setting and being a reflective practitioner as well as demonstrating team work, thinking on your feet and organisation. For those who want to teach in Wales, it is also a massive networking opportunity. I was offered positions in a school after one session and I ended up doing a couple of days observation at this school-which worked out great at interviews as I could say I might be on Educating Cardiff! If anyone is thinking about doing this, it’s so simple to do, transport and the lessons are provided, you’re not in charge of discipline in the classroom but you get to genuinely feel like you’ve had an impact on these children. My personal highlight was after we were in a class of children with various personal difficulties and the teacher came up to us at the end and said ‘you have no idea how much of a change you’ve brought on these kids, normally it’s so hard to get them engaged in anything!’. If I could, I’d go to every session I could but it’s got to the time that I have to focus on my degree.

Thanks to this week’s volunteers delivering at Fitzalan and Mountain Ash

A big thank you is well deserved for all of our volunteers this week. We saw some fantastic efforts from everyone involved, and were especially impressed by those participants who were delivering SHARE with Schools workshops for the first time.

Delivering Romans in Wales, Medieval Orders of Society and Life in the Nineteenth Century Cynon Valley at Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, Abercynon:

  • Kelsey Louise Clarke
  • Jacob Deacon
  • Chris Griffiths
  • Jon Langston
  • Ben Dillon

And delivering Who Wants to be a Museum Curator? and the brand new Archaeological Science workshops at the Eisteddfod at Fitzalan High School, Cardiff:

  • Beth Cox
  • Talia Brown
  • Liberty Vaz Townsend
  • Thomas Snook
  • Tom Allen
  • Rachael Mott
  • Katie Rees-Williams
  • Laura Rees
  • Jonathan Gilbert
  • Louise Morgan
  • Harriet Lomax
  • Elizabeth Nicholson

Well done and thank you one and all!

Here’s some pics from the Who Wants to be a Museum Curator? sessions at Fitzalan, showcasing some of the incredible work from the school pupils: