Willows High School

Guest post from volunteer Jon Cook

Jon Cook

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Training sessions were inventive and fun and helped us prepare for what was needed

My name is Jon Cook, a third year Religious Studies student. When I first heard about the program [SHARE with Schools] I knew it would help my future in ways of experience. Even though it was a little daunting at first because I was not doing a degree in archaeology or history but in religion, I took it as an opportunity to learn more myself and also enhance my public speaking skills.

I presented to a wide range of year groups in a few different schools spotted around Cardiff, presenting to different age groups was fun and different every time. I was involved in presenting a wide variety of workshops all teaching the history of Wales, such as The Romans in Wales, History of the Rhondda Cynon Taf and Wales in the First World War.

The training sessions were inventive and fun and helped us prepare for what was needed. The presentation was nerve wracking at first but once I was there helping kids learn about the past all fears diminished and if things went off track or pear shaped the post grad students were there to help as well.

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The presentation was nerve wracking at first but … helping kids learn about the past all fears diminished

All the kids were well mannered and enthusiastic, my favorite memory from the time giving the workshops is when I was at Cathays giving a presentation on the miners in South Wales and I managed to get a student engaged and interested in a subject that he previously was not.

I would recommend these workshops for everyone who wants to enhance their oratory and teaching skills but also for anyone who is interested in learning more about the subjects themselves as they are very informative. The only problem was that there wasn’t a workshop in my degree specific area. I have no doubt that this will help towards my future career plans and would love to thank everyone involved as it really has been a great experience.

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.

Workshops delivered 17 Mar-8 Apr

Looks like I’ve missed posting the notices for a few weeks’ worth of outreach workshops delivered to local schools, oops. These were given in Michaelston College, Cathays High School, Glyn Derw High School, and Willows High School. It was great to deliver in new places and we also saw the first delivery in a school of the new Heritage Communication session devised and led by fellow students from the School of History, Archaeology and Religion.

A big thanks go out to the following SHARE with Schools volunteers (as always let me know if anyone is missing):

  • Luca Hoare
  • Sophie Adams
  • Rebecca Whitehead
  • Shannon Philips
  • Verity Ball
  • Alice Spotorno
  • Rebecca Swaine
  • Maria Healy
  • Rhiannon Main
  • Hannah Parker
  • Beth Cox
  • Will Tregaskes

A big thank you to all the school pupils who have made this season’s visits so fun for us: some of the ideas and work you’ve done has been amazing. We’re now left with just the return visits, where students we’ve visited come to see us at Cardiff University, to close out a very successful and busy season of SHARE with Schools!

First trip to Willows High School

Some photos from our recent trip to Willows High School in Tremorfa, Cardiff, where we delivered our medieval and 19th century workshops. It was our first ever trip to Willows. We were delighted with some of the responses given and work that the groups produced, and especially impressed that the pupils stayed engaged with us for the two hours, each class having both workshops without a break. We look forwards to our second trip to the School, where we will be running our Romans workshop for the day.

I’ve been promised some more photos from the day and will get them up as soon as they are provided.