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Guest blog by volunteer Chloe Burdett

13 April 2015

Chloe Burdett

I hesitantly signed myself up to SHARE with Schools in order to gain experience before applying for my PGCE in Year 3. As I am a second year Religious Studies student, I was nervous the talks were more about History and Archaeology, rather than my area of studies. Due to this, I thought that I would not engage with the material. However, to my surprise, I was very wrong. I attended a training session on 27th February on ‘Romans in Wales’, ‘Archaeological Sciences’ and ‘Structure of Medieval Society’. Before I knew it, I was signing myself up to deliver a workshop the very next week.

Within the training session, Catherine and her team were excellent. They made me feel very prepared showing us the objects, worksheets and crib notes used. Catherine was also great at letting us all know our sections of the workshop before the required date so that I was able to prepare it in my own way.

Despite feeling somewhat overly prepared, (I read and read over my part until I could read no more), whilst on the journey to the school, I felt very nervous and apprehensive. Although I have been on a placement in a school before, I never got the chance to actually prepare and deliver a lesson. This is what is great about SHARE with Schools, although they provide you with the activities, you can shape and mould the crib sheets any way you wish.

We delivered 4 back-to-back, ‘Romans in Wales’ workshops to Woodlands High School in Ely. Prior to arrival I was unaware that this school was actually for children who had moderate to severe learning difficulties or special needs. Throughout the day, we met with year 7 to 11 and it was great to see how each year group engaged with the workshop. I thought that due to it being a special needs school, we would need to adapt some parts of the workshop. However, due to the workshop being designed so that it is very much ‘hands on’ for the pupils, object handling and discussing what it may be, the children thrived off this, allowing them to express and draw Roman artefacts.

Throughout the sessions I definitely became more relaxed and comfortable with the children. I began to realise that they were not there to challenge me, or tell me I had explained or done something wrong. Instead, they were inquisitive, engaged and excited. Before attending this school, I had not thought about teaching within a special needs department. However, the pupils here were an absolute credit to Woodlands, I have never worked with a group of pupils who were so happy to work with people who they’re not familiar with. The respect and manners shown to visitors outside of school was exceptional.

Despite wanting to apply for a Primary PGCE, SHARE with Schools has allowed me to gain valuable and transferrable skills that can be used during my career in teaching. Not only have I gained confidence in being able to deliver information and tasks to a group of children, but have done so in an ‘unknown’ environment, which really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I have now completed 6 workshops and each one has been entirely different, but in a good way. There is always a new question from a pupil, or a new way in which the workshop is delivered.

The most rewarding aspect of SHARE with Schools for me, was a year 9 student, who did not want to engage at all when he first entered the classroom due to history being ‘boring’. However, during ‘question time’, his hand was the first to shoot up and provide me with an answer. Perhaps this goes to show that the workshops are tailored in such a way in which any child, of any ability is able to participate.

Please find [below] some images that show the work of the pupils at Woodlands High School. They were kind enough to give these to us at the end of their session.

Vexillum designed by a Woodlands High School pupil
Vexillum designed by a Woodlands High School pupil
Worksheets completed by Woodlands High School pupils
Worksheets completed by Woodlands High School pupils