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Guest post by volunteer Jon Langston

9 April 2015

We’re happy to present the first of a new series of guest blog posts from our student volunteers. Enjoy!

My name is Jon Langston, a third year ancient history student. I felt compelled to participate in the SHARE With Schools Outreach Project as it would offer me an insight to a potential career in education. Not only this but it offered somewhat of an escape from the academic rigours of university life.

I presented to three sets of year groups, years 7, 8, and 9. This brings with it a range of ages and abilities which proved both challenging and stimulating. The workshops I was involved in delivering were ‘Romans in Wales’ ‘The Three Orders of Medieval Society’ and ‘Life in the 19th Century Cynon Valley’ in the end I delivered all sections of each workshop. From religion of the 19th century to medieval battle tactics. This breadth of topics meant that it was engaging for both the school children and us students. Grappling with subjects we have never had to consider in our university lives.

We received training sessions, which adequately prepped us with a general overview of what each workshop was comprised of. This, along with, crib notes sent to us informing us of our roles and so on gave us plenty of time to be prepared for our sessions. As well as this we were briefed as to the ability and sizes of classes before we got to the school, this allowed us to adjust our delivery of the workshop for different groups.

This preparation meant that, despite the nerves, we were able to deliver a consistent and, perhaps more importantly, engaging learning environment for the students in the class. The workshops went smoothly, sometimes we had the post graduate students to help if we were lost and to keep on track with timings. This safety net was much appreciated and the fact that we knew it was there meant we felt more confident in our delivery.

The pupils were very receptive of our sessions. Seeing the look on the children’s faces when something just clicked or we brought out something to wear or even better the swords was a delight to me. My favourite moment was a year 8 boy who stayed behind to talk to us about everything he knew about the medieval period. He asked if we would be back next year, we assured him we would and his face was one of joy as he left the classroom.

This experience has given me an insight to a possible career. Not only this, but it has enabled me to grow in confidence in my public speaking and presentational skills. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to improve these skills along with many others!

Some sections of the workshops were a bit too wordy, such as the main body of the Romans in Wales workshop. This I felt resulted in many children losing focus. However the other two workshops I participated in had just the right levels of interactive learning and ‘whiteboard’ learning to keep the children engaged throughout.

Overall SHARE with Schools was one of the highlights of my university experience. Not only did it help with my academic abilities but it also helped me meet many people outside of my degree programme. I will return!

Jon Langston