Charlotte Musgrove is a first year History student on the Canterbury campus, and started the Stipend Ambassador role this year.
I recently had the opportunity to help with the ‘Confidence in the Classroom’ outreach activity at Dane Court Grammar School. This was actually the first outreach session I worked at a school, so I was a bit nervous about how things would go, but I really enjoyed the experience and I am hoping that when the session is repeated in March that I am able to help again.
At the start of the session, there was an ‘icebreaker’ activity and the other ambassadors and I participated to help introduce ourselves to the class. We reflected as a group on the skills used during the activity which included listening, memory and teamwork.
Then the session involved the students arranging themselves on a ‘boat’ but this required using problem solving skills as the characters all had different requirements. This task was done easily by one group but the other group of students found it more difficult. This showed to me the importance of being flexible as an ambassador and learning to adapt depending on the group of students you are working with.
The students then discussed what items they would take to a desert island. In both groups the discussions were great to listen to because the students were using their problem solving skills effectively and there were some interesting debates amongst the students. Some students did not get involved that much so perhaps having two smaller groups would be more encouraging to students who are less confident so they still participate and develop their skills, but in a less intimidating way.
The final part of the session consisted of the students going into smaller groups and reflecting on the ways in which they have demonstrated the use of particular skills in the classroom and also in interactions outside the classroom. I found with both of my groups that the students found it easy to identify subjects where they had used particular skills but required some help thinking about specific examples. The students then had to set targets to try and improve on the various skills. Some students were able to specifically detail what they wanted to improve on whereas other students required some help. This highlighted to me, as a new ambassador, that it is important to realise that individual students will have different needs and some require more help than others.
On reflection, I found that with both groups, it was good to try and build a rapport with the students as they then started to listen to what you were saying and were more willing to engage with you and complete the tasks. Luckily, I actually attended Dane Court as my secondary school so I was able to talk about the school and how it has changed/remained the same etc and this then meant the students became more willing to participate. This showed to me the importance of gaining the students’ interest and building a rapport and I think that for future ambassador work opportunities I will try to do this in order to help engage them in the task.
Overall, I think that both sessions went well and I am eagerly awaiting the next work opportunity when we visit Dane Court in a follow-up session. I think that the sessions were useful for the students and I hope that they are able to see the skills that they have developed, how they practice them every day around school, and how identifying these skills is a useful task because of having to do this for sixth form applications, university applications and later job applications. I actually found the skill identifying exercise helpful myself, and I might even try and do a similar thing for when I look at applying for work experience!