Why did you become a Learning Advocate?
Victoria: Education and effective communication about conservation issues with a variety of people, including children, is a crucial part of conservation. I sought to improve my communication skills around young children as well as my confidence in speaking to ‘miniature adults’.
When did you start your role and what was your journey since?
Victoria: I felt extremely nervous before starting my role as Learning Advocate. I was worried I would not be able to have any kind of impact on this group of Year 6 pupils . I though they will be disinterested and unwilling to want my assistance. On the first day, the children did not speak much to me because they were all too shy to ask for my help. But, I did immediately feel at ease when the pupils were all polite and they listened and respected their teacher.
By about week 4, the children would greet me and ask me questions and immediately engage with me. Throughout the teaching day, half the class would call out ‘Miss Ireland, can you help me?’. It suddenly struck me. How hard it is for teachers to help an entire class of 30 pupils who would benefit from 1-1 help? Ultimately, how valuable I was becoming in the classroom!
Did you have a favourite moment?
Yes! The best day I shared with Year 6 was towards the end of my placement, when we had a full day workshop on health and well-being. I got to see the pupils beyond their names and uniforms; we spoke about personal things – what they liked to do in their free time, what pets did they own and what they wanted to be when they grew up. We all shared a lot of laughter that day and emotions of cheerfulness and happiness.
What skills have you gained being a Learning Advocate?
By taking part in Students in Classrooms, I have improved my communication skills with young people. I learnt to improvise when things don’t always go to plan. I improved my critical thinking skills and probably the most challenging aspect was explaining complex words I thought I understood. One only realises you don’t understand a lot of the “basic words” when they ask you to explain it to a 11 year old! But most importantly, I learnt that children are simply hilarious, they have no filter and often say the first thing that comes to their mind.
I have established that education is an avenue that I would definitely consider post-graduation. The skills and experiences I have had in the classroom have helped me develop as a student. I am more confident in approaching education and have become inspired to target a younger audience when talking about conservation issues.
To find out more about the variety of ways you can get involved in our schemes at NTU click here.