Why did you become a Learning Advocate?
A massive part of conservation is education and being able to effectively engage with a variety of people including children, about raising awareness of conservation issues. My aim was to improve my communication skills around young children as well as improving my confidence in talking to ‘miniature adults’.
When did you start and what was your journey since?
I felt extremely nervous before starting my role as Learning Advocate. I had anticipated the children being disinterested and unwilling to want my help and I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to have any sort of impact with this group of Year 6 pupils. The first day was challenging and the children didn’t speak to me much as they all seemed too shy to ask for my help. I did immediately feel at ease, 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?’ and 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, and ultimately, how valuable I was becoming within the classroom.
The best day I shared with Year 6 was towards the end of my placement, when the children had a full day workshop of 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 in this scheme?
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, improved my critical thinking, and probably the hardest thing I tackled, was trying to explain basic words that I thought I understood. It’s only when you have to explain it to an 11 year old that you realise you probably don’t understand a lot of ‘basic words’! 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.
INTERESTED IN SUPPORTING DISADVANTAGED PUPILS IN LOCAL SCHOOLS?
You can register your interest here and we will notify you when applications are open in 2021/2022.
To find out more about the variety of ways you can get involved in our schemes, visiting our page here.