Elena Hajilambi, who studies BA Music, completed work experience last year as part of the Classroom Experience Project. She went to Radyr Comprehensive’s Music department. Here she tells us about her experience.
I’ve known for years that I wanted to become a teacher in the future but wasn’t aware that in order to complete my PGCE I would need classroom experience beforehand. As I was in the first year of my BA, I thought it would be a good opportunity to get some professional classroom experience, especially because I could make it work around my degree.
I loved every minute of my placement. It was the highlight of my week every week for the time I was there. It was so rewarding working with the students and knowing that I was making a difference.
There were times where I had been working with one student during a lesson, and when they would come up and thank me at the end of the lesson or say that I had helped them, it made my day. But I also found it really rewarding working with the staff. It was lovely knowing that I was a help and not just another thing for them to think about, and they made sure that I knew my hard work was paying off. It’s amazing because it’s just reaffirmed the career choice that I made for myself years ago and proven to me that it’s within reach.
I observed a lot of what the class teachers were doing and helped lead classroom tasks. My role was essentially another authority figure in the classroom to support the teacher and take some of the pressure off – it’s harder to keep eyes on everyone at once than it looks. Sometimes I was assigned to work with students who had additional learning needs and needed one-on-one attention, which would have been difficult for the class teacher to accomplish when there are 30 other students in the room.
I had to learn to take initiative a lot more and to be assertive in the lessons in order to keep an eye on all the students. I think most of all I developed my interpersonal skills. I was treated like a member of staff by both the students and class teachers, and that really boosted my confidence knowing that they could see me in that position. It allowed me to work on my social skills and to work on differentiating how I communicate with staff versus how I communicate with the students.
I would absolutely recommend completing a placement through CEP. It has given me another level of experience that I didn’t think I would get until my PGCE, not to mention my personal development in that time.
The CEP team were phenomenal. Amy was amazingly quick at setting up a connection with the school, and she would check in on me every so often to see how the placement was going. I knew that if anything changed or if something went wrong, I could go straight to her and she would be able to sort it. It made the experience even better knowing that I had people supporting me from all sides.
- View and apply for Classroom Experience Project opportunities with local primary, secondary, welsh medium and special educational needs schools.
- Volunteer to support children who speak little English.
- Check with your academic school to see if they run school engagement activities.
- Cardiff Volunteering and Skills and Volunteering Cymru (SVC) offer projects in local schools.
- Global Opportunities to study, work or volunteer with one of our partners around the world.
Elena Hajilambi, second year Music.
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