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Preparing Students For Life After School

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A common question being asked by teachers in schools is “How do I prepare students for life after school?”  humanutopia has always believed in the partnership of qualifications with qualities can set students apart.

We asked one of our staff, Ryan Macnair to explain how participating and running HARmony Camps made him more employable and how it can support in preparing students for life after school…

As a Hero, I enjoyed being involved with four HARmony Camps at my old school.

During the holidays, myself and other heroes donated 3 days of our time, to create and run a programme in the school based around humanutopia values of Honesty, Awareness and Responsibility.  With the support of humanutopia staff we were given the opportunity to be creative and develop our leadership skills by running workshops for the new Year 7 students.

I enjoyed the opportunity to develop life skills as part of HARmony Camps that I also took on additional responsibility by becoming one of the  “HARmony Camp Directors” allowing me to support, manage and mentor the group of heroes, who then in turn worked with Year 6’s.

Even now as an adult, I can find it exciting and utterly nerve wracking, when I am given a lot of responsibility, but with the support of the school and humanutopia staff I felt more confident and willing to take on the challenge.

HARmony Camps provided me with the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities and still allow me to continue developing these life skills that I regularly use in my day-to-day work:

Improving Communication For Students

One of the earliest tasks was to recruit for Year 6’s to attend. This involved acting as ambassadors for the school and ringing parents up to confirm places. This was very scary as I was a 16-year-old who had never spoken to anyone on the phone, let alone adults.

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However, I saw it as my responsibility to make sure it was done and the response from the parents was not scary at all – in fact it was very positive, which fuelled confidence for the next call I had to make.

The turnout was great, showing myself that if I could communicate properly I could make things happen.

I now speak to people every day on the phone and I am less phased by this, which I know stemmed from calling those parents.

Problem solving

Everything was organised for HARmony Camp and I felt prepared, little did I know there was a huge problem awaiting us.

On the first morning, the girl who was leading our dance workshop had broken her leg over the weekend! I had no idea how we were going to resolve this.

However, after the initial panic we remained calm. We sat down together and worked through a solution where we could get everything in place on time.

How can this help in preparing students for life after school?

Logistics and being able to think on my feet are so important to my job now – by having a “real life” problem to solve in this context, it proved to me that if you don’t panic and keep your cool, you can solve anything that life decides to send your way.

Student Conflict Resolution

We came to a point on the third day that despite talking about Honesty, Awareness and Responsibility, one of the boys really wasn’t getting on with the rest of his group.

After speaking with the humanutopia team, I realised that, with a little advice from adults about how to approach him, this is something we could solve ourselves. After an honest discussion with the boy about why he was acting that way, he reflected on his behaviour and it proved to be a turning point in his time at HARmony Camp – I was so glad we decided to have that crucial conversation with him.

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In my job, and in life, I am having to deal with things in a sensitive way. This experience at HARmony Camp has helped me realise that I don’t need to rely on others and I can use my own initiative to approach these situations.

Teamwork Between Students

During HARmony Camp, the heroes must be positive role models, this is key to preparing students for life after school. As one of the camp directors, I received information that one of the heroes didn’t like one of the activities and didn’t want to be involved. I could see this had a knock-on impact on her group of Year 6’s – a lot of them were sitting out with her. I could have reacted several ways:

I could do what I always did and not say anything, it would have by far been the easiest option. I could have reacted with the hero – this would have made the hero defensive and not helped.

Instead, I had an idea.  I briefly got involved in the workshop – as silly as I felt, I did something I’d never done before and stood out. The group were soon joining in and after the hero had seen me getting stuck in, it really made a difference to the kids team building.

I proved to myself that I could be creative, and by letting go of my worries and not reacting as I usually would, it kept the team together and had a positive outcome for the Year 6’s too.

Public Speaking Skills

They say public speaking is one of the most common fears – I can see why! The final challenge was to put on a presentation to the parents, which was fine, except I had to speak to all the heroes, staff, Year 6’s and parents. I was terrified, but I came to realise that the only reason I was worried what people thought of me. If I could let go of that I could say what I wanted to say, and when the time came, I spoke from the heart and it was perfect.

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I have had to give many presentations since then and used the same principle – if I am not afraid of what others might think, it is likely to be more authentic.

In short, HARmony Camp gave me a real opportunity to develop myself.

I was able to make mistakes, but then use my judgement to learn from them, and develop the skills that I didn’t realise I had, because the adults stepped back.

It also gave me an insight to see what I could accomplish both as a team and independently when I was “thrown in the deep end”.

It was an incredible opportunity that I took to grow and I genuinely feel it provided me qualities that made me more employable candidate when applying for jobs.  and I’m so grateful I could do it.

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