#greenhouse with Haleh Moravej @halehmoravej Powerful contribution from the Hollings Technical Support Group

On the 27th of April, Haleh Moravej hosted the Greenhouse gathering and immersed us all into the world of food and how we could use this for learning and teaching. Colleagues from across the institution joined us as well as the Technical Team from Hollings who also participated in the activities. Their contribution was really powerful and highlighted the important role the team plays to support students especially at the beginning of their studies when they first join the university. We invited them to share with us the story they shared during the Greenhouse gathering which shows their closeness to students and how much they care. The following has been written by Bernie and the team and the images included bring their story alive using metaphors which are really powerful and touched all who were there deeply.

Bernie in full flow, image source: https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7724/17289618165_be39efb263_z.jpg

“Within our group we looked at how we see our students develop over the 1st year of the course within the practical sessions and demonstrated this visually with the food we had been given. We split the student’s thoughts, confidence and development over the first year at MMU into the 3 terms to include our observations as support staff and discussed our role in what we feel is an important part of this student experience.

Students in Term 1: image source https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7707/17085769327_3df5da0e22_z.jpg

In the term starting September we see the students arriving and coming into the practical areas and notice a lot of them are unsure of how to cook, not aware of the various types of foods, and also they can be unsure of themselves. They have arrived some into a strange town, they are coming away from their friends and family groups back at home and in need of support with all the thoughts they would have around this time. Students can be pre-occupied with thoughts of making new friends, the often huge change in their social life, dating and a new found freedom. We demonstrated this with our perception of the lone student as a single egg who is alone and now outside of the group they left behind at home/school/friends and also at this stage they have not yet discovered their groups in this new situation. As you see these groups are represented with cherry tomatoes outside and separate from the egg.  They need support within the practicals and with learning the basics or building upon their skills they already have so that their confidence is improved and also their acceptance of us of and to know that we can help them in their time here at university.

Students in Term 2, image source: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8721/17105662110_217a18d6c5_z.jpg

The 2nd term January to March we have represented on our food plates as some jumbled ingredients to show that our student’s emotions and thoughts are changing and that they are in the process of taking lots on board. We are still trying to reassure students and encourage them too but also we see that their confidence is improving as the teaching and learning is starting to be taken on board together with settling into peer groups. They become more settled in the practical areas working with confidence and with us still supporting them we see them show this through their enthusiasm as it emerges and so at this stage they feel much happier to ask for or accept our help.

Students in Term 3, image source: https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8704/17291385012_10dd5b2902_z.jpg

In the final term March to July we have used our food to make a smiley face of our happy smiling students they are much more confident in their groups of friends, and are happy to use their new skills. They are also willing to share thoughts and problems with us where we try to help and advise them and obviously refer them on to the right people for further help. Sometimes we are able to spot deeper more serious problems individuals may have which we can pass on usually to the lecturers concerned. We also are happier to see them having developed from the start of the academic year and feel rewarded in our part. Most of us are mums and so have a maternal instinct towards the young students also the mature students can relate to us easily. We all agree that we find this such a rewarding part of our job when we are able to make a difference to them in a friendly supportive way.”

HOLLINGS TECHNICAL SUPPORT GROUP – Dianne Ludman, Wendy Davies, Gaynor Barton, and Bernie Pinder

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