I went to Alexandra Jr School every friday afternoon for five weeks to help run the 'university' workshops. I had six children in my group, and we were the Water Nymph group. Working with the same children every week was amazing because I got to see them progress and gain confidence in sharing their ideas. They also were always able to make my day better because they were excited to see me and carry on the project, wanting to tell me the ideas they had come up with over the week. We shared little jokes within the group and also all had a naturally competitive side, meaning the children were almost always focused on the task we were doing and wanted to make everything as good as they could.
I tried and think I was successful in making the children feel comfortable enough to want to share their ideas or stories with me. I always told them what I was going to do before I did it, for example if I was going to write down what they were saying, or keep what they were drawing so that they felt they had options as well as control over their ideas. I learnt from these workshops that the more you recognise that the children are contributing ideas and recognise that they belong to them (I put their names on their work) then the more they are encouraged to say.
I made sure to keep mentioning that they were part of something big. That the work they were doing was contributing to a big project. They knew that most of their ideas would not clearly be part of the performance but that they were helping to make the play what it is going to be. They understood this and wanted to make the water nymph tribe the best tribe. They were all always full of ideas, and at times I felt it was best to give them all a piece of paper and ask them to put down their idea in as many ways as they could. They drew pictures and notes off them, wrote key words down, wrote short descriptions and put down the key colours. They would be completely engrossed in what they were doing and often I could see that they had so many ideas going through their heads that it was a rush to get all the information down before they forgot it. Seeing this was inspiring and encouraging to me because it was clear that they were enjoying what they were doing and it filled me with ideas to take back to the creative team.