Teacher of the Year Rhys Roberts on his surreal but rewarding journey

05 Oct 2019 BY Rhys Roberts

8 mins
Teacher of the Year winner Rhys Roberts with host Radzi & actor Rhys Ifans
Teacher of the Year winner Rhys Roberts with host Radzi & actor Rhys Ifans

At the 2019 Into Film Awards, Welsh educator, Into Film ambassador and Into Film Club leader, Rhys Roberts was crowned Teacher of the Year. More than 6 months later, Rhys delves into how he first became involved with Into Film, the surreal but exciting experience of the event and the opportunities that winning have created for him since.

I first became involved with Into Film in 2013 through the Llanharan Primary School Into Film Club, which was run by our head teacher. Into Film Cymru then introduced me to a Film Literacy pilot, resulting in me being invited to become an ambassador - a role that I have continued with delight to this day.

I took over, what had been an intermittent film club in 2017, changing it to a weekly event. I was inspired to take on this role as using film in my teaching had allowed me to see how all pupils can engage in the storytelling present within film, regardless of their reading ability. The thing I loved most about my film club was seeing a different side to the pupils as they are able to enjoy watching and talking about film with their friends.

In 2019 I entered my film club into the Into Film Club of the Year: Primary category at the Into Film Awards but unbeknownst to me, my head teacher also nominated me for Teacher of the Year. 

When it comes to the Into Film Awards itself, I can only describe it with a series of superlatives - bizarre, surreal, terrifying and amazing. The day was fantastic, from travelling to London by train and walking into the ODEON Luxe Leicester Square to having my photograph taken by too many cameras to count and the excitement of spotting the celebrities in attendance.

I relaxed into my seat fully expecting to remain a nominee, as the thought of winning was absurd. From the point of fellow Welshman, Rhys Ifans announcing my name the next five minutes were a blur. Then from the absurd to the surreal, going from the stage to the press call area, having my photo taken with my awards next to Rhys Ifans and then being interviewed by a whole host of different media outlets.

Teacher of the Year winner Rhys Roberts with actor Rhys Ifans

It was incredibly rewarding for the effort that I put into promoting film in my club and classroom to be acknowledged on such a national level. It was also great to celebrate and show off our little school from a small Welsh village to the nation. It has, however, made me even more determined to nominate my film club, as the thought of pupils from Llanharan walking on the red carpet in London fills me with so much joy.

I think my confidence has certainly grown since the event. To be acknowledged at such a large event for something you love doesn't happen often. As a profession, teachers generally don't tend to seek out praise or glory but when opportunities arise to be celebrated, it is incredibly rewarding. It has been genuinely lovely to have all sorts of people come up to congratulate me, be it friends who I haven't seen since school to strangers who have seen news about the awards in the press, social media or on TV. A truly odd moment occurred when I went on Sky Cinema to watch a film and I was met with my own face staring back at me on the home page! 

Professionally, it has opened up further opportunities to discuss the benefits of developing students' literacy and personal skills through film to a wider audience, as I have been invited to share my journey at a number of events. It has also been great to spread the great work that Into Film are doing and hopefully more schools will sign on to running a film club and begin their own journeys. With the direction that the Welsh curriculum is going and its greater focus on Expressive Arts, it has also put an interesting perspective on what our school is already doing.

I would encourage other teachers and educators to enter the Into Film Awards as it is an amazing experience like no other. It is incredibly gratifying to know that the hard work that you put into firing children's imaginations and love for film is acknowledged. More than anything, it is such good fun! 

The Into Film Awards takes place every March and submissions for the 2020 Awards are open until 6 December. For full category details and entry criteria visit the Into Film Awards page.

Yng Ngwobrau Into Film 2019 cafodd yr addysgwr o Gymru, llysgennad Into Film ac arweinydd Clwb Ffilm, Rhys Roberts, ei goroni'n Athro'r Flwyddyn. Dros chwe mis yn ddiweddarach, dyma Rhys yn trafod sut y dechreuodd ymwneud ag Into Film, ei brofiadau swreal ond cyffrous yn y digwyddiad a'r cyfleoedd a gafodd yn sgil ennill.

Fe wnes i ddechrau ymwneud ag Into Film yn 2013 drwy Glwb Into Film Ysgol Gynradd Llanharan, a oedd yn cael ei redeg gan ein pennaeth. Wedyn dyma Into Film Cymru yn fy nghyflwyno i beilot Llythrennedd Ffilm, ac yn sgil hynny cefais fy ngwahodd i fod yn llysgennad rôl rwy'n parhau i ymhyfrydu ynddi hyd heddiw.

Yn 2017, fe gymerais i'r awenau ar glwb ffilm a fu'n mynd a dod, a'i droi i fod yn ddigwyddiad wythnosol. Cefais fy ysbrydoli i gymryd y rôl hon gan fod defnyddio ffilm wrth addysgu wedi caniatáu i mi weld sut gall pob disgybl ymwneud â'r stori sy'n cael ei hadrodd mewn ffilm, waeth beth yw eu gallu darllen. Y peth oeddwn i'n ei fwynhau fwyaf am fy nghlwb ffilm oedd gweld ochr arall i'r disgyblion am eu bod nhw'n gallu mwynhau gwylio a siarad am ffilmiau gyda'u ffrindiau.

Yn 2019 fe wnes i gynnig fy nghlwb ffilm i gategori Clwb Into Film y Flwyddyn: Cynradd yng Ngwobrau Into Film, ond heb yn wybod i mi fe wnaeth fy mhennaeth hefyd fy enwebu i am wobr Athro'r Flwyddyn. 

O ran digwyddiad Gwobrau Into Film ei hun, ansoddeiriau eithafol yn unig sy'n dod i'r meddwl bisâr, swreal, brawychus a rhyfeddol. Roedd y diwrnod yn wych, o deithio i Lundain ar y trên a cherdded i mewn i'r ODEON Luxe Leicester Square, i gael fy llun wedi'i dynnu gan fwy o gamerâu nag y gallwn i gyfri, a'r cyffro o weld enwogion yn bresennol.

Fe wnes i ymlacio yn fy sedd yn llawn ddisgwyl aros yn enwebai, am fod y syniad o ennill yn absẃrd. O'r pwynt y gwnaeth fy nghyd-Gymro, Rhys Ifans, gyhoeddi fy enw, roedd y pum munud nesaf yn niwl. Wedyn o'r absẃrd i'r swreal, gan fynd o'r llwyfan i ardal y wasg, a chael fy llun wedi'i dynnu gyda fy ngwobrau wrth ymyl Rhys Ifans ac wedyn cael fy nghyfweld gan lu o wahanol aelodau'r cyfryngau.

Gwerthfawr iawn oedd i'r ymdrech rwy'n ei wneud wrth hyrwyddo ffilm yn fy nghlwb ac yn y dosbarth gael ei chydnabod ar lefel mor genedlaethol. Gwych hefyd oedd cael dathlu a brolio am ein hysgol fach mewn pentref bach yng Nghymru ger bron y wlad yn gyfan. Serch hynny, mae wedi fy ngwneud i hyd yn oed yn fwy penderfynol o enwebu fy nghlwb ffilm, am fod y syniad o weld disgyblion o Lanharan yn troedio'r carped coch yn Llundain yn fy llenwi â chymaint o lawenydd.

Heb os, mae fy hyder wedi tyfu ers y digwyddiad. Nid yw cael cydnabyddiaeth mewn digwyddiad mor fawr yn digwydd yn aml. Fel proffesiwn, nid yw athrawon yn gyffredinol yn chwilio am glod a mawl, ond pan ddaw cyfleoedd i gael eich dathlu mae'n rhyfeddol o foddhaol. Bu'n wirioneddol hyfryd cael pob math o bobl yn dod ataf i fy llongyfarch, boed yn ffrindiau nad ydw i wedi'u gweld ers dyddiau ysgol neu'n ddieithriaid a welodd y newyddion am y gwobrau yn y wasg, yn y cyfryngau cymdeithasol neu ar y teledu. Profiad gwirioneddol ryfedd oedd mynd ar Sky Cinema i wylio ffilm a gweld fy wyneb fy hun yn rhythu'n ôl arna i o'r dudalen gartref! 

Yn broffesiynol, mae wedi agor cyfleoedd pellach i mi drafod manteision datblygu sgiliau llythrennedd a phersonol disgyblion drwy ffilm gyda chynulleidfa ehangach, gan fy mod i wedi cael fy ngwahodd i rannu fy nhaith mewn nifer o ddigwyddiadau. Peth da hefyd fu cael lledaenu'r gwaith gwych mae Into Film yn ei wneud a'r gobaith yw y bydd rhagor o ysgolion yn cofrestru i gynnal clwb ffilm a dechrau ar eu teithiau eu hunain. Gyda'r cyfeiriad y mae'r cwricwlwm yng Nghymru yn mynd iddo a'r ffocws cynyddol ar y Celfyddydau Mynegiannol, mae hyn hefyd yn taflu goleuni diddorol ar yr hyn mae ein hysgol eisoes yn ei wneud.

Fe fyddwn yn annog athrawon ac addysgwyr eraill i roi cynnig ar Wobrau Into Film am ei fod yn brofiad rhyfeddol sy'n wahanol i bob dim arall. Profiad mor foddhaol yw gwybod bod y gwaith caled a wnewch wrth danio dychymyg y plant a chariad at ffilm yn cael ei gydnabod. Ac yn fwy na dim, mae'n gymaint o hwyl! 

Caiff Gwobrau Into Film eu cynnal bob mis Mawrth ac mae'r enwebiadau ar gyfer Gwobrau 2020 ar agor tan 6 Rhagfyr. I weld manylion llawn y categorïau a'r meini prawf, ewch i dudalen Gwobrau Into Film.

Welsh teacher, Into Film Ambassador and Into Film Club leader

Rhys Roberts, Primary school teacher

Rhys is a primary school teacher at Llanharan Primary School in Pontyclun, Wales. He first became involved with Into Film 2013 and went to become an Into Film teacher ambassador as well as the leader of his school's Into Film Club in 2017. He won the Teacher of the Year award at the 2019 Into Film Awards.

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