Teachers and staff who are mostly new to the classroom have multiple goals to prioritize- classroom management, assessment, teaching strategies, differentiation and many more. As the world changes and moving toward unpredictable and innovative directions, it is inevitable that we teachers add to the priorities, or even change the priorities we once had. The world now demands for something greater and our skills and interests should also develop in such a way that we don’t just help solve issues in the classroom and school but also help address concerns of the society and the planet. This is why I decided to have a new conviction- to Go Green.
Little things I take for granted: I feel that for the past years, I haven’t been very practical about my teaching. My belief was to get whatever resources and whatever it takes to help the students and the teachers inquire. Yes, I was into printing and photocopying numerous graphic organizers (both in A4 and A3 papers), articles, practice sheets, differentiated assessments and other classroom materials. Am I a part of a culture or generation that can’t live without the 2 P’s- printing and photocopying? (Yes, I’m the type of teacher who panics when the photocopying machine and the printer are not working.) I often asked myself how a low-budget school can afford this kind of teaching or how great teachers can teach without using so much paper or even electricity.
Yes, our world is experiencing rapid and disturbing political and environmental changes and here I am, unable to think long term.
A Unit on Energy: I and my Grade 4 class inquired on the different forms of energy, conservation and sustainability. We got to learn about the alarming state of our planet, issues about renewable and non-renewable sources or energy, pollution and CO2 emissions, other consequences such as child labor and political wars and what organizations and individuals are doing about it. What really inspired me to Go Green was learning about the different Green Schools especially in India and in Thailand. These are local and international schools that truly care for their communities and the planet. They truly act upon their learning— with or without sufficient or perhaps similar resources other international schools can afford. We don’t need to be super experienced teachers or be part of the world’s most respected schools or organizations to make a difference- we just really need to act. The unit on Energy was very meaningful and inspiring for all of us; however, if we want to start making waves, it is not enough to just inquire and finish a unit. Having a sense of social responsibility involves commitment, sustainable actions and inspiration. I’m not saying we make radical changes in our teaching practices and in our lives (or maybe we do?). I’m merely calling for individuals to empathize for our society by making the conscious effort to do what we all can- big or small- to save and conserve. Small measures go a long way!
I now believe that a part of becoming a great teacher is having the empathy and concern within and outside the classroom. It’s also having a deep connection with others, with the past, present and the future. How is your teaching, classroom or school positioned to help your community? Or even the world?
The SY 2014-2015 challenge for me:
- Educate myself further and others on why and how we could Go Green
- Be mindful of my actions and decisions (no matter how small they may seem)
- Help build a Green Classroom culture where students initiate actions
- Initiate Global Green projects and collaborate with other classes and schools