Hello, we’re three year 9 students from the Sustainability Club at Beaumont School called Rosie, Tilly and Izzy. We’ve recently led our Teach the Teacher sessions and have really benefited from the campaign.
We wanted to get involved in Teach the Teacher because we’re really concerned about climate change and felt we had to take action to encourage our school to be more climate aware. Our school does try to do its bit to counter the climate crisis, but not enough students or teachers are engaged and the Teach the Teacher scheme seemed perfect to raise awareness.
We were supported throughout the preparations for our sessions, beginning with a 45 minute onboarding session. Kind and helpful members of the Teach the Teacher team outlined the format, answered our questions and reassured us about the sessions, which were looming quite large at that stage. We had regular check-ins and unwavering support: proofreading of our pieces, making sure we were at the right stages of preparation, and providing us with exciting opportunities like writing this blog. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank our amazing project manager, Jack Di Francesco, for all his help and guidance.
We rehearsed our sessions in our free lunchtimes at school, as well as putting in some time at the weekends. Though sometimes a little stressful, the rehearsals definitely prepared us well for delivering the sessions because they meant we were very familiar with the content and so we could vary the script a little in response to things like teacher responses and the general mood. We sent out emails to make teachers aware of the sessions and posted reminders in the staff bulletin. We also personally spoke to teachers who we thought would benefit from attending. We managed to recruit a teacher from every subject to listen to and engage with our sessions, and we encouraged them to share our messages with their colleagues.
We delivered our presentation in two 30 minute sessions. With refreshments for the teachers and time after the session to discuss any questions in smaller groups, we aimed to create a relaxed, more informal environment for all our sessions. We wanted to relieve any pressure that might stop teachers fully engaging, hearing our message and taking action. Although we were a little nervous at the start of the session, once we began we fell into a rhythm and felt much more comfortable. Our teachers definitely helped with this by being really friendly and positive. We certainly feel far more confident speaking in front of people (especially adults) after our sessions as they showed us that as long as your message is a powerful one people will listen, no matter your age or status.
Teaching our teachers was a little strange at first, but as they were so open to our message we began to feel as though it was more of a conversation than a lesson, which was definitely something we had really been aiming for because it helped us build an environment where our message was both respected and listened to. Our teachers were really engaged, raising great points, listening attentively and cooperating with all of our interactive activities. There were a few moments of silence, but as soon as we asked a follow-up question, we were able to get the session back on track.
We definitely think our teachers learned something new from our sessions. There were audible gasps during the climate quiz and when we revealed what percentage (99%!) of coral reefs were expected to be lost due to climate change, and we enjoyed helping our teachers answer questions about climate justice (which we don't think they were very confident about at the start of our session).
We really enjoyed the interactive parts of our sessions, especially the section about intersectionality, and how we could weave climate change into different subjects - they were some of the most relaxed bits as the teachers were thoughtful and came up with really creative responses and ideas that hadn’t occurred to us. It was really great to see the different perspectives that different generations had, rather than assuming that only young people can come up with good ideas around climate change, which we think is an attitude often perpetrated by media portrayals - it’s important to remember that everyone can bring interesting ideas to the discussions surrounding climate change.
We feel that Teach the Teacher empowered us to stand up and take action on climate change in a way that we might not have been able to otherwise. It's so important that all young people learn about climate change and how it affects their future because they have a right to know, and should be a big part in the action humankind is taking towards facing this issue. We feel really lucky to have been involved in such an important scheme and we honestly believe it made a difference to our teachers’ attitudes around climate change.