An idea that first started on a zoom call has now been launched into a global campaign to empower students to talk to their educators about climate change: Teach the Teacher.
At the beginning of last summer, Mock Cop campaigners Jodie Bailey-Ho, Jamie Burrell, and Jamie Agombar were on a call with the iWill4Nature steering group, discussing potential future campaigns for September and October before COP26. Jodie recalls how a certain teacher at her school was a “massive climate sceptic” who would not be convinced to change their views. Jodie Bailey-Ho explains how her idea transformed into an action plan: “At this point, I was sort of joking about wanting to do something around sceptical teachers, but the idea for reverse teaching had been floating around Teach the Future (another project with SOS-UK hosts) for a while.” And the group agreed. And hence, Teach the Teacher was born.
Teach the Teacher is a Mock COP hosted project that aims to tackle the lack of training for teachers around the environment and sustainability. It utilises reverse teaching: sending students into their own schools to ‘teach’ their educators about climate change and its associated issues like climate anxiety and intersectionality and how to incorporate these into lessons.
Recent SOS-UK research reveals that “70% of teachers feel they have not received adequate training to educate students on climate change, its implications for the environment and societies around the world, and how these implications can be addressed” (__).
The younger generations have realized the catastrophic consequences of climate change that directly endanger the future of the people and the planet. Most students have grown up and dealt with an education that inadequately prepares the youth for a life drastically impacted by this climate crisis. Jodie explains how the team wants “to change this so that the environment is an easily approachable subject in the classroom, and so that teachers feel confident in starting the conversations themselves.”
And the project has kick-started into success. Despite starting as a UK-wide project with a goal of coordinating with five schools, Teach the Teacher has expanded internationally, reaching 45 schools in 21 countries and counting. The team has collaborated with the UK Department for Education to host a live-streamed session at COP26 in their ‘Genz-Zero’ sustainable classroom with the Permanent Secretary of the Department, the Children’s Commissioner, and representatives from the US Embassy attending. Earlier this year, Teach the Teacher hosted a session with the National Education Union.
With its one-year anniversary coming up, the Teach the Teacher project is running again for COP27 this year after reviving from the project for the Glasgow conference.
In addition, to Teach the Teacher, there are also additional projects such as Teach the Governor and Teach the Parent. Changes at school require cooperation from parents and governors; governors have a great influence on the broader picture for schools, while parents manage education from home. Both are vital targets for ensuring climate education. Jodie Bailey-Ho also notes the importance of “behavioural change… when they happen in conjunction with larger structural change, and so by tackling these jointly, we hope to create an even bigger, more lasting impact.”
The future of Teach the Teacher is looking bright. With the unexpected success of the project last year at COP 26 and with the NEU, the team is hoping to reach similar, if not better, results in this coming year.
How can you join this project?
Stay updated with us on social media. On Instagram, both @MockCOP and @teachtheteacher_ will be posting updates on dates of formal launching and how young people and educators alike from around the world can get involved, host, or attend a session this autumn. Email email@example.com for more information on any of our projects.
Written by Julianne Park
* Interview/Information from Jodie Bailey-Ho!