This year I had the opportunity to take students for the Kids Teaching Kids Conference on the 31st of July-1st of August 2014. The Environmental Studies teacher asked me to replace her whilst she was on Long Service Leave and I agreed because it would be a different experience for me. It is one of the best conferences I’ve been to. It was interesting, engaging and best of all informative for students and teachers alike. It was aimed at school children but even as a teacher, I learnt from the students and the experts. The Kids Teaching Kids program is run by Aaron Woods and his team. It’s purpose is to challenge primary and secondary students to think about local and global environmental issues and to realise that they can make a difference to the world they live in.
This conference is unique because the workshops are led by students- whether they are in primary school or secondary school. The aim of the workshops is that students present their learning and teach other students about a particular environmental issue. This year the conference was about the Urban Water Cycle and how little things like throwing a can on the ground can affect our waterways. It was focused on the Melbourne waterways. The presentations I attended on Day 1 at Etihad Stadium were brilliant. Primary and secondary school children built 3-D models, large-scale games, held relay games and created videos to show the impact of Melbourne citizens on our water system. It was hands-on and engaging. This is what needs to be happening more and more in our schools today- teachers should just be mentors and there for guidance- students learn best from their peers.
Day 2 at Collingwood Children’s Farm was cold and wet but it didn’t stop the learning. My students learnt about water treatment plants in Victoria, looked at different water species and the Yarra catchment area. Some even got a tour of the farm and fed the animals. Despite the cold, it was wonderful to see the students engaged in their learning. All the activities were different and had a practical component. It was hands-on learning at its best.
Despite the cold, the rain and aching feet, I felt privileged to be asked to take my Year 9 students on this excursion. They are part of my school’s environmental group. They have a major task ahead of them – to help make our school more environmentally friendly. They are a group of 10 students in a school that has nearly 2000 students from diverse background. At the end of the conference I spoke to them about the challenge facing them- to show others that changes can be made by 1 person doing the right thing. They need to set an example to others- no easy feat in a cohort of students who don’t understand how they can impact the world they live in. By starting locally within the school and the surrounding community, they will be working with students around Melbourne to change the human impact on our water system. I can help them in this- I may not be an Environmental Studies teacher, but as a Melbournian I can change my actions to help our waterways. I can lead by example and help the Environment group with their task. In this endeavour, I am a learner who has been taught by students about how each one of us can make a change. The role of the teacher was reversed and for that I applaud the Kids Teaching Kids Progam for realising this and harnessing students’ abilities in teaching their peers and their teachers.
“About KTK | Kids Teaching Kids.” Kids Teaching Kids. Web. 02 Aug. 2014.
Photo collage created using Foto using my own images.