Having now very recently completed Module 2, there are a couple of aspects that have really stuck in my mind and got me thinking back to my own time working as a teacher. Both innovation and effective teamwork were both central aspects of Module 2.
With reference to innovation and teamwork, I have been thinking back to my failed attempt to see recycling adopted by the primary school I was working at back in 2007. At this time the school was, each and every week, filling a large landfill dumpster with cardboard and other recyclable materials. It seemed so wasteful to me, as well as being at odds with our environmental educations programs at the time.
I was only graduate teacher at the time and I asked the principal why the school chose to not recycle and was told it was an issue of cost. However, she could see my point and concern as valid and admitted the issue hadn’t been explored for a long time. Feeling a little encouraged, I told her I would look into it and get back to her with some exact costings. The principal seemed happy with that. As I read things, happy that the program could be explored properly and without any extra ‘running around’ needed on her part. I was also happy as it gave me a chance to present the case to her at a later date more formally. It also allowed me to take on and lead a somewhat innovative project I felt passionate about – exciting for any graduate teacher!
I dutifully rang a number of recycling companies, came up with a range of possible package deals and good prices. I typed everything up very professionally and met with the principal a week later to present my case. To my disappointment I only received some vague responses accompanied by no real interest or further commitment. I know that schools run on a tight budget and while I cannot recall the exact costs, I remember it was not much and that even the principal admitted it was much less that even she had expected. What’s more, she agreed that having a recycling program at the school also offered educational opportunities. None-the-less, a somewhat innovative idea was not adopted by the school.
I can see now that it was very easy for the principal to dismiss the idea. What I really needed to do was to get a team of teachers together who felt similar to me about the need to recycle school waste. I needed to get them on board with me to not only help get the idea approved by the principal but to also help get it up and running after that. To see it’s advantages fully capitalised on and properly imbedded in the relevant educational programs as well as becoming a part of school life generally. Recycling should be a part of what life is all about, right? It wouldn’t have been too hard as there were many great teachers at the school who cared deeply about environmental education and conservation. These included leading teachers with many years experience who could have given the case some serious clout. However, I don’t recall asking any of them. Sharma (20011, April 20) raises the memorable quote, “The bigger the dream, the more important your team.” While I wouldn’t equate establishing this recycling program with the fulfilment of a dream, the fact I tried to progress it with no team whatsoever was foolish. I figured I could get it approved myself without the need to get anyone other than the principal on board. I’d then sort out my next step after that. How silly I was!
Even if the principal was unconvinced about the need for recycling at the school, a strong and committed group of teachers (including some with specialist expertise in these areas) would have been far more difficult to turn down than a lone graduate teacher acting unilaterally. In any case, I’m sure the principal would have keenly welcomed the idea if the case was properly presented by a group with the right expertise working together.
Sharma, R. (2011, April 20). Robin Sharma on how to build a winning team: 5 best team building practices [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckEOQKmZPlI