Despite her 25 years of teaching experience, Susan knows that ‘Nature is the best teacher’ and that experiences shape the habits of a person.
“My passion for the environment has shaped my life,” Susan explained.
Susan, whose first qualification is as a biologist, was trained as a Climate Leader by Al Gore in 2008 when she learned to deliver Al Gore’s slideshow based on his documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
“I used to run small nature club at my school called ‘The Green Planeteers’, focusing on biodiversity and connecting students with nature. The club was recognised by Delhi’s Department of Environment, giving us the opportunity to connect with 20 other schools in the area. With this foundation, The Climate Reality Project training gave me a new tool to move forward with – I could reach across to many more schools. When I first gave this presentation to our staff they were shocked that the climate crisis was so real and at our doorsteps. This awareness helped us to catalyse action” she explained.
In her current role, managing environmental programs at her school and its partner branches across North India, Susan now educates teachers and school students about climate change, but has also used her skills to create a community outreach program.
She motivates student leaders known as ‘Green Captains’. These students create and implement sustainable practices throughout their school, and work with school staff, from teachers to helpers, to focus on water and energy conservation, waste management and revegetation – local climate change solutions in action. Together they also use their creative skills to spread the word and create change.
“Our students create street plays in the marketplaces in New Delhi. These are a popular way to engage new audiences – and have lots of fun at the same time. The plays are recorded and shown on TV, expanding the reach even further,” she said.
A favourite new element in classrooms across Susan’s school is ‘GOOS’ bins. GOOS stands for ‘Good On One Side’ and is where all one-sided paper is collected that can be re-used for printing. This system complements a recycling system also in place.
These simple actions have led to students thinking critically about waste reduction issues.
“It is a place for students to start questioning other elements of their lives.”
Students have implemented a ‘7R Mantra for a Greener Planet’. The R’s are: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, Rethink, Repair - and - Repeat all these everyday.
So with all these great initiatives already in place, what does Susan hope to learn from the Skillshare? “I want to learn and share with educators from other cultures, Australian and Indonesian – about their education systems and policies, what they see as best practice education, and how they have encourage more ‘green skills’ amongst fellow educators. Together we can hone our leadership skills. In India, once we weave in environmental topics and activities into the school curriculum, engaging teachers will be easier,” she explained.
“Of course you never have all staff on board, but once parents and teachers see this education in action and how students become the change makers, they become more convinced of its need. We plan to come up with a resource book with lesson plans which can be integrated with our curriculum that we practice in India and can be used by educators in other parts of the world as well.
“Teachers are looking for ready-made resources that can be used in classrooms with experiential learning - with pictures, presentations, and links from the internet. And we will highlight the cross-curriculum outcomes of these resources too.
“We will work with our fellow Indonesian and Australian educators for this resource book – there are so many different approaches and practices that we can be learning and sharing.
“As Gandhiji put it – ‘Be the Change you want to see around you.’”