On Tuesday, 11th January 2022, Makematic hosted a TeachMeet event. The aim was to gather teachers from across the globe to discuss how we incorporate the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into our teaching. More specifically, we focused on Goal 17, which is Partnerships for the Goals.

Quite fitting for an event that aims to build partnerships by connecting educators from different countries. Many of whom are already highly experienced in planning SDGs-infused curriculum, whilst we also had some newcomers. Teachers ranged from early years to primary and secondary educators, STEM to art and music. We had teachers from a whole spectrum of backgrounds. Whether you managed to attend or not, here’s a wrap-up of what we discussed. You’ll also find a link to access the video recording of the event. A Wakelet page is also available with a summary of our discussions.


SDGs Awareness Survey

We started off the session by introducing some of the key findings from our latest SDGs Awareness Survey. (You can still fill it out here)

  1. 17% of the respondents have heard of the SDGs but are not familiar.

  1. 22% of the respondents do not teach the SDGs in their curriculum.

  1. Goal 13 (Climate Action) was by far the most familiar teachers were, compared to the other 17 goals. Goal 4 (Quality Education), Goal 5 (Gender Equality), and Goal 14 (Life Under Water) were the next most familiar goals. 

Implications: 

Awareness of the SDGs was obviously high (around 80% know about and are familiar with them) given the name of the survey. However, as mentioned in my previous blog post, the awareness level amongst the general public is still rather low. It is therefore one of the aims of this event to help raise awareness and to show less-experienced educators how to incorporate the SDGs into their teaching by sharing ideas for discussion questions, projects, and activities.

Goal 13 Climate Action was unsurprisingly the clear winner in terms of educators’ familiarity. Especially given the recent COP26 summit (see my blog post for the top 5 resources to teach this topic) that rang alarm bells yet again. Whilst the climate crisis is indeed the most pressing global issue of our time, it is also equally important to teach students how all the other Global Goals can have an impact on or be impacted by climate change.

Ananya – inspirational voice of a student

After our ice-breaker, we were thrilled to have a special guest speaker to help open our session. Ananya Chopra (@WonderAnanya), is a 14-year-old student based in Ontario, Canada. She is the co-founder of SDGs For Children (@SDGsForChildren). A non-profit initiative to give a platform to children across the globe to CONNECT, CREATE and COLLABORATE in order to achieve the 17 SDGs. Ananya is also the published author of two books that you must check out and share with your students (see below). 

Know Your Rights or Have No Rights (Amazon Link)

Save Our Planet (Amazon Link)

She shared with us why she thinks the SDGs are so important and how her teachers introduced her to take action towards the SDGs.

Learning Design Sprint – Top 3 Ideas

This was the main activity of the event, where our attendees were split into five breakout groups. Each group was comprised of 3-5 members. First, we watched Makematic’s SDG17 explainer video, then discussed how we would incorporate this topic into our lessons. Here are the top 5 ideas that came up:

  1. Teachers and students must first familiarize themselves with all 16 other goals in order to make sense of goal 17 (Building Partnerships). That way, when teachers introduce a specific problem related to one of the goals, students can look at examples of how partnerships facilitated in overcoming those problems.
  2. Use real-life examples as case studies to showcase the power of partnerships. Students can first choose a goal that they feel most passionate about, identifying a problem in the world and research partnership projects between countries and organizations. 
  3. Micro-Macro. When trying to look at partnerships as a concept, students first apply to themselves and their situation, then begin looking outwards. Next, students can look at existing partnerships between the different classes in the school, followed by school-wide initiatives that have engaged in partnerships with the local community or other schools. Developing this scale of understanding is crucial to making a global impact with their actions.

Challenges

Knowing and understanding all 17 goals is a big challenge, not just for students but also for teachers. A great idea is to have a clear wall display on the classroom wall and frequently refer to them regardless of the subject. Making this link between everything they learn and how it leads to achieving the SDGs will give student agency and purpose in their learning. Another idea is to not introduce the numbers each SDG represents. Ask students to order the 17 goals by importance in their perspective and see what they come up with. This can spark off stimulating discussions and some might even suggest other goals that have not been included in the SDGs.

Of course, all teachers face the challenge of meeting the rigorous demands of their curriculum. Developing links between your scheme of work and your weekly schedule can cause headaches. That said, you can alleviate this pressure by collaborating with other teachers who are also passionate about the SDGs and making them central to your students’ learning environment. Students themselves can make the identification of the SDGs each lesson is linked to.

4 Additional Resources to Check out:

The Goals Project

Classrooms across the world will join up and work on a 6-week long collaboration project to take action on the Global Goals.

TeacherNerdz

Joe and Ron discuss education, educational tools, and moving teaching from the 1900’s model into the 21st century. They believe students need to be given the opportunity to explore things they are passionate about and give ALL students the chance to be Makers.

BitesizeSDGs

A Twitter movement to provoke thinking & fuel action around #SDGs & #ExplorerMindset. Educator, Tim Black, shares inspirational projects from teachers worldwide who are passionate about teaching the SDGs.

Global Citizenship Education Scotland

This initiative was created by educator, Nuzhat Uthmani, to support teachers in embedding global citizenship & antiracist education into daily education. 


Recording

To watch the recording of the TeachMeet session, please sign up or sign in to our Makematic Community.

Inside you will find other resources related to teaching the SDGs. We are a community of fellow educators who want to share ideas and insights to enhance our teaching using videos.

Sign up here

Wakelet page

You can access all the ideas and thoughts shared during the TeachMeet on this Wakelet page.

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter!

Egon Wong
Education Specialist
@ Makematic