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Getting to know....Connor Launder

A blog post by Connor Launder

Connor Launder
Education and Learning Officer

Posted 12/08/2020

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The 12 August 2020 is the designated UN International Youth Day so it is fitting that we speak to Connor Launder, one of our Education and Learning Officers about his journey from intern to lead for our Young Reporters for the Environment programme.

I’m Connor and I’m currently an Education and Learning Officer at Keep Scotland Beautiful, and this is just a bit about me, how I went from an Environmental Science Student, to an intern, to delivering educational courses to hundreds of pupils during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s been an interesting 10 months, that’s for sure.

I started working with the charity in August 2019 as intern. I was straight out of university and looking for my first 'proper' job doing something a little more meaningful than serving pints or delivering food on my bike. I found the role through Adopt-an-Intern, a fabulous service in Scotland that hooks graduates up with organisations looking to develop young people and offer interesting positions. After being passed up for a communications intern role, I had a stab at the ‘Learning for Sustainability Intern’ which was a ridiculous title, but apparently not ridiculous enough to deter me. I can only assume that my current manager took pity on me, applying for two internships at the charity in short succession, and decided to hire me.

My main responsibilities revolve around an international initiative, the Young Reporters for the Environment programme, for which I am responsible in Scotland. Young Reporters is an outlet for young people to express themselves and their opinions on environmental issues that matter to them. I help them to achieve this by managing, developing and delivering the initiative in the best ways that I can.

 

Like most things over the past few months, what with that pandemic happening and much of our societal life changing dramatically over a short period of time, Young Reporters has had to adapt quickly too.

Somehow, with limited teaching experience but great support from the wider education team, I managed to create a five week-long online course based on the Young Reporters programme. The aim was that those who completed the course would submit an entry to the Young Reporters Scotland competition. Over 70 children and young people actively participated and worked towards building their reporting skills as well as understanding some of the more nuanced impacts of climate change.

Along the way, we taught writing techniques such as PEE (Point, Evidence, Explain), how to create an informative photograph caption, how to use photography to tell a story, and how to get the most out of a smartphone camera. Most of the children were in primary school, so for them to successfully grasp high-school techniques was really quite amazing and a credit to their own determination and investment in the course.

This was all new to me too, not only was I teaching 50 children in live online lessons, I was creating lesson plans, pre-recording video lessons for those who couldn’t be there for the live sessions, developing homework activities and even marking them.

I’m thrilled with what I, and the rest of the Education and Learning Team managed to achieve during Term 4. I’m proud of how we all adapted but mostly I’ve just been seriously impressed by the children who turned up for these extra lessons and courses outside of their 'normal' school work. It’s not easy to go from a normal school situation to suddenly joining an online group call with complete strangers in an effort to learn something delivered by an educator that you don’t know and who doesn’t know you. Add in the unfamiliarity of software you’ve got limited use of and a lack of physical connection to friends, peers, and teachers and you’ve got a really difficult learning environment. It’s been hard for children all over the country and I can’t commend them enough for sticking with my teaching and delivering work week after week. Truly astounding.

Looking forward, I’m eagerly working through the 50+ entries for Young Reporters Scotland this year (a number that has more than doubled previous years) and I’m beginning to submit the best ones to the International Young Reporters for the Environment Competition, delivered by the Foundation for Environmental Education.

It is a genuine joy to read about how young people view their environment and, in many ways, gives me hope for Scotland’s climate in the future. Times are changing, and I believe that the Young Reporters programme demonstrates that attitudes are changing too.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you’re interested in learning more about what I do and check out our Young Reporters pages to see some of the fantastic work that young people from across Scotland have submitted.

 

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