There is no ‘one right way’ to approach the Principal of a school in India to conduct an awareness session on environment and conservation. It varies depending on the kind of program and your personality type. But, here are seven pointers to keep in mind. These are the ones that worked for me, after having conducted 200+ voluntary outreach programs in schools since 2010.
Find a Sweet Spot
Finding a time-slot during school hours is tough, because they have a packed schedule every day, all throughout the year. But, many schools would have one flexible slot every week, be it a free hour for extra curricular activities or an open hour. Some may go the extra mile to allocate an hour when approached a few weeks before you plan to conduct your program.
"Do your ground work to find that one flexible hour
during school before you approach them."
Align with the school’s mission
Most schools will have a vision, mission and goals. Aligning your program with them would increase your chances of conducting a session in their school. For example, if the school has ‘caring society’ in their mission statement, you could highlight how your program is connected with it.
"Do a quick search to read the school’s vision, mission and goals."
The best enabler is you, especially if you go with a plan to the school you studied. This will add strength to your approach when you stand in front of students as an alumnus/alumna. Many a times, there will be someone in your circle of friends or family who would be willing to connect you with a school.
"Find one person in your circle of friends and family
who can connect you with a school."
Start with ‘Why’
Stating the ‘why’ of your program is very pertinent when you approach a school. Recently, while participating in a volunteering event to restore a patch of rainforest in Singapore, the first point that the organiser, Joseph Koh, said was, “This is not a regular tree planting drive. By spending half a day of your time, you are helping to restore a patch of rainforest that was once here.
"Reflect upon ‘why’ you are inclined to conduct a session for students,
and convey it to the Principal when you meet."
It maybe because you want to share an inspiring conservation success story, or a few environment-friendly practices, or a combination of both.
Credibility of your session
Credibility of your session is extremely important because it is of paramount importance to convey factually correct information that is conveyed in an authentic manner. These are two main points a school will see in you.
"Brief the school about the credible resources on nature you will use."
For example, it could be a film made by an acclaimed filmmaker or an educational kit that is widely used by people.
State your requirement clear
When you state your logistical requirement clearly, it will be easier for the school to arrange them. For example,
"Request a classroom with a projector, speaker, mic and a laptop/computer."
Once you have approached the Principal of a school and spoken to him/her,
"Follow up with an email with details of your session."
Last but not the least, do not approach the school Principal on Mondays or Fridays, or during exam time. We must reach out to them with empathy because your one-hour nature education session is organised amidst a packed school routine.
Suggestions and better ways to approach a school are welcome.