Establishing a school business with the School Enterprise Challenge can be hugely beneficial for the students involved. Particularly, it’s a great opportunity to develop essential skills for the 21st century such as communication, teamwork, leadership and problem solving.
However, it is easy to forget that participating teachers also benefit greatly! When Wendy Aguilar Reyes, a teacher from CONALEP Ing. Manuel Moreno Torres San Luis Potosi in Mexico, joined the School Enterprise Challenge little did she know that it would result in such a wonderful shared learning experience with her students.
Participating for the first time
This time around, Wendy has kindly shared a little about her experience supporting her students in their first year participating in the programme and establishing “Kualli”, a multi-product school business including the manufacturing and sales of: delicious confectionaries, printed T-shirts, personalised mugs and souvenirs for special events.
Initially, Wendy’s expectations of the programme mainly focused in the students’ achievements and the impact that practical teaching could have in their commitment and decision making skills. “Having a solely theoretical lesson is not the same as having to put this theory into practice and having to deliver quality products to actual clients. The students are confronted with the real world and the teaching leaps beyond their notebooks: the income is real and it flows through our operations, the clients are real and they have opinions, demands and complaints. This learning is substantial,” she highlighted.
And what results! “I have loved seeing how my students organize themselves and give ideas for our projects; how they have established their own lines of command and responsibility. One of our first activities was to engage in market research, interviewing potential clients and understanding what they need. Seeing the students speaking with confidence and empathy is really fulfilling as a teacher. By the end of this programme, I would like to see them with even stronger skills for communication, emotional intelligence and assertiveness, among others.”
The benefit is for everyone
Furthermore, it’s not just the students who have benefited. Wendy continues to explain: “The benefit, I believe, is for the whole of the school community, and not only for the students actively participating in the project. If we take me as an example, participating in the School Enterprise Challenge has benefitted me by helping me acquire new teaching techniques and strategies that I use regularly now. It certainly takes effort, but it is also very enriching!”
Wendy is a magnificent example of endless commitment, always putting in her best effort, going beyond expectations and moving away from traditional teachings, all for her students!
“My students are very demanding! To be able to help them adequately with their school business I have had to learn techniques to manufacture products I never thought I’d learn. I have taken a workshop for soap making and done research around confectionary and the use of chocolate. With our first income we purchased a design kit and are now working in learning how to use a badge-making machine! Overall, I could summarize this experience in three words: stimulating, challenging and motivating!”
Wendy and her students have certainly impressed us with their excellent attitude and willingness to learn. We are confident that they will successfully complete the following steps of the programme and, further down the line, will use the lessons learnt in this process in their professional lives. As for Wendy, we have no doubt that it is her dedication and perseverance that has got her to become a wonderful teacher, but it’s also clear that the School Enterprise Challenge has given her the tools with which she can better support her students’ learning.
The School Enterprise Challenge is an educational programme that teaches business and life skills. It is open to all schools (including primary schools, secondary schools and technical/vocational colleges) in all countries. To find out more and sign up for free click here: www.schoolenterprisechallenge.org