had to got to teach 5th grade science last week when a teacher was out, and the lesson was on ecosystems. More specifically–producers, consumers, scavengers, and decomposers. Each living organism in an ecosystem interacts with each other, and each organism has a specific role. When reading chapter 2 of Katie Martin’s book, Learner-Centered Innovation, I was drawn to make some connections between the organisms in an ecosystem and teachers that I work with.
Producers make their own food and create their own energy. The sun provides what they need to make food and grow. To me, producers in a school are the go-getters. They are the ones seeking out professional development, trying new ideas, failing forward, and getting others excited about innovation. They create their own energy, and give others energy as well. These are my go-to teachers. When I have a new idea, I have my producers that I call on to try it out with their kids.
Consumers rely on producers for food and energy. Consumers in school might be teachers that are relying on others to bring the ideas. It’s not a bad thing, but they then become reliant on the producers to flush out what works with an idea or strategy.
Decomposers and Scavengers
Probably the most important parts of an ecosystem, decomposers and scavengers break down the dead plants and animals. In doing that, they give nutrients back to the producers. In a school setting, as odd as it sounds, I think of administration as the decomposers. Stick with me. Teachers leave the classroom each year (dead plants and animals), and the principal brings in new staff that are hopefully full of energy and ideas (nutrients). The job of bringing in new energy and nutrients is a daunting one, but so incredibly important.
All About Balance
A successful, innovative ecosystem needs all of these components. How can we maintain the balance? Would too many producers be a detriment to the system? Too few or a loss of producers would be disastrous. Is there anything wrong with being a consumer? Should people aim to go from consumer to producer? What is the perfect balance for an innovative ecosystem?
I’m leaving with more questions than answers, and I’d love to hear your thoughts!