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EcoSchool Challenges


EcoSchool Challenges
Mind Map by seritalawson, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by seritalawson over 6 years ago

Resource summary

EcoSchool Challenges
  1. Lack of Support
    1. Administaration
      1. "Getting the support of the school administration. There are staff who doesn’t regard initiatives important unless they are promoted by admin. and without school-wide support, the initiatives won’t survive."
        1. "EcoSchools can usually go as far as the administration allows, having the custodian and principal on the same page as you can sometimes be a challenge."
          1. "It's not seen as an essential component of classroom curriculum. So the entire responsibility is often left o just one or two teachers..."
            1. "We did find this changed, however, when we planned a parent-community eco-engagement night in partnership with our parent council. My EcoSchools co-chair and I attended all of the School Council meetings to discuss plans for the event. The event had a great turnout and our administration has since offered additional funding support."
            2. Teaching Staff
              1. "Getting the whole staff on board to make an effort to participate in eco-projects whole-heartedly, rather than activities feeling like a chore or a burden."
                1. "I was doing a full year LTO at a school this year and no teachers in the school wanted the responsibility or extra work of leading the Eco-Schools program."
                  1. "One thing we have been trying, and hope to experiment more with next year, is giving teachers/their classes small discrete jobs to do. For example, this year, the Grade 5/6 class was responsible for emptying recycling bins, and one of the Kindergarten teachers organized our school yard cleanup".
                  2. Caretaking Staff
                    1. "Our school has trouble with caretaker buy in, especially around recycling and now around green bins".
                      1. "The lack of continuity with a head caretaker has made it quite challenging."
                        1. "We started inviting the head caretaker to our monthly eco committee meetings and asked for his input around implementing the green bin program and other eco-related activities. This helped us better understand what the caretakers can/would and couldn't do. "
                      2. EcoSchool Programming
                        1. "The audit is an isolated, low-key event that requires a lot of work on the part of the organizing teachers, but does not really engage the whole school community."
                          1. "The “moving target” of every year its gets harder to achieve status is discouraging and unsustainable."
                            1. "While we streamline our resources/online porfolio, we will have more time at the audit to discuss the challenges, and initiatives within the school. As well, bronze is attainable. Most schools have already accomplished some of the requirements for bronze designation."
                            2. Changing Attitudes about Waste
                              1. "My issue with consumption is more about the "faded construction paper" I see teacher's throw out or the endless bags of "stuff" in the hall to be chucked on the last day in June."
                                1. "You may be interested to know that the teachers at my school unofficially and at a kind of grass roots level started an "Ask a Friend" option. One teacher discovered that she had over 200 graph paper notebooks, and sent out an email to the staff asking if anyone had pencils, erasers, or markers to trade. I had an extra box of pencils and erasers, so I traded her for 50 of the books."
                                  1. "It's hard to break old habits. Kids still think they can recycle snack wrappers. Teachers still bring disposable coffee cups. People still waste too much food. Change is slow."
                                    1. "30 days to make a habit, 30 days to break a habit - challenge students to develop a new habit each month. Track each day on a chart. Visuals are great for kids and adults alike."
                                    2. Student Commitment/Engagement
                                      1. "So much of what needs to be done to improve the school footprint depends on the students and they and their commitment vary from year to year."
                                        1. "The Green Team often takes a back seat to other, more "glamorous" clubs like sports, robotics and DECA. When there is a conflict between 2 clubs (e.g. both clubs meeting or holding an event at the same time), the other club usually gets priority over the green team. Challenge is to make the Green Team "cooler" and more appealing to students."
                                          1. "As I am in a high school, although we have a group of around 30, very dedicated EcoSquad Club students who try to raise student awareness, it can be hard to impact the behaviour of such a large population of students."
                                            1. "Rebranding - We were initially called the “Green T club” (with a picture of a cup of tea). Who knew that wasn’t cool?? This year, at our first meeting, we asked the students what they thought would make people want to join and even asked some of the cool kids who were not part of the team. We ended up with “EPIC: environmental people in charge”. We had the art teacher design a more “edgy” pic, printed sweatshirts and students began asking what is this club about? It was quite successful.
                                            2. Ecological Literacy
                                              1. "If the school considers looking at using documents like Natural Curiosity and Project Wild to support teaching then the Eco-Schools can be more seamless in that it becomes a shared responsibility for every classroom."
                                                1. "Eco Literacy is always a challenge. Most teachers don't 'get it' (and sometimes I'm not sure I get it). We need more training on this. Just what does eco literacy look like?"
                                                  1. "The support for Eco Literacy varies greatly across the Staff. It is the dogged enthusiasm, praise, coddling, prodding, provoking of our Eco leaders that gets teachers on board."
                                                  2. Lack of External/Internal Funding
                                                    1. "Funding is always an issue for us as we are a little school with a corresponding little budget, and we do not receive internal or external funding. I know that many grants are available, and we do apply, but so far no luck."
                                                      1. "We are a small school and it is difficult to always find the funding to continue to develop in ways we would like."
                                                        1. "Consider linking environmental initiatives with other funding opportunities (Mental health, Model Schools etc.). As well, there are many 'freebies' available. (e.g. Sheridan Nurseries - offers seeds for gardens)."
                                                        2. School Yard Greening
                                                          1. "It is hard to have someone maintain the garden that you have built with your students during the summer months."
                                                            1. "Focus on spring and fall plants. If stuff goes to seed over the summer, teach the grade 3s about seed saving. If things die, they die, and become compost for the soil. If community members take a zucchini from the garden over the summer without asking, they get to eat a delicious zucchini. If you build it, parents will probably come. And if there is a childcare at the school that's running over the summer, they may be able to help with watering. Finally, just do it anyway, the benefits throughout the year outweigh the possible problems of the summer."
                                                              1. "Plants would be stolen within days of planting in the school grounds."
                                                              2. Documentation
                                                                1. "I find it can be pretty stressful to complete those pages especially since it is always around the time of reporting and graduation."
                                                                  1. "Time. Some activities and initiatives take time to work on. Meetings and other pathways often take precedence. Release time would be wonderful, but this may be wishful thinking."
                                                                    1. "I found a lot of the Eco-schools materials slightly overly complicated, and felt the process for teachers could be simplified."
                                                                      1. "Get the kids to help with the paperwork as much as possible."
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