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systems

“If you know what bugs live in a river, you can gauge its health.”

Check on the fish below to check out the good work of folks at Biocitizen and Rapid Biotic Assessments

brook-trout    Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 5.02.28 PM

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What factors lead to a healthy, sustainable culture where students, teachers, parents, staff, and administration can flourish and learn?

In this video Antioch University New England alumnus Alex Shevrin talks about how “when we open ourselves up to true, intentional relationships with our students, we make space for them to grow. Through intentional choices, we can empower ourselves and our students to achieve more than any of us thought was possible.”

Shevrin presented “”Unconditional Positive Regard” at MTA ED Talks: Big Ideas About Education on August 4, 2014, in Williamstown, Mass. She is a teacher/leader at a small, independent, therapeutic, alternative high school in Vermont. Shevrin blogs at shevtech.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter, @shevtech.

Bob Gliner’s film, Schools That Change Communities, is about schools as they should be. In this pedagogical age of “time on task,” “direct instruction” and a short-sighted emphasis on “Drill, Baby, Drill,” Bob shows that school improvement can be healthy, engaging and lead to significant community involvement and improvement.Most often when I watch educational videos, I get choked up with anger about the wrong-headedness of the No Child Left Behind educational philosophy. Watching this film, I got choked up because Bob shows schools that manage a combination of academic rigor, community purpose and heart that is right on the money.
Check out the Schools That Change Communities trailer below.
David Sobel

Rethinking Schools and the Zinn Education Project are partnering with an exciting project: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. You can get involved by participating in the K-12 teachers  This Changes Everything Writing Retreat. Here’s a sample from their website announcement:

thischangeseverything_collageImagining solutions to the climate crisis involves imagining solutions to a host of other social problems, from economic inequality to public health to job creation to indigenous rights—even to the quality of the food we eat. As the This Changes Everything team writes: “Climate change is more than an issue, it’s a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture’s most cherished ideas about our place in the world—from the quest for endless economic growth to the assumption of Western supremacy to the limitless capacity of humans to dominate nature—are no longer viable.” Rethinking Schools editorializes: “Confronting the climate emergency … demands that young people exercise their utopian imaginations to consider alternatives of all kinds.”

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 12.38.35 PMThe US Green Building Council (USGBC), the folks who inspire beautifully sustainable buildings with their LEED certification program, have done it again!

This time with the help of Antioch’s David Sobel, Sue Gentile, and Paul Bocko they’ve entered into the Educating for Sustainability movement in a big way.

USGBC Center for Green Schools brought together stakeholders from academic, corporate, and nonprofit sectors to envision a future where schools support thriving, healthy, and regenerative communities. Then they created a timeline that gets us there by 2040.

It’s all in the National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability. Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 12.22.00 PMGet the Executive Summary and read the full text at centerforgreenschools.org/nationalactionplan.

USGBC already demonstrated its ability to have an impact on the entire building construction industry, and all the related fields connected to and nested within it, such as architecture, energy, waste, and transportation.

The National Action Plan for EfS takes a similarly ecological approach examining the curriculum, assessment, teacher preparation, professional development, and leadership necessary to drive change in the complex system of American education.

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 1.07.11 PMWe are not alone. Australia published its first National Action Plan for Educating for Sustainability in 2000 and updated it in 2009 setting out a framework for local, regional and national action. Australia’s plan envisions reorienting educational systems, fostering sustainability in business, and harnessing the burgeoning community spirit to collaborate for sustainability.

This is all very encouraging, as the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) draws to close, organizations like the USGBC Center for Green Schools are taking the baton.

 

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 3.45.57 PM Laura White fosters a sustainable learning environment in her Stoddard, New Hampshire classroom by connecting with families and students before school starts.

Laura recognizes that meeting students’ developmental needs requires a systems way of thinking and connecting. By visiting families in their homes prior to school starting she honors how students are nested in multiple communities of home, classroom, school, and town.

Read the whole story in this feature article from the Keene Sentinel newspaper:

Stoddard teacher meets her students on their own turf

 

How wonderful that we have such an articulate example of educating for sustainability from Antioch EFS alumna Mona Dalmia! Check out Mona’s classroom at the Green School, Bali, in the video below.

Mona’s classroom illustrates several aspects of organizing a classroom in ways that honor principles of sustainability.

  • The curriculum takes advantage of the community the school is nested in.
  • Her animal unit interconnects across content areas.
  • She honors student development through multiple assessments
  • And Mona fosters a flow of critical dialogue in the classroom that inspires and challenges her students.

Nestedness, interconnectedness, development, and flow, these are elements of sustainable natural systems. Mona’s attentiveness to these principles is an acknowledgement that a classroom is a natural living system, an ecology. An ecological system where the interactions the students, the teacher, and the whole learning environment come together to form a dynamic, sustainable learning environment in the classroom.

Check out Mona’s EFS blog here Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 3.33.58 PM

 

 

And many thanks to Make Change TV for producing this video.

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