Children's ability to learn is greatly affected by the culture of the school.
Student achievement depends as much on the vitality and health of the whole school environment as on the textbooks and curricula, or even individual teachers.
When the entire school adopts a goal to be more sustainable, it models sustainability as a community practice. It shows students that this goal is worth the effort and time, and it demonstrates that a community working together can make a significant difference in the world.
Whole school change is not easy to attain. It requires work and buy-in by a significant fraction of the community. However, whole school change is vital for sustainability efforts to take hold in an enduring way. When those efforts are supported by structures and relationships within the community, they are more likely to last.
Whole school change is most successful when:
- The whole school, rather than just individual teachers, works on sustainability.
- The school recognizes and strengthens the network of relationships linking teachers, students, administrators, and parents.
- The whole school's curriculum is integrated around overarching questions or themes.
- School buildings as well as areas of the school grounds are transformed into education resources, becoming part of the community and part of the curriculum.
- Time and effort are given to building relationships and to allowing for shared planning among teachers.
- Every classroom has a job or task that contributes to the school community.
The Center for Ecoliteracy offers a variety of coaching, consultation, and professional development services to help schools develop initiatives for whole school change.