Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sustainability Leaders

We had the opportunity for some wonderful sharing and learning at the E3 Sustainability Conference on Friday.  Unfortunately, we are right at the end of the semester and finals are upon us at all our secondary schools so our teacher leaders and most of our student leaders were unable to attend.  We were so fortunate that our high school student president of the Sustainability Ambassadors was able to arrange her schedule to attend!  Cassandra was the only student in attendance in a huge room of adults and we can be so proud of her poise, confidence, and knowledge as she shared about the work happening in our system and specifically some of what is happening at our high school.

In the morning session, Peter Senge, shared key elements to effective collaboration and what it takes to move together in changing a system.  In his presentation he talked about the importance of paying attention to three key elements for effective collaboration:  
  • convening
  • conversation
  • community building.  
It was powerful for me to have the chance to listen to Cassandra as she shared her insights and takeaways from Peter's presentation.  It certainly highlighted that we are truly supporting learning at a deep level in our system for students.  It also caused some dissonance as she shared that some of these concepts would make  a big difference to support the thinking of our student leaders as they engage with their teams back at school.  Our Sustainability Ambassadors are working to effect change on a large scale - difficult change at the level of everyday habitual behavior for adults and students.  Do we turn off the lights when leaving a room? Do we throw something in the garbage, recycle, or compost?   Is a purchasing decision made based on sustainable options? Struggling with mental models like,  "Is being "green" nerdy?"

This challenged me to think about whether we need to revisit our definitions (indicators) of effective collaboration.  How might we better support learning for our student leaders?  We are learning much in the work we are doing with our teacher leaders and administrators in our system.  Are we applying that learning to what we do with students?  In my position in Teaching and Learning I know the answer to that is a little but most of what we are learning is not yet embedded in learning for students.  I have new insights into some of the work we could be doing to position our students to not only be amazing learners, but also to give them a skill set to be even more effective as both a member and possibly a leader in teams that are working to effect change.  

Awesome day and so many opportunities for Tahoma to help illustrate how this is coming alive in our system.  Thanks to our administrators, staff, and student for the amazing work happening in each of our schools and with each of our teams, both at the organization learning level as well as our sustainability curriculum, student leadership and operational practices.

Post by Dawn Wakeley, Teaching and Learning

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