Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Central Otago Enviroschools Workshop - June 2010

With the success of the Central Otago Hui under my belt I felt it was time to step up and run the yearly Central workshop too. As usual I was nervous as, I wasn't sure if my programme was going to hit the spot, but thanks to some amazing help I think we got there.

The main subject was action planning. We've been doing things the Enviroschools way in Central for the last 3 years and I thought it was about time to focus a teacher workshop on planning the action. Fresh from the action competence workshops at the national hui the week before I was more inspired than ever.

To try to put things in context I chose the 5% Edible project to act as an example project. If you've been fortunate enough to avoid me prattling on about this submission I've made with some other cool people to our council, you can read all about it here.

After some introductions to new faces and contacts, we got stuck into the work.

We tried something new for the Central crew. Top of the mind. What exactly were you thinking about when you walked in the door, doesn't have to be enviroschools based at all, we're just nosey buggers and want to know what it is that you're all thinking about. And the top three are;

  • Reports! That was the topic of the day for sure
  • A feeling like we've done heaps but are now stuck in a little rut, how do we get out of it?
  • New schools and new staff, how do we manage the transition?

Jinty ran an awesome session on linking the global issue of climate change to local projects / issues. Splitting into 5 groups, each group was assigned one of the enviroschools' theme areas. The task was to brainstorm how climate change becomes apparent locally within our theme area. Below are the results. I've uploaded these pics as massive versions, so click on the image to see it full size so you can have a good read.

As we all know the Action Learning Cycle is central to any Enviroschools action project. I've seen it heaps, loved seeing the new blank version but how much have I actually applied it to real life projects? A little but not enough. This is one of the reasons I chose 5% Edible as an example project. As part of me presenting the idea to council I wanted to have a better idea of how the project could develop, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to do one piece of work to fulfil multiple outcomes, that's all good in my book. After describing the project as briefly as possible I worked through the custom ALC I made for 5%.

I also wanted to reintroduce the 5 guiding principals of Enviroschools. If we are to carry out a sustianable action then we should have elements of each of these within the project. Therefore it seemd like the perfect opportuntiy to pull my planning apart and find how each guiding principal is supported within 5% Edible.

After we had some extremely strong coffee, great bread, muffins and dips it was time to get back into it again. Familiar with the theme areas, guiding principles and the ALC it was time to introduce some scenarios. We have 5, one for each theme area. The task now was to look at the scenario and use the tools we've learnt to put together a plan for an action project that could solve the scenario.

Living Landscapes 
A fruit tree near school is overflowing with fruit. The children have noticed that it is a waste having the fruit lying around. It is on public land. What could you do in term 2 to turn this situation into a community action project?

 Water for Life
It has been reported in the local paper that water usage in your community is extremely high. The council is currently looking at installing water meters using cost as a deterrent to using water. This has been discussed with the students as part of their daily news and they believe that they can help reduce their communities water usage.

 Precious Energy
The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has really brought the issue of oil dependant travel to the students attention. Many of them come to school in their parents cars with a number of the seats empty. They would like to reduce their dependency upon oil based transport but feel it would be so much easier if we could all have a go together, not just for getting to and from school but for all of our short journeys around town.

Ecological Buildings
As part of the new community garden project it has been identified that there is a need for a potting shed. One of your students has been looking at the price of buying one from the local hardware store and believes that they could do a deal with the community gardens to design and build a shed using materials from the local recycling center. The difference in cost will be given to the schools sustainability fund by the community garden.

Zero Waste
After learning about recycling in class your students have identified disposable coffee cups as a problem. They now know that these cups aren’t recyclable as paper or cardboard yet that is where the majority of them end up, causing problems for the local recyclers. They would very much like to tackle this issue and work towards having a disposable coffee cup free town. 

We closed off the afternoons mahi with a session about getting ourselves out of the rut and sharing a few ideas of projects that have been successful in school. 

There was discussion about integrating ES work into more of the other school life. Jenny and Jinty have a document linking the DARE programme and ES for instance. Have you considered learning assemblies where you invite parents along to find out more and want to become involved in action projects.

Glenorchy have had a great success in sending some of their students to community board meetings, what an amazing learning experience that would have been for them.

One great suggestion was to use blogs. I'm 100% into this and also understand the commitment that is needed to keep them going. I think it's worth it and we can start to use the technology we have available to us for free. Perhaps we should cover this more in our next workshop?

As everyone in with enviroschools knows we like to have a process of reflection at the end of everything we're doing, sometimes we have a few in the middle too, just to check we are on track. One of my favourites is the H form. Draw a rugby post on a piece of paper, the cross bar is an overall indicator of how good the event was, above the posts some popcorned ideas about the workshop, to the left the things you don't like and to the right the stuff you loved. Beneath the cross bar all the things you'd like to see happen next time round.

The scoring was extremely favourable with the average being in the 7 -8 out of 10 region, so I reckon we did get the content right. 

Next time we'll keep the introduce yourself session a little shorter and perhaps we can see if we can host the event not in the middle of report writing.

The next workshop should also be accompanied by a tour of the host school. This is making me wonder if you would like another workshop held in mid to late term 4 this year. I doubt I'd be able to get any teacher relief funding for it, but if you were willing to come for free I've a feeling it could be arranged, just please email me and let me know you are keen for it. It would also be useful to know any summer camp dates as early as possible so we can avoid that extra stress.

The activities were very popular, but next time we need more case studies. Do you have time to write one? Would you like some help writing it? Do you want me to write all of it for you? Case studies are really useful not just for us here in Central but also to show the rest of the country and world the fine work we are doing here.

In a nutshell, I think I've covered everything. I'd like to say thank you to everyone who came and made this such a success. Seeing everyone get into the work, network and share their success and failure stories made for an amazing afternoon.

Term 4 next one???? Let me know.......

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