MethodsStep 1 – Establishment of Eco-Schools Committee
Members interested in the committee can be recruited in school bodies, during schooling period or via posters and invitation letters. Another possibility is that pupils interested apply for cooperation in the Eco-Schools committee and are selected by team. Following methods are suitable for motivating the committee, for achieving common objectives and wishful thinking and for getting the first insight what single participants can do and want to do for the plan: “Wishful thinking / Way to the future” as well as “When-then poster”. Tasks and roles in the group should be specified clearly and unambiguously (furthermore, work with elements from We-workshop like for example “Partner interview”, “Looking for jewelleries” or “Each hand shall be used” is suitable here). Tasks can refer to for example managing the committee, keeping of the minutes, informing the school community, public relations or keeping of contacts to out-of-school partners. It should be stipulated who is responsible for which area. Agreeing clear communication ways and communication rules is beneficial for a good cooperation (see “Reminder” method). Furthermore, a successful and continuous work shall be supported by regular working meeting.
If a school does not have any good ideas how to launch the process of initiation and establishment of an Eco-Schools committee or Eco-Schools initiative a visit of a good-practice school offers very good stimuli. Another possibility is to invite experts from a good-practice school to own school. Pictures and presentations of good practices help to get some ideas and stimuli for own implementation. Continuous exchange facilitates the work as a wheel needn´t to be reinvented again and again and schools can benefit from each other in this way.
Step 2 – Environmental review
Questionnaire or check list designed for environmental review either may be processed with pupils or standardized templates may be used. If the Eco-Schools committee draws up the questionnaire itself following methods may be used for selection of areas that are to be assessed: “Brainstorming / Brainwriting” or “Interview forays”. Subsequently, the committee should discuss what specific aspect should be assessed in the review. Common agreement on the areas that are to be processed preferentially may be achieved for example by the means of “Point-decision” method. Based on result a questionnaire or a check list shall be drawn up then. Hints for that may be found in the check list in the selection of methods. A model questionnaire may be used as a base of work as well. Furthermore, model action areas in the school offer a focus on areas to be assessed. Environmental review may be done by the means of check lists on the basis of “inspection / observation or survey”.
Step 3 – Action plan
For elaboration of action plan it is recommended to observe certain basic principles and structures and to answer the question: “Who makes what till when?” A model action plan offers a good orientation for elaboration of a “Who-makes-what-till-when-plan?”.
For filling the action plan with contents it is recommended to write results of environmental review on cards, to score priorities (see “Point-decision” method) and to process areas considered to be the most important.
Then groups for single areas shall be established and Brainstorming or Brainwriting to the question “What must be done in order to improve the situation related to single areas?” shall be done (see also method “Work in small groups”). Then groups shall collect ideas together and determine how success shall be measured, what realistic deadlines must be met and who shall be responsible and for what area or activities. As big part of school community should participate as possible. Finally, teams responsible for single areas shall be created and they should organize themselves independently. For proposing an action strategy or first steps for project implementation within a short time we may use “Our way” as well as “Design meeting” method.
Elaboration of action plan may be methodogically based on three phases of Future workshop. Current state shall be outlined in the critique phase. Subsequently, picture of situation that we want to achieve in the future, shall be proposed within fantasy phase. Then in implementation phase concrete steps that make visions come true shall be processed (for example: Who makes what till when?). Furthermore, We-workshop method offers participatively focused hints for common successful implementation of projects built on pupils´ individual competences and needs.
Furthermore, “Wishful thinking / Way to the future” method and “My opinion” method are suitable extraordinarily for involvement of all pupils or whole school community when it is about collection of common visions and wishes for school designing and subsequent integration of the visions and wishes into the action plan. Based on “When-then poster” method it may be found out before drawing up the action plan what participants can do and want to do for the plan.
“Mind mapping” method may be used for formulation of quick and well-structured measures and objectives in an experienced group.
Finally, objectives or plans agreed should be checked in any case by the means of SMART method from the viewpoint whether they are specific, measurable, attractive, realistic and timely-achievable. It should be followed by correction, if necessary.
Step 4 – Monitoring and Evaluation
As early as during implementation of the action plan changes should be made at regular meetings of Eco-Schools meetings if not enough financial and personnel resources are available, deadlines cannot be met or unexpected organizational problems occur (see e.g. “Stumbling blocks” method). Checking of progress after action plan implementation documents to what extent set objectives could have been achieved and it is a base for further work. Furthermore, Eco-Schools committee may examine the action plan together, go through it step by step and to tick the tasks in action plan on the basis of their current state or to provide them with appointments or measures for further work. Thus, it is clear immediately where further support or audit is necessary. Another possibility is to draw up an evaluation form or check list together in the Eco-Schools committee. Model check list shall serve as a template for that. Small groups may process single areas and fill out the check list related to these areas (see e.g. “Interview forays” method and “Inspection and observation or survey” method). At the same time light guard´s and energy guard´s or environmental detectives´ work should be taken into consideration and to ask them for their findings. At the end there should be common discussion in the group and they should answer the question: “Where are we now? Are we on the right way? What ran well? What could have run differently? Where did we make mistakes?
What should have been done in order to achieve objective?”
(see method “Brainstorming”/”Brainwriting”). In order to express acknowledgement and praise for participation in project internally at school it is suitable to organize for example a small internal award celebration. However, pupils may be acknowledged by handing certificates as well. Other possibilities how to highlight significance of projects are a press release about respective project in school-internal or external media, exhibition of results in the school for example on the “Day of Open school”.
Step 5 – Curriculum Work
It is very helpful to formulate common visions in details and the way how education for sustainable development may be included in schooling and school life. School programme should be elaborated at respective bodies involving pupils, too. Participative methods as follows may be used for this: Mind-mapping, Brainstorming / Brainwriting, Work in small groups, Group interview, Future workshop, “My opinion”, “Wishful thinking / Way to the future”, World Café. For taking common, fast and participative decision among ideas suggested it is recommended to use “Point-decision” method. In generally, it should be considered that innovative and participative methods and topics of sustainable development are included in various subjects and respective school internal curriculum is drawn up. Initiatives for the process may be acquired by exchanging with model schools. Implementation of sustainable development in schooling and school life is a long-term process that often starts with practical project work and plans and becomes the content of school programme.
Step 6 – Informing and Involving
Before concluding cooperation with out-of-school partners it is suitable to find out whether there are appropriate partners connected somehow with respective project in your environment or school environment. Pupils may participate in this by investigating (see e.g. “Interview forays” method). A cooperation partner may often be found among parenthood when mother or father work for example at municipal environment agency or cultural office. Thus, for example climate expert from environmental agency may provide pupils with knowledge and experience and environment agency may benefit from collection of environmental data provided by pupils. Furthermore, common public-effective actions or open door day may be implemented with the partner. Ideas for establishment of cooperation with out-of-school partner may be collected by the means of various participative methods like Mind-mapping, Brainstorming / Brainwriting, Future workshop, We-workshop, Work in small groups or Group interview. For example “Point-decision” method is recommended for taking a fast and participative decisions and selecting from ideas collected. Furthermore, it is suitable to formulate rules of communication and cooperation with out-of-school partner (see “Reminder” method and “Cooperation” material) and to conclude a cooperation agreement with him where mutual cooperation is stated in writing. A small group of pupils may be created for support of public awareness that shall be in charge for out-of-school public relations specially and shall write articles to local newspapers or school newspapers and school website. Another possibility refers to information campaigns organized by pupils (inter alia distribution of flyers and circulars, involving the local press and radio, provision of consultations). Furthermore, a small expression of thanks for partner´s support fosters future cooperation.
Step 7 – Eco-code
All pupils may be called up for example in a creative contest to participate in formulation and drawing up of an Eco-code. For this purpose it is necessary to discuss the meaning and form of Eco-code with pupils at lesson in advance. Principally, Eco-code should include several precepts related to sustainable development at school. Such precepts should start with words “We want...” However, it may be proposed and presented by Eco-Schools committee or body involving pupils and followed by discussion with pupils. Ideas for Eco-code elaboration may be collected by the means of participative methods like Mind-mapping, Brainstorming / Brainwriting, Work in small groups, Group interview, Future workshop. Visualised proposals or proposals written on cards shall be attached to wall and categorised according to general headings. Then selection criteria shall be stipulated (e.g. as for relevancy for sustainability at school, pupils´ participation support). Then some proposals shall be selected by the means of “Point-decision” method and discussion shall show whether everyone agrees with them. Subsequently, Eco-code shall be formulated by the means of priority list. At the end pupils should go through the proposals at respective school bodies and they should agree on common Eco-code. The Eco-code should be published in school building in such a way that it is visible for everyone (for example at a notice board or in a showcase) and it should be signed by all pupils or school community.