(Photo Credit: Dave Gingrich)
In the near future, climate realities will affect the livelihoods, health, and happiness of our nation’s students.
I am an apprentice at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and I study Climate and Society at Columbia University. I am also a 2012 Greater New Orleans alum, and miss the joy of being with students every day. Through both my research and experience in the classroom, I’ve come to believe that our teachers must prepare students to adapt to the impending climate changes, and more importantly, to step forward as leaders in this world.
With this in mind, I have drafted 5 concrete and no-fail ways you can bring climate activism into your classroom and prepare your students for our changing society.
1. Take small steps to create a more sustainable classroom.
There are many low-hanging fruits you and your students can go after to easily reduce your classroom’s carbon footprint. For example, preference technology over printing, allow students to wear jackets instead of using unnecessary amounts of heating, use natural light or ask administration to switch to LED light bulbs. These are all simple ways to create a lower-carbon classroom environment.
2. Get kids involved.
Teaching students about ecofriendly systems will help them contribute in a more sustainable way to the small steps your class is taking together. Many people don’t know the difference between items that can be recycled and items that must be trashed. This is just one example of a simple barrier that could confront your students’ ability to participate in climate solutions. Combat this by having students create a sign to show the differences between various types of recyclables or come up with a slogan that helps them remember.
3. Explicitly teach the “why” of energy conservation methods.
Make sure to back up all of your classes’ hard work by informing your students about the facts associated with worldwide climate change. NASA’s climate literacy pamphlet breaks down the issue of climate change in understandable terms. Other resources can supplement this information source (Bell Museum has a cool and informative animation), so students really understand the carbon cycle and how humans have altered it.
4. Incorporate environmental themes into classroom units.
There are many authors who deal explicitly with topics that help us realize why it is important to maintain the integrity and beauty of natural systems. Some powerful examples of works centered on these themes include Wendell Berry’s poem, “The Peace of Wild Things” and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma: Young Readers Edition. Additionally, you can introduce students to environmental leaders such as Van Jones and Lisa P. Jackson through literature.
5. Celebrate students’ use of sustainable practices at school and at home.
Have students make monthly goals to become better at eco-friendly practices, and invite them to work on these at home as well. Find ways to celebrate their carbon-saving lifestyles in and out of the classroom.
To read more about climate change and the future of our world, click here.