Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Eco-Schools Green Flag Accreditation

Last week HS students were given the chance to sign up for clubs and organizations. There was lots of commotion and, in the end, it seemed anecdotally that all groups were "ready go to". One such group is the ISKL Green Council, which started up the year with its first meeting just this past Wednesday, getting to work right away. It's first big agenda item?  Ensuring that the evidence is collected and compiled for the Eco-Schools Green Flag Award, that the award application is completed and submitted.  

Two years ago ISKL was the first school in Malaysia to receive the prestigious international award, the Green Flag. It's an award that lasts for two years before a school goes through it's re-assessment process. But unlike other accreditation programs, this one is conducted by our student leaders entirely. Though it's difficult to know if we will be granted the prestigious award for a second time, the Green Council is primed to ensure that all our Education for Sustainable Development and service learning opportunities are well-documented, with obvious connections to our curriculum. 

What comes next is a rather stressful visit by the accreditation committee, often university professors and/or community leaders. To prepare our Green Council presenters train and practice and practice some more. Presentations and video are put together. Tours are planned. Practice question and answer sessions are put simulated. Then, finally, the visiting delegation arrives for a tour and presentation - ISKL's Green Council - inviting the Eco-Schools program to consider us for a subsequent Green Flag Award.

It's a stressful task, to be sure. But it's authentic and builds skills for students that are "real world". Public speaking, organizing, communication, creativity, critical thinking, all combined to make for a true authentic learning experience. It's what ISKL is all about!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Starting off with New Programs!

Hello to one and all from the Sustainability & Service Learning Office. By now, hopefully, a semblance of routine has found its way to your home. The new year brings a great many new initiatives/events on the sustainability and service learning front and, as is not customary, this article will do it's part to communicate what our students and community are up to in this regard. 

The second day back for our teachers was taken, in part, by training in service learning modalities and concepts. Cathy Berger Kaye spent four days with us providing training to all our faculty and a select group of student service leaders. It was a great initiation to what we hope will be an action-packed year of sustainability and service learning. 

The year also brings with it a new Middle School program in which we hope to engage our students in independent community involvement through the use of the service learning process. The program, nameless until our students find an appropriate name, will focus on documenting and highlighting things our MS students are doing outside the realm of their classrooms but that are none-the-less learning experiences in their community. 

At High School we are welcoming a new course: Global Issues, Local Solutions. The course is intended as a venue for students to pursue action-based learning to address sustainability issues. The course, coupled with the re-introduction of a Global Issues Network club should pave the way to a greater opportunity to address authentic learning. 

We are also taking our first baby steps to creating a Global Issues Network (GIN) program in the MS too. Though in the past we've participated in such events at other schools we are planning to host our first Global Issues conference (on a small scale) in February, largely based on our Global Issues classes. 

On a sustainability front we have created an Operational Sustainability Committee this year which will include all sorts of stakeholders, from our finance department to our facilities to cleaning staff, cafeteria vendors and transport office.  The idea, of course, is to bring everyone "to the table" so to speak, and identify ways that efficiency can be increased while ensuring operational sustainability.  

Our elementary school too won't be left behind. Typically service learning is alive and well at Melawati, but this year there are higher expectations of service learning in all grade levels. 3KD, in particular, will be using "water" as a consistent theme and participating quite extensively in the Eco-Schools programs, of which ISKL is a Green Flag school. 

Wow. That's a lot of new things starting up. Add them to an already extensive list of happenings, and you've got yourself a busy place. More to come as the year continues!