Introduction to the Compass Tools: Systems Thinking for Sustainability in the Classroom

Course Overview

Are you looking to build a culture of sustainability in your school? Do you want to integrate systems thinking into your community through accessible and adaptable tools?

This flexible, three-part program enables schools to efficiently and effectively introduce educators, administrators and support staff to the fundamentals of sustainability and systems thinking. The process is designed to scaffold learners in systems processes through the introduction of two of the most important and useful systems thinking tools; the Sustainability Compass and Systems Iceberg.

This program is available for onsite (one-day) or virtual (six hours) with flexible delivery in one to three sessions formats. For further inquiries about this program and pricing, contact our team.

Session 1: Introduction to Systems Thinking with the Sustainability Compass

This session highlights a tool called the Sustainability Compass which engages us in systems thinking- a way of looking at the world that emphasizes interconnectivity and interdependence. We will demonstrate ways that this powerful tool can integrate into your teaching and learning plans to help learners think critically and deeply about the topics they study and our global community.

Sustainability Compass image with copyright

Session 2: Using the Iceberg to Deepen Our Understandings

This session dives deep into using the Systems Iceberg Model, a systems thinking tool designed to evaluate a problem or event by examining the root causes, underlying structures and mental models that can trigger it. As we deepen our understanding, we can develop new perspectives and more effective and sustainable solutions.


Session 3: Action Planning and Curriculum Design

We will study examples of curriculum design in a broad range of topics, age groups and subjects. Participants will be able to work independently or in small groups to design an action plan or curriculum plan to engage their students in systems thinking.

Action Planning

Learning Outcomes

Who should participate?

School leaders, sustainability program coordinators and service learning coordinators who are eager to bring sustainability and systems thinking into their classrooms, communities, and culture.

What will you take away from this workshop?

• A shared language for whole faculty or school conversations about sustainability and systems and framework for reflecting on issues systemically.
• Powerful conversations making sense of complex issues.
• Lesson ideas that educators can use in their classrooms the next day, next week or as soon as they’re ready!
• Useful tools that can integrate sustainability and systems into any curriculum and every class level.
• Access to our database of educator sourced lesson plans.
• Connection to a global movement of educators for sustainability education.

Time Expectations

This program is available for onsite (one-day) or virtual (six hours) with flexible delivery in one to three sessions formats.


Interested participants may choose to supplement this 1-Day training with a our asynchronous course 'More Systems Thinking in the Classroom: A Supplement to the One Day Workshop'. This course involves approximately six hours of professional development online, a 30-minute meeting with a Compass Facilitator and completion of a lesson plan using the Compass Tools.


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Questions? We’d love to hear from you.


Yes!  Compass Education offers several opportunities for larger numbers of participants in both virtual and in person formats.  Please get in touch. 

The course is designed to run asynchronously but participants are encouraged to keep up a pace of one module per week.  Two to three additional live meetings are scheduled (optional) for interested participants who would like to dive deeper or speak directly with their facilitator. 

You can expect to feel comfortable using several new systems tools and integrating them in your classroom lessons.   There are quite a few other outcomes depending on how you show up for the course and what most captures your interest. 

Yes, we offer the same course as a two day onsite workshop.  See the professional development pages of our website. 

To become certified by Compass Education as a practitioner, you must complete all modules in the course and submit a lesson plan that uses at least one of the tools.  Your lesson plan will be evaluated by our facilitators who will authorize your certification. 

Yes, in most schools this course would qualify.  Every school is different so please check with your school and reach out to our admin team if you have any questions. 

During the course you are encouraged to reach out to your facilitators with questions or with requests for individual support at any time.  We have several options to continue to learn and get support after the course is completed.