International School of Tianjin, China

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by Chris Watson, 2011, while serving as MYP Science and DP Biology Teacher, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Coordinator at International School of Tianjin, China

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While there are many tools we can use to help us think sustainably, Compass is one of the easiest to use. We have implemented compass in a multitude of ways across our administration, curriculum, student groups, and community events. All students, staff and some parents know about Compass and how to use it on a basic level.

Committees at our school have standardized forms that detail committee definition, history and operation. Now all major event committees have a compass included in their forms to encourage Sustainable Thinking in all planning and decision making.

We have integrated the compass tool into our curriculum at every grade level (K through 12). During the academic year of 2011-2012 almost all grade level teachers were presented with how to implement compass in at least one unit per grade level. It was hoped that we could use the compass directly to promote Sustainable Thinking around content within the units. In the MYP, we have asked our Community and Service (C & S) groups to use the compass tool to devise their action plans. For the past two academic years this has been very successful, and we anticipate students (and their advisors) will continue using compass in their planning.

We currently have two Sustainable Thinking student groups called Eco-Revolution (one each in elementary and secondary) that aim to monitor sustainability efforts across the school. Students gather and publish data, propose new ideas, and liaise with community members on and off campus to encourage Sustainable Thinking. Eco-Revolution will use the compass to look for gaps in services and actions throughout the school year (for example, do we need to revisit Nature because not enough recycling is being done, do we need different fundraisers because there are too many bake sales in Economy, etc.). Eco-Revolution will also ensure that all service groups in both schools are contributing in some way to our annual Community Farmers Market (held in the last week of school).

Our first annual Community Farmers Market in 2012 was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our efforts toward sustainable actions and thinking, not only during the event itself, but also throughout the planning and coordination process. Initial planning happened within a faculty committee with input from Eco-Revolution in the secondary school. During Earth Day 2012 the entire student body from grades 9 through 12 was involved in planning efforts. The event planning group used compass to decide whether we had enough representation from Nature, Economy, Society, and Well-being, as well as connections between those areas. By the end of Earth Day, we had great enthusiasm built up, event planners and advertisers, builders of stalls, and had solicited thirteen C & S groups to contribute something to the market as well. While it is extremely difficult to find organic foods in our part of China, we did have open-range/drug free hotdogs and hamburgers, whole grain breads from a local bakery, local vegetable sellers and one truly organic vegetable seller. We had flash mobs, open-mics, awareness stalls, games and more! It was one of our most successful events of the year.

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