Professional Development

Spreading Sustainability and Systems Thinking to the World

Do you desire to teach students to be deep thinkers with a broader perspective?  Do you wonder how and when you can fit in the big picture of global issues into your day-to-day curriculum?  Do you feel inspired to encourage your students to take action, but need some tools to make that realistic in your classroom?

We know you are already shouldering huge responsibilities and don’t need “another thing” to have to cover or teach.  We also know that education is better when it connects to what students are seeing, hearing and experiencing in the world.  Compass Education’s professional development programs are designed to build capacity among educators to integrate sustainability education into existing practice with tools that are as simple to learn as they are to teach.   We will help you do what you do, and make it better!

Professional Development

Compass Eduction’s fun and engaging sessions are intended for teachers, sustainability or environmental coordinators, service learning coordinators, curriculum coordinators and those in similar roles.  All of our on-site workshops are also available in a virtual or on-line format

Program Certification enables educators to continue to develop in the Compass global network. 

If you are interested in asynchronous, on-line learning opportunities, please visit our courses page.

Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable World: A Systems Thinking Approach -- Level 1 Certification

This course offers educators and program leaders an easy-to-use yet transformative approach to integrate sustainability education and systems thinking into their teaching practice. Participants come away with a renewed sense of purpose and the tools and practice to immediately use what they’ve learned in the classroom.  Whether you’re running a school or facilitating a conversation in the classroom, this course is for you!   

  • Format: On-site 2 day (12 hours).    Online option available
  • Certification: YES – Level 1 “practitioner”
  • Audience:  All disciplines and all grade levels

To request more info about this course or to confirm availability please contact us

Systems Change for a Sustainable World: Becoming a Change Maker in your School Community -- Level 2 Certification

In this course participants explore the challenges and means of integrating sustainability values, principles and practice into education – specifically existing curriculum and school culture. Special emphasis is placed on the use of systems thinking to enhance teaching and student learning. Systems thinking tools and methods will be demonstrated and participants will have the opportunity to explore their practical application within their own subject disciplines and as agents of change for school transformation.

  • Format: On-site 2 day (12 hours).  Online option waiting list
  • Certification: YES – Level 2 “educator”
  • Audience:  All disciplines and grade levels. Participants must have successfully completed the Level 1 course and have some experience implementing the tools. 

To request more info about this course or to confirm availability please contact us

"All education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded we teach students that they are a part of or apart from the natural world"
David Orr

Introduction to Systems Thinking for Sustainability

The program has been developed to enable 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.  The final session supports and encourages participants  to put their learning into immediate practice in the design of a lesson or project plan.  

  • Format: On-site (1 day) or Virtual Delivery.  6 hours –  flexible delivery in 1-3 session formats.  
  • Certification: No – Certification supplement optional (see below)
  • Audience:  All disciplines and all grade levels

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. This powerful tool can help learners think critically and deeply about the topics they study and our global community.


Using the Iceberg to Deepen our Understandings

Using the Iceberg model, we can 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.

Certification Supplement

The above program is an excellent introduction to the Compass Tools but does not provide participants with all of the tools or knowledge that they would need for a Level 1 “practitioner” certification.  Interested participants may choose to take our asynchronous supplement course (6 hours professional development online) to complete the requirements to apply for certification. 

Action Planning and Curriculum Design

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

Become A Compass School

Becoming a Compass School means that you are ready to include sustainability into all areas of your school in a meaningful way. You committed to learning and teaching the skills of systems thinking and sustainability to your campus community.

At Compass, our purpose is to spread the tools and we want to be your partner in teaching and training.
Services Compass Education sustainability education

Questions? We’d love to hear from you.


Yes!  We have a virtual option using some of our most useful tools that can host up to 70 people at one time and we are happy to run on-site workshops for larger groups. 

Between 20 and 30 is the optimum number for our onsite workshops, but we have hosted much larger groups with the appropriate facilities and support. 

Yes!  Systems thinking is what administrators must do every day and the Compass Tools  create a visible way to organize and connect their thoughts and work! 

Yes. All of our trainings include a planning meeting with the school to determine how to customize the learning for the participants.  It is very important to us that educators walk away from the training feeling empowered to use the tools in their context and we work hard to align our presentation with the specific needs of each school. 

Educators from all over the world!   Compass Education has more than 25 facilitators working in more than 42 countries.  Our online trainings are available in even the most remote areas and it is so fun to see who joins us! 

We currently offer discounts for groups and cohorts.  We also have very accessible pricing for educators in government or public schools. When we have facilitators in the area, we offer free trainings for community organizations that work with children in marginalized regions of the world. 

Compass Education is grateful to our generous non-profit donors and  sponsors who contribute to our operations costs, allowing us to keep prices low and provide scholarships and free trainings for educational organizations who would be served by the tools but do not have the resources  to pay for training.

Browse through this website and you will find many ways to become involved.  Send us a note about your specific interests and we will get back to you quickly. 

We’re making a difference 166 SCHOOLS

Compass Education is on a mission to share our tools with 1 million educators by 2030. Join our community of dedicated educators and follow our growth on social media!

Sustainability Education Professional Development Workshop at International School Manila (ISM), 2013

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by Compass Team

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On August 31 through September 1, 2013,  Robert Steele, one of our most experienced Compass Education trainers, with the superb assistance of Tom McLean, Sustainability Coordinator for International School Manila (ISM), facilitated a 2-day Sustainability Education Professional Development (PD) workshop for twenty-six teachers from all three schools (Elementary, Middle and High Schools) of ISM. The main objectives for this PD training were to introduce to the teachers some effective tools, methods, games and approaches for linking and incorporating sustainability into all levels of ISM’s curriculum in order to support ISM student development and empowerment to be change leaders.

The 2-day program was broken into four blocks focusing on 1) sustainability concepts and principals; 2) tools and approaches for sustainability teaching and learning, with most emphasis placed on using the Compass; 3) games and tools for systems thinking and sustainability planning including a fast-paced full ISIS Pyramid completed in two hours (with some systems games thrown in); and 4) time for participating teachers to think about how they can best support ISM’s own whole school sustainability journey.

According to participants’ feedback, highlights of the training program were the Common Dilemma Fishing Game, the System Iceberg for deeper analysis, the Compass, the Triangles systems game and the VISIS Pyramid.Teachers demonstrated their excitement over using the Compass model approach/ framework and VISIS tools in many contexts.Ideas included

  • Wellbeing committee to evaluate proposed change
  • ICare Homeroom
  • Freshman High School/ Berdesaco and service committee
  • Analyzing pictures in IB classes
  • Broaden students’ knowledge of what sustainability actually is
  • Enhance further thinking and making connections with terminology and big concepts, such as in units on professions or globalization
  • Evaluate art works; compare and contrast work in terms of history, culture, artistic movements and other aspects; this is a great visible thinking tool to help students connect their art work to the wider world
  • Curriculum framework in “Changing Our World”
  • Lens for analysing problems
  • Lens for analysing and assessing service learning projects such as CWW and Sat Service
  • Viewing units through the Compass can help to better frame tasks and make them more accessible for students
  • Reflection in the middle school CWW program
  • Plan a unit on environment for French 4
  • Apply some of the games in French classes
  • Use the video for a unit on poverty


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