In a world where it is more and more important to look after our natural resources and protect the environment, i can't help but think, as schools we are not doing enough.
I suppose I should start by saying that I'm not really an eco warrior type, or at least I wasn't, but I keep feeling more and more responsibility to do something. Anything.
As a school or at least as teachers I think it is disgraceful the amount of waste we produce. If I print off a worksheet, I'm immedieately printing 30 sheets. They could share 1 between 2, but that's still 15 sheets for 1 class. I teach an average of 4 classes a day so that adds up to a lot of paper over a week, a month, a year! (trust me I'm a math teacher). I try very hard now to use a fewsheets as possible, opting to use the board at the front more often than not. But we're not just talking about worksheets, every student for every class has an exercise book, when that book is full where does it go? Most likely in the bin, hopefully the recycling bin. Most students have around 10 subjects, say they use 2 books a year (minimum) for 5 years, that's 100 books per student, none of which are realky kept. Now I know we can't just not use books, but surely we can do something?
I do consider myself to be someone who is at keast trying to do their bit. Here's my suggestions and ways I've tried to minimise my own footprint:
1. Sharing handouts - I always do 1 between 2
2. Print on both sides of the page - It really annoyed me that on printing this costs the same so many teachers dont bother but, you're still saving trees
3. If a student loses a sheet or leaves it at home, I very rarely give them a new one. Usually i tell them to use someone elses or take a picture of someone elses, which leads oncto point 4.
4. Where possible, i send one sheet round a class and have students take a photo of the homework. This way they also can't say they lost the sheet!
5. I use mini whiteboards a LOT. They are great feed back tools and involve no paper. Unfortunately I go through whiteboard pens like you wouldn't believe.
6. Bookless lessons - Whilst not feasable all the time, are great every so often. I've done team buikding problem solving games, pub quizes and i have a stash of problem solving games I bring out when I want to change it up a bit.
7. Use up as much space as possible in books - I've worked at 2 schools so I don't have a lot of comparissons here but, currently we use half a page at a time and students tend to use up a lot more of the soave. This, as well as ruling pages off and starting underneath can really save paper. As the teacher you have to be picky about this though, so students get into the habbit.
8. Use technology! I love, love, love using ICT, computers, phones, Ipads. If used correctly they can be excellent. Websites like kahoot! Are great plenaries (online voting system) with zero paper. As i said before students take pictures of text books and homework. I also use Pixl maths a lot with year 10, giving them regular self guided revision time in a computer room.
I know I'm not going to change the world, but I feel better knowing I did my part at least. The students also hear me talk about why I do certain things in order to help the planet and I like to think that just maybe one of them will think twice before throwing paper in the bin, just maybe they'll recycle it. As a teacher that is pretty much all I can hope for, and maybe another teacher will read this and tweak how they do things.
"one person can make a difference, and everyone should try" - John F Kennedy