Supporting climate leadership in Alberta Schools

 

#climateleader        #learnabout

The Alberta Climate Leadership Youth Network (ACLYN) is a student group from a variety of Alberta high schools that are taking the next steps toward climate leadership in their schools and school divisions. The Alberta Council for Environmental Education (ACEE) and the Centre for Global Education (CGE) are supporting the students.

ACLYN has three initiatives and they are calling all Alberta students to engage in 'taking the next steps toward climate leadership'...​

1.  ACLYN is also asking all students to join their "I want to learn about...." campaign to share what you want to learn to be climate leaders.  Let's create a large student voice. 

  • Add your voice by creating your own “I want to learn…” image and posting it using -  #climateleader #learnabout
  • Click on the image below to watch the video to be inspired by these climate leaders.

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2. "Taking the Next Steps towards Climate Leadership in Alberta schools – Dialogue Guide to initiate student-led conversations within schools and school divisions". The Dialogue Guide helps students engage in conservations with school leadership and school division administrators to work together to be climate leaders.

  • Take the first step - Download the Dialogue Guide and engage in conversations with school leadership and school division administrators!
  • Watch the video ACLYN created to help you see how you can engage in conversations.

3. In 2016, over 3000 students worked with ACEE and CGE and outlined recommendations in “Supporting Climate Leadership in Alberta Schools: Recommendations by students for Alberta's educations leaders” which they presented to Education Minister David Eggen and Environment & Parks Minister Shannon Phillips.

In the past year, students have presented at...

  • Alberta Ecotrust's Environmental Gathering
  • Alberta Education's curriculum expert working groups
  • Alberta's Energy Efficiency Panel
  • the Pembina Institute's Climate Summit

... for more information, please open the links below!

Check out their story on Green Energy Futures.

Want to hear from these students?  We're continuing this work with students from across Alberta in 2016/17, through their Alberta Climate Leadership Youth Network - which includes a Speakers Bureau!  To request a presentation you can contact students via Kathy[at]abcee.org.

This report captures the good ideas and passionate voice of over 3000 students.  It is a blueprint and a manifesto for change that boldly reframes how K-12 education should evolve.  This is a good day for anyone who believes in a sustainable future for Alberta.

- Brad Clute, Chair, ACEE

 

Students' Recommendations for Climate Leadership in Alberta schools

"Supporting Climate Leadership in Alberta Schools: Recommendations by students for Alberta's Educational Leaders"
Download the PDF.

Below is a summary of the recommendations found in the report:

Curriculum

  • A framework of Climate, Environmental and Energy Literacy should be integrated through ALL classes, from Kindergarten to Grade 12.
  • Curriculum should encourage hands-on opportunities that give students practical experience as they make a difference.
  • Teachers should be allowed enough time, support, and flexibility in their teaching so that students can learn about environment, energy and climate change in our everyday lives.

 

Student Learning

  • Engage students to develop and implement plans to decrease the carbon footprint created by their lifestyle and their school.
  • Get students outside more often to work with the environment or to have outdoor classes or classrooms.
  • Encourage cooperation with community partners and industry to celebrate, finance and provide unique learning opportunities.
  • Create Student Advisory Committees that would give feedback on local and provincial levels.

 

School Infrastructure

  • Engage students in reducing the consumption of energy and the materials of their schools.
  • Help us learn to produce our own energy and food in school.
  • Create a fund that schools could apply to for relevant Climate Leadership projects.

 

Teacher Professional Learning

  • Ensure that future educators know how to incorporate environmental, energy and climate topics into their teaching.
  • Ensure that teachers already in the classroom have the skills they need to incorporate environmental, energy and climate topics into their teaching.

Students' ask of Minister Phillips and Minister Eggen - June 7, 2016

Summary of what the students asked of Minister Phillips and Minister Eggen on June 7, 2016.

 No FUNDING IS REQUIRED for the following:

  • Convene the groups that make up the educational leadership of this province so they can also hear our recommendations, articulate what they need, and consider how they can help. These groups include school board trustees, superintendents, teachers’ union, learning consortia, energy and environmental education agencies, industry, etc.
  • Scan existing government policies for opportunities to support Climate Leadership in schools: examples include:
    • the Teacher Qualification Standards currently under review
    • the annual contract with Alberta Regional Consortia to support teacher professional learning
    • funding allocated for use by Alberta’s school boards, and
    • relevant content as staff develop the new K-12 Programs of Study.

 

Funding is required for the following (Budget for year one: $280,000)

  • Engage high school students in a provincial conversation as they advise school boards and provincial government, and share exciting developments and best practices in climate leadership in their schools using virtual town hall technology
  • Inventory and advertise the education programs available – and fill any gaps
  • Support cross-Ministry planning and action
  • Work with education partners to increase relevant teacher professional learning
  • Host conferences in Edmonton and Calgary
  • Provide planning and capacity-building opportunities for teams within selected school divisions to create a comprehensive Climate Leadership plan for their school
  • Help Schools implement energy efficiency/renewable energy solutions. Schools are awarded funding contingent on an approved Climate Leadership Plan for their school that shows how they will leverage teacher professional learning, student outcomes, and energy retrofits
  • Evaluate the success of this program
  • We propose prototyping with selected school boards in the upcoming school year (2016-7); evaluation and review, leading to provincial implementation the following year

ACEE's proposal to support the student recommendations

ACEE is ready to lead this work with education stakeholders to deliver on the student recommendations - download the proposal. The work will include the following:

1. Continue to work with Alberta Education, educational leadership, and key education stakeholders to ensure that

  • new curriculum includes environmental, energy and climate change education across all grades and subjects
  • students' recommendations are implemented

2. Work with the provincial government to provide funding for schools to implement energy efficiency/renewable energy solutions that are linked to and support student learning and engagement

3. Create a provincial youth network to engage high school students in a provincial conversation as they advise and share best practices with government, school boards, other education stakeholders and media

4. Enhance ACEE's searchable database to ensure quality environmental, energy and climate change programs are easily accessible for Alberta teachers - and use this database to identify gaps and work with stakeholders to ensure the gaps are filled

5. Provide capacity-building opportunities (Climate Leadership Clinics) for school divisions to help them develop and implement their own Climate Leadership Plan for their school division

6. Dramatically increase teacher professional learning on environmental, energy and climate change education, working with existing teacher professional learning programs (Alberta Regional Consortia, Alberta Teachers' Association - specialist councils, and conventions)

7. Host two conferences in Calgary (6-7 Oct 2016) and Edmonton (6 Feb 2017) to connect teachers and agencies, celebrate best practices and reinforce the benefits of this important work

8. Evaluate the success of this work (measure new opportunities in curriculum, increased teacher capacity, increased students' environmental, energy and climate change literacy, and reductions in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions)

Students and ACEE present to Educational Leaders

In this province, most power and decision-making lies in the hands of over sixty school authorities – so it is essential that school boards and their superintendents hear students’ recommendation on ‘How Alberta schools can show climate leadership.’ 

                                                 

From left to right: Teacher Mr. Dulku, Students: Helen Wang, Reagan McKinney, Stephanie Zawaduk, Leah Buchanan, ACEE Gareth Thomson

Alberta Education invited Alberta’s educational leadership to hear from students and ACEE, and on Wednesday 22 June we were pleased to share our thoughts with these groups in the Alberta Legislature building.

                                          

ALL these students are committed to following through on this work next year - Adam Robb’s Calgary students are even meeting over the summer!  Students understand the importance of continuing to share their recommendations with interested audiences, and ACEE is pleased to help coordinate this. 

Please contact Gareth [at] abcee.org if you’d like to organize a presentation by students.

Watch the short video of their concluding remarks and their hopes of how Alberta's educational leaders can support their recommendations.

Work that has already started

  • June 22, 2016 - Minister Eggen invites Alberta's education leaders to hear students' recommendations
  • June 15, 2016 - Minister Eggen announces plans for curriculum development and to include topics such as climate change...
  • June 7, 2016 - students presented their recommendations to Minister of Education, David Eggen and Minister of Environment & Parks, Shannon Phillips. Alberta government media release.
  • ACEE worked with an Education Task Force to create the Curriculum for a Sustainable Future that will help Alberta Education integrate environmental, energy and climate change education across all grades and subjects.
  • ACEE's upcoming conferences to support professional learning in environment, energy and climate change education - October 6 & 7, 2016 - Calgary, AB; February 6, 2017 - Edmonton
  • October 2015 Summit to advance environmental and energy education.
  • March 16, 2016
    • Premier Rachel Notley responded to questions from the students across Alberta.
    • Education stakeholders discussed how they could support Climate Leadership in Alberta schools and outlined what they could do. See commitments.

Green Energy Futures' story about the students work

Check out Green Energy Future's story about the students' work and their presentations to Minister Phillips and Minister Eggen. Just click on the image and it will take you straight to the story.

Students' quotes on the need for climate literacy

"We want to integrate talking about climate change into everything....it's not always going to be in science class." - Stephanie Zawaduk, Queen Elizabeth High School, Edmonton

Question to the Premier - "What do you think of using the Calgary Board of Education as a pilot project to increase solar usage in Alberta, as well as build kids' awareness about energy efficiency and renewable energy? Who do I talk to in your government about getting this low-cost energy and education idea off the ground?" - Colin Charlton, Career and Technology Centre, Calgary

"Schools should prepare us for the future not the past. The future of the world will be built on sustainability. If we learn what sustainable technologies are available when we are in school we will be able to help shape the future of global sustainability when we graduate." - Quinn McKinney, Jasper Place High School, Edmonton

"Collaboration between students, government, school boards and other education leaders is vital to ensure that our recommendations are carried out.  We call upon the Minister of Education to convene these groups and provide good leadership and good facilitation so that we can all move forward together." - From students' report, pg. 12.

Media coverage related to this work

Exploring the links between energy efficiency, schools and K-12 education in Alberta - September 16

ACEE worked with the Alberta government to convene a session on September 16th, 2016 for students, teachers, non-profit organizations, trustees and other education stakeholders. It was an opportunity to share expertise and ideas with Alberta's Energy Efficiency Panel on how to weave together energy efficiency and education in Alberta.

Minister Eggen welcomed everyone. Our favourite line, "Students and educators are on the front lines of action on climate change...."

The session included presentations and group discussions. The panel will use what they heard from educators as they make recommendations to the Minister of Environment and Parks regarding the new Energy Efficiency Alberta agency that will begin its work in early 2017.

Here is a short list of what we heard....

  • when students work on energy conservation, renewables, and efficiency, they build valuable skills - and hope for the future

  • the education community of school, teachers, agencies and community is essential to create a culture of climate leadership and energy efficiency - but we need support 

  • teachers deserve professional learning that helps them connect students to relevant topics

  • school boards deserve incentives that help them simultaneously increase energy efficiency - and student learning and action 

  • this topic calls for Alberta Education and Alberta Environment and Parks to work together: for example, new curriculum needs to help students develop environmental, energy, and climate literacy providing flexibility so teachers can engage students in deeper and hands-on learning

Meeting Summary:

Notes from presenters:

 

Our students asked - and Alberta Education responded with a great announcement!

We are feeling PROUD of our students - and excited that our work with them is making a difference!  Students' work on “How Alberta Schools should show Climate Leadership”  figured prominently in yesterday's exciting announcement by two Provincial Ministers that new schools will all have solar panels.

Students got a direct shout-out by Minister Eggen: 'We have heard directly from students from across Alberta and their message is clear – they want us to be leaders on climate change."  Here's an important quote from the news release (link above): "Putting solar panels on schools was a recommendation made by students to the Alberta government as a way to demonstrate leadership on tackling climate change.”

Nice coverage by CBC, too!

13 January 2017 - Alberta Climate Leadership Youth Network presentation to Expert Working Groups

On January 13, 2017 - Quinn McKinney represented the Alberta Climate Leadership Youth Network (ACLYN) students' in a presentation to Alberta Education's Curriculum Expert Working Groups. She received many accolades and from what we heard, she wowed the Expert Working Groups.  This was one of Quinn's first times speaking in front of a large group. It was at the Myer Horowitz Theatre at the University of Alberta. Quinn stood in front of this crowd all on her own, made them laugh and we heard that she was inspiring. Congratulations to Quinn and ACLYN for all of your hard work.

Download the presentation.