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Green Schools as Learning Laboratories? Teachers’ Perceptions of Their First Year in a New Green Middle School

By Steve Kerlin, Rosie Santos and William Bennett

Many K-12 school districts are embracing energy conservation efforts and constructing environmentally sustainable buildings with the purpose of lower operating costs of their facilities. Investments in green infrastructure to improve operating efficiencies and occupant health are important but the impact on green buildings on instructional practice should also be considered. This study focused on teachers’ perceptions of the many impacts of a new sustainably designed middle school on students and teachers and explores the use of the school as a learning laboratory. Grades 6-8 teachers participated in open-ended focus group discussions near the end of the first school year in their new green building. An emergent coding framework was created to characterize conversation topics. Analysis of the coding yielded insights into seven major categories of teachers’ perceptions of the impact of the new green school on their work in the building and their students’ attitudes and academic performance. The seven major coding categories of green infrastructure, student behavior, student awareness, teacher awareness, curriculum, health, and professional development were further analyzed to formulate considerations and recommendations for others to capitalize on the instructional potential of sustainably designed school facilities as learning laboratories.

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The role of project based learning in promoting environmental stewardship: A case study of Bahrain Teachers College.

By John Wilkinson

Undergraduate education majors were enrolled in a project based learning methods course in spring 2012. As a culmination, they prepared five year plans to promote environmental stewardship in primary public schools in Bahrain. Since all students plan to eventually teach science in the primary schools, it is hoped they will be able to implement at least some of their plan and foster environmentally friendly habits that last for the lifetime of their students.

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School leaders, sustainability, and green school practices: An elicitation study using the Theory of Planned Behavior

By Dennis Veronese and Lisa Kensler

Little research in educational leadership has addressed school leaders, sustainability, and green school practices. State policies requiring green building and management practices are rapidly becoming more common. However, we know little about school leaders’ attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control beliefs relative to green school practices. This study begins a line of research investigating the behavioral intentions of school leaders to engage in green school practices. We report on an elicitation study including a diverse sample of 71 U.S. K-12 school leaders’ responses to open-ended survey questions designed following Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior. In general, the study suggests that participating school leaders believe there are benefits to going green and most stakeholders will support greening efforts. However, limited resources (money, time, information, and personnel) present substantial barriers to leading and managing greener schools.

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