ESL etc.

Global Issues and Activism in English Language Teaching

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Greening an Intensive English Program 2.0

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A couple of years ago, in Hawaii, I worked on making my IEP more environmentally responsible. Now that I’ve been at my new job for a little while, I’m trying to get involved with some similar things here.

First of all, let me say a little about the context. My IEP is housed within a university, so things like paint and cleaning supplies are beyond our control. Similarly, we have no say over building materials or climate control, as our classes and offices are in large multi-department buildings.

Here is a list of what we have done / are doing so far.

  1. Environmentally-Themed Content – One of the first things I did here was to create and teach a global issues class. I reflected on my experience and shared new materials here, and I used a lot of my global issues activities, including the individual action project.
  2. Powering Down Monitors – As technology coordinator, I’m responsible for a computer lab with over 40 machines. For some reason, our lab profile has the monitors go to a screen saver instead of turning off. Figuring out who to talk to about getting that changed has taken a while, but the ball is finally rolling. Hopefully, our monitors will be powering down in the very near future.
  3. Paperless Surveys – We would really like to reduce the amount of paper that we use. Most people here are pretty conscientious, but we still go through a ton. Starting this semester, we’re going to do our mid-term and final course evaluations on Survey Monkey. I’ll bring them from there into FileMaker, making it entirely paperless. In the past, every student filled out a printed survey for each of their five classes, twice a semester.
  4. Electronic Documents – Similarly, we’re trying to make more and more of our student files electronic. Instead of photocopying passports, visas, I20s, etc., we would like to start scanning them. We’re somewhat concerned that our database might soon get so big that it becomes unwieldy, but we’re trying to figure this out.
  5. We also do a lot of sharing of electronic documents via our network drives, and keep most of our course materials as digital files as opposed to hard copies. Several groups of instructors are also using Google sites for various projects, which is a great paperless way to collaborate.

  6. Minimizing Color Printing – I’ve helped a lot of teachers change their default printer settings away from color, so that we don’t waste color toner. Unfortunately, some folks still seem to want to print everything in color, so there is still progress to be made.
  7. Greener Disposable Paper Goods – In the past couple of months, our breakroom napkins and paper plates have become “greener” versions. It would be better to see more reusable plates in the lunchroom, but this is a step in the right direction.
  8. Flexibility for Cyclists – People here are pretty open towards cyclists. There are three of us that bike in regularly (as far as I know) and a couple of other folks have been experimenting with it, which is great! I’m able to keep my work clothes in my office, and have somewhat flexible hours, so it’s pretty convenient.
  9. Eco Mini – Last, but hopefully not least, we’re planning to launch an eco mini-institute next summer. It will be a short (probably 2 or 4 weeks) program that will teach English with an environmental theme and lots of field trips. I’m hoping that we can make it truly environmentally-minded. We’ll see!

That’s it so far. If you have other ideas for making an IEP more environmentally responsible, I’d love to hear them!

Tags: administration · blog · global issues activities · greening an IEP · reflection · the environment

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