How to Make Teaching a More Sustainable Profession?

How to Make Teaching a More Sustainable Profession?

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic were sudden and very severe. Global trade markets were disrupted, people had to shift from traditional office work to work at home, and online shopping has taken over traditional shopping. Coronavirus has changed and will continue to change more than just the economic world.

Another primary sector that underwent a historic shock is the education system. With the near-total closures of different educational institutions, the unfavorable effect of the epidemic has through the global educational system years behind schedule and recovery will take years, if not decades. However, one thing is clear: the education system cannot go back to the “old normal.”

Whether you are an elementary teacher, a high school teacher or a special education teacher, you cannot go back to the way your profession used to be. It is evident that the education system, including the teaching profession, needs to change; maybe it’s the time to hope and work for a better future. And, the basis or the center if you like, of this “new normal” for teaching is sustainability.

What Is Sustainable Teaching?

What Is Sustainable Teaching?In the contemporary era we are living in, the word “sustainability” is very common and popular and is often used as a synonym for “environment-friendly” or “go green.” However, since the term “sustainable teaching” is quite new on the market, there are no agreed or official definitions yet.

For eco-conscious people, sustainable teaching refers to the use of teaching methods that can protect the natural resources of the planet. To others, sustainable teaching refers to a way of teaching that will give teachers a voice as well as opportunities for improving their quality of teaching, which will eventually enhance the quality of learning for students.

According to the English Classroom, sustainable teaching can be defined as the following:

“Sustainable Teaching is the practice of giving students the skills they need for life-long learning outside of the classroom. We do this through teaching issues of sustainability as well as soft skills such as critical thinking, research, collaboration, and presentation skills.”

Although the definitions may vary, there is one thing that connects all definitions: the need to improve the teaching profession as well as the education system.

How Schools Can Support Sustainable Teaching?

How Schools Can Support Sustainable Teaching?

Provide Basic Needs

To understand this argument, it is important to first grasp the famous theory of Maslow. The Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational concept that shows how the five classifications of human needs dictate behavior. According to this theory, the lower needs in the hierarchy must be satisfied before an individual can attempt to meet the needs higher up. Similarly, a teacher cannot change institutional systems and think of a new pedagogy unless his/her own basic needs as a teacher are not met.

Whether the teacher wants to connect students with nature or expose them to specific literature and artwork that can inspire positive change in them, it is first critical for the school to provide a safe environment and basic materials for the teacher to use. Once the basic needs of teachers are met, they can climb the ladder to satisfy the “sustainable” need.

Create a Sense of Belonging

The human behavior depends on and changes according to the environment you are in and the people you interact with. A sense of belonging to a place or with someone can help you remain anchored on what you feel and what you want.

Numerous studies have shown that when teachers are connected with each other and work in teams, they are able to accomplish a lot of great things. Sustainable teaching can only succeed when teachers feel like they belong to the school and this can be achieved by organizing frequent staff meetings or setting up a group work culture.


In this challenging profession and new pedagogy, schools have a huge role to play. To learn more about how schools can support sustainable teaching, stay tuned for part 2!








Eco-Friendly Schools From Around the World

Sustainability is like a choice that has to be made and there are many educational institutions around the world that have made the choice of bringing sustainability to schools while also educating the youth.

  1. Group Phi’s Sustainable Military School for Girl

File:Rakovski Military Academy.JPG - Wikimedia Commons

Located in Pune, Maharashtra, India, this military school was constructed by Group Phi. Known as the first military school for girls in India, it was built based on the concept of sustainability. For instance, a grey water recycling system was established to reuse wastewater and polycarbonate sheets were used to cover the yards and protect the passageways from rainfall.

Moreover, they applied the daylighting concept, which refers to the practice of controlled admission of natural sunlight into a building in order to reduce electric lighting and save energy. This practice can be carried out by incorporating many windows, skylights, other openings and reflective surfaces.

Besides, natural materials were employed in the school’s construction to reduce the carbon footprint and make the students feel closer to nature.

  1. Animo Leadership High School

File:Animo Venice.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

“We should have more schools like Amino”

– President Clinton

This public school for 500 students is known as the first Green Dot School and is found in Inglewood, California, a tough and economically depressed city, where it is noted that 25 % of the population lives below the poverty line. However, despite this, the school has been ranked as one of the top 100 high schools in America by the US News and World Report.

The school was designed by Curtis and Davis, New Orleans architects, who wanted to promote passive sustainable strategies. Due to the harsh climate of the area, the designers decided to use natural ventilation rather than air conditioning. For instance, cooling strategies such as cross-ventilation and large roof overhangs were used. In addition, the shape of the building was constructed in a way to shade itself and induce airflow.

The south facade of the building is covered with 650 solar panels that provide at least 75 % of the school’s energy and which reduce costs by over 3 million dollars. There are also large glazed openings, various exterior decks and terraces that connect the interior spaces such as classrooms with the outdoors.

  1. The Docks School

The zero-energy school, found in Saint Ouen in France, was designed by the Paris architects Mikou Design Studio. The school is found in the middle of the Zac des Docks, which is a sustainable urban development area.

The school was built with tiers that slope diagonally across the building to form large triangular terraces. All the classrooms are opened onto internal courtyards and sheltered by canopies laden with photovoltaic panels. Also, these panels are slanted at an angle of 30 degrees to allow maximum sun exposure.

  1. Creative Pavilion

File:Serpentine Pavilion 2017 IV (35868889662).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The Creative Pavilion was constructed as an “out of the box” scheme compared to existing standard structures. The idea behind the building was that it should not be considered only as a learning space but also as a place that could stimulate social values and accommodate a range of activities.

The building was designed and constructed in a way to minimize environmental costs in terms of the building’s carbon foot print and energy usage. Awnings and pergolas were installed to shade the openings. Also, rain water harvesting systems were established.

  1. Hillside Middle School

Highland Middle School - McGranahan

Located in Salt Lake City School District, the Hillside Middle School has established high standards with their green practices for others to follow.

The building structure makes optimum use of natural sunlight to reduce electric lighting and save on energy. Moreover, the use of insulated windows keeps heat away and ensures a cool learning environment for students. And, I have to mention how even the paints used on the building had low levels of volatile organic compounds.

Do you happen to know more sustainable schools? Please share your comments!