Not Lost in Commitee: Successful Committee Work on School Greening

CommitteeBy Nick McDaniels — In my tenure as I teacher, I’ll admit that I have served on a number of committees, most of which, as you can imagine, produced very little while consuming a lot of time.

I have had a few other opportunities that have been uniquely empowering and enlightening where committee members, after being given a clear purpose, produced solid work. Recently, I was able to collaborate with a few teachers and students on a comprehensive school greening plan for my school.

We met first to brainstorm ideas that would make our school cleaner and greener, decided on a mission for our greening efforts, and then set to work forming a comprehensive plan with lists of duties, timelines, and detailed action plans that, if followed, will make us one of the greenest schools in Baltimore City in terms of practice.

We decided that our mission would be to promote school-wide environmental literacy and sustainability through continued adoption of best environmental practices in teaching and building management. With this in mind, we set fourth four primary goals in our plan.

1) Integrate environmental literacy and greening resources into the educational process,
2) Transform the school grounds into an environmental educational resource,
3) Reduce waste and overuse of resources on a school-wide scale,
4) Achieve certification as a Maryland Green School.

With these overarching goals, we brainstormed a variety of objectives to meet each goal, and strategies to meet each objective.

We approached our work systematically, unlike most other committees I have been a part of, and produced, in a timely fashion, a comprehensive plan to help actualize our mission. I’m willing to concede that much of this may be unimpressive or boring to those reading this, but let me tell you what is so profound about this whole experience for me, not that the creation of the school greening plan is not a great thing for our school.

What is most important about this for me, is that I learned that if committees are charged with a specific task, with specific directions, fast and efficient production can come from them. I’ve seen many goals be put to committee (improving attendance, increasing test scores, etc…), but rarely any projects (create a comprehensive plan for improving attendance, create a program/initiative to improve test scores, etc…). If we want to be sure that lofty goals are not lost in committee, then we need to give committees something to act upon, not simply something to ruminate on. Fortunately for me, the goal of school greening at my school did not get lost in committee.

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