Greenin' my classroom.

Think back on your school years.

Which teacher do you remember the most? What about them pops into your mind first? Was it the smell of coffee from their classroom? The way he or she cleared their throat before speaking? Your Spanish teacher not wearing a bra on Friday's because she could dress casually and thought that meant you couldn't see her nipples through her shirt?

Ahem. That last one may be one of my memories from school. Sorry.

It's fair to say that my students might remember me as the recycling, paper-saving, pick-up-trash-on-the-school-grounds-as-a-reward-for-being-good type of teacher. But not the type of teacher that will sort through the trash can to recycle Post-its. Girlfriend has limits.

I'm the real deal, people. Me lovin' the earth and goin' green doesn't stop when I fire up the eco-friendly Chevy Cruze and head to work. It keeps on keepin' on.

Some things my students and I do in my classroom (and around the school) to be eco-friendly include:
  • We recycle just about everything, and we sort it right the first time so we don't have to dig through the nasty trash. I have three small recycle containers in my room, and they are clearly labeled. 
  • To encourage other teachers and faculty to recycle, my homeroom students empty each classroom's recycle bin into the large recycling dumpsters every Wednesday. Granted, we are perpetuating a little bit of teacher laziness, but you can't win 'em all. 
  • Our school is one-to-one, which means each student has their own laptop computer provided by the school. Much of my homework is assigned and handed in electronically. I have a paperless classroom. Hot damn, it feels good to say that!
  • When we do take notes with a pencil students take notes in their notebooks, rather than me making photocopies of everything. Their parents buy them a gagillion notebooks anyway, and if they don't have one our school as tons of barely used notebooks for students to have. 
  • Old texts are sold to Half Price Books or on Craigslist. We use the money to buy new books. 
  • My newspaper and yearbook students use Facebook and Twitter to spread the news about their publications - no more posters in the halls, people!
  • My yearbook and newspaper classes are in the morning, so for celebrations we have a potluck-style breakfast in the classroom while we work. This means students don't have to purchase individually wrapped, uber-processed donuts or pastries for breakfast. And it means their mom's get to bring their little sugar bears breakfast. Seriously. What mom doesn't like to visit their kiddo in school and bring breakfast for their classmates. I haven't met one yet. 
  • Most importantly, my students and I are developing a new culture in our school. It's a culture where it's important to pick up trash from our school grounds not only to make it look nice, but to keep trash from our very rural and very beautiful outdoor spaces. It's a culture where it's OK to politely ask the lunch ladies to serve their lunches on "real" plates with "real" silverware instead of styrofoam. It's a culture where it's cool to be chosen to pick up pop bottles in the stands after games, not just because your club gets the refund money, but because it will make our stands look nice for the next event. 

As I begin to prepare for the upcoming school year, my mind is churning with new ideas to become more eco-friendly. But my ideas usually aren't the good ones - it's my students who come up with some rockin' ways to green my classroom, our school, and our community. 

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