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Environmental and Sustainability Education

TDSB EcoSchools & OISE Conference 2021

Logo for the 2021 TDSB/OISE conference

Thank you to all who participated in the Climate Courage: Educators Addressing the Climate Crisis conference! We appreciate your support in making it a success.

Educators have bravely risen to the challenges of the pandemic over the last two years; this same courageous response is needed to address the climate crisis. This year’s TDSB/OISE EcoSchools conference focused on encouraging K-12 educators to renew their courage and commitment to engaging their students in learning about climate change and sustainability. We heard from a range of inspiring and diverse voices, and learned innovative approaches and teaching strategies for engaging our schools and communities in climate change education.

Below you will find the workshops, names of the presenters, recordings (if available) and conference resources as shared with us. 

Opening & Keynote

First Nations Welcome:

Richard PetersGiibwanisi, is Annishinabek from Beausoleil First Nation and Dene from Tadoule Lake, Manitoba. He worked with the late Doc Martin at the Blue Fox camp in Northern Ontario and was mentored by Elder Vern Harper during his time on earth. To make meaningful strides and go beyond decolonization Richard also co-founded the on the land, off grid Oshkimaadizig Unity Camp at Council Rock. Richard brings an understanding of the traditional understandings and a spirit of acceptance and humour to students and adults alike.

Keynote Address:

Dr. Sarah Jaquette Ray: "Teaching at the End of the World: A Climate Justice Toolkit for Educators"

What does this historical moment demand of environmental educators? How can we attune our pedagogy to respond to the existential dimensions of planetary crisis and injustice for ourselves and our students? In this talk, Dr. Ray will argue that environmental education in a time of profound climate emergency must be trauma-informed, draw on wisdom traditions for resilience and interconnectedness, and embolden the psycho-social strengths of our diverse students.


Recording for the Opening Plenary talks


Redefining Support For Outdoor Learning In Schools - Sylvia Denton Carryl and David Hawker-Budlovsky (TDSB)

Learn how the TDSB is rethinking the use of outdoor space during instructional time and the ways educators are supporting student learning through the outdoors.  Using an equity lens in identifying barriers and providing intentional supports, it is our goal to support place-based learning so that we can make connections to the world around us and tackle climate change and actions to support social and environmental justice.


Recording: available here

Engaging Students On the Land in Indigenous Education - Mike Izzo (TDSB)

This presentation will explore how teachers can get students out on the land to explore and learn about Indigenous histories and cultures. It will take place virtually at Teiaiagon, the site of a former Haudenosaunee village along the Humber River. The presentation will be an exemplar regarding Indigenous land-based programming and will include many other resources for teachers who are interested in engaging students in this form of experiential learning.

Recording: no recording available


Environmental Racism, Justice and Sustainability in Education: Empowering Student Advocacy - Michael Giffen & Matt Webbe

Environmental racism and justice are important components of social justice education within Ontario schools. This session looks at the need to integrate environmental racism and justice education into the K-12 curriculum, while ensuring aspects of sustainability are in place for change to happen. While there is a need to include environmental justice education in all schools, the focus is upon urban school environments due to the predominant instances of environmental injustice in urban settings.


Recording: available here

From Anxiety to Agency: Transformative Pedagogies to Inspire Climate Action - Maria Vamvalis (OISE)

This workshop invites K-12 educators to thoughtfully and meaningfully consider recent research on rising levels of climate anxiety in young people around the world to develop a "pedagogical action plan" grounded in key principles for nurturing well-being and agency in young people. Integrating critical, holistic and de/uncolonizing approaches to competency-focused education provides a pathway of critical hope for transforming our classrooms into  powerful "places of possibility" (hooks, 1994) to tackle multiple crises points impacting our learners.


Recording: available here



The Value of Inclusion and Accessibility in Environmental & Sustainability Education -  David Anderson (York University)

This workshop will approach inclusion and accessibility for students with disabilities in environmental and sustainability education as an opportunity to: foster group learning and shared skill building through difference as a source of strength and value; encourage the richness of collective, slowed down, and multi-sensorial experiences with nature—in both rural and urban settings; and promote co-responsibility in learning and caring for one another and the environment. This workshop will address the challenges and opportunities of inclusion and accessibility through large and small group discussion as well as by drawing on the lived experiences of participants and case studies.


Recording: available here

Planet, People, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnerships: Teaching through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) -  Pamela Gibson (LSF)

The SDGs are a set of 17 goals that weave together economic, social, and environmental dimensions for a safer, healthier, and more prosperous world by 2030. Their broad scope and holistic vision make them a perfect lens through which to frame all kinds of learning—curriculum expectations, 21st century competencies, equity and inclusion, de-streaming, and more! The SDGs can introduce students to local and global sustainability issues, provide an authentic context for acquiring the knowledge and skills to tackle complex issues, and inspire students to act on their learning and make a difference in their own community. We will inspire you to design your own path to learning with an SDG lens, using nature and the community as learning grounds!


Recording: available here



Mapping Climate, Equity and K-12 Environmental Education Programs - Helen Toledo (EcoRise)

EcoRise is a nonprofit on a mission to mobilize a new generation of leaders to design healthy, just, and thriving communities for all. Currently serving over 2,700 schools across the U.S., EcoRise offers K-12 programs focused on sustainability, climate justice, and green career pathways. This workshop will serve as an introduction to EcoRise and will highlight our new and exciting Gen:Thrive initiative to accelerate sustainability and environmental education programs in K–12 schools with climate resilience data, and GIS mapping. Join us to learn more!


Recording: available here


Nature-Based Mindfulness - Helen Gault and Angela Ventrice (Mindfulness Everyday)

Mindfulness is a state of awareness and a practice; it involves attending to the present moment and cultivating an attitude of curiosity, openness and acceptance of one’s experience. It is a secular (non-religious) practice that is backed by a growing body of compelling scientific evidence that indicates a wide range of potential benefits, from improving physical and mental health to promoting community. Mindfulness can play a vital role in helping students and teachers become aware of the impact that our actions have on our environment and ecosystem. This experiential and practical workshop will use nature-based mindfulness activities and provide resources to support educators in connecting students with nature. The intention is to show how mindfulness can enhance experiences with the natural environment, helping students recognise that we are all interconnected in the fragile web of life. This understanding can support students in making appropriate environmentally sustainable decisions.


Recording: available here

EcoFair Resources