The Impact of Climate Education: A Teacher’s Perspective
By Matthew Seal
My name is Matthew Seal, and I am a science teacher (STEM) in South MS. Prior to becoming a teacher in public schools, I was a climate change researcher, working most infamously at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on a project aimed to better understand the effect of invasive species with climate change implications. I have been working with TCI for three years, using their learning lab modules, attending educator retreats and contributing to panels and cohorts. I am writing this blog post in hopes that you might find it insightful, useful and motivating to teach climate change in your classes.
First, I know that almost every state in the union has standards for teaching climate change in science classes. I also know how hard it can be to find resources for almost anything in our classrooms, much less trying to find the resources to teach a controversial subject like climate change. To add to that, there is an unfamiliarity when it comes to the causes and effects of climate change, and teachers often aren’t sure about what is fact, what is fiction, what is science and what is politics. So, I am writing to confess to you the usefulness of the learning lab modules, especially when combined with the training you receive at the educator retreats.
” I tell teachers, all the time, it can be a serious time drain trying to find the resources to teach climate change.”
The learning lab modules are a complete curriculum from video primer and bell ringer, all the way up Bloom’s taxonomy to apply and create. Really! They are self-explanatory lessons, in order from introduction to enrichment, with clickable hyperlinks to supportive videos and worksheets, all with explanations and ways for the students to find the “why” for that module. I tell teachers, all the time, it can be a serious time drain trying to find the resources to teach climate change. We usually end up piecemealing a curriculum together to teach it, from random resources on the internet, or heaven forbid, we spend our own money on TPT (teachers pay teachers) for the resources. That time has passed, however, because the learning lab modules have everything in one interactive document that you will need to make teaching climate change in your classroom a piece of cake. The best part, it is free to you, the teacher, and if you agree to use the modules and provide feedback, there is a stipend in it for you too! You literally cannot lose when using the learning lab modules.
For the educator retreats, this is where you will go to learn how to use the learning lab modules, and the plethora of other resources TCI has available to you. Last year, me and my wife went to the educator retreat in Miami Florida. She is a teacher as well and a co teacher in my classes sometimes. The venue for the retreat was a gorgeous piece of property bordering the Biscayne Bay National Park. It was a 3 day professional development workshop where teachers from all over the Southeast US came together to find ways to incorporate the learning lab modules into their classrooms. There was plenty of time for networking and sharing ideas, but also time to reflect. One of the activities we did during the workshop was to go kayaking out to a mangrove forested island. There were manatees and even sharks on the adventure. We also did an activity called ephemeral art, where we created climate change art using only abiotic factors we found lying on the ground (sticks, leaves, rocks etc). I actually used this as an opportunity to announce our wedding date, with the date in the center of our artwork!
“Teachers do not get paid enough, we all know that, and so does TCI. They have made it their mission to make the learning lab modules available to all teachers.”
In the workshop, teachers learn how to access the modules, how to unpack them and use them specifically in each teacher’s classroom. We use Google Classroom at my school, so we learned how to incorporate them using that platform. Food is always provided, and the food is always top notch. There were tables full of snacks and fresh fruits every day. The staff at TCI are top notch, so you can expect to meet some very helpful and eager to help TCI staff. One of the best parts of the educator workshops is the financial assistance they can sometimes provide. Teachers do not get paid enough, we all know that, and so does TCI. They have made it their mission to make the learning lab modules available to all teachers. As a way of achieving that mission, TCI can even help pay for you to attend an educator workshop, which includes but is not limited to airfare, hotel, food and taxis!
So, to summarize: TCI has created several top-notch learning lab modules, which are complete curricula available to you at no cost. They even offer to pay you to use the learning lab modules in your classroom. That’s a win-win! But, it keeps getting better. They even offer training workshops, which they can help pay for you to attend, where you can learn, for free, to use the learning lab modules in your classroom. The educator retreats are always very useful and located in beautiful venues around the country. Finally, you can build your network of eager climate change warrior teachers, who have the same mission as you, educate! I cannot say enough about all of the programs that TCI offers, but I hope I have said enough to get you using them in your own classrooms! Lastly, and certainly not least, TCI “Gives me Hope.” I hope for better resources. I hope for support in implementing those resources. I hope for financial assistance in making teaching climate change possible. I have hope now that I have TCI, because they have provided me with all of those things. I thank TCI for everything they do and I am really looking forward to seeing the difference we all make using their resources!